We purchase the salt for our hot-selling Fleur de Sel chocolate from our partner Khoisan Trading from the province of Western Cape in South Africa. We from fairafric got to this wonderful partner through Fair Band, the federal association for fair import and sales. Today we talked to Gerhard Müller, the German representative for Khoisan Trading, about the fact that salt is harvested, what a salt garden is and how the white gold connects people.
Hello Mr. Müller, thanks for taking time for fairafric. We from fairafric follow a 100% transparence position: All of our customers can and should not only be able to know about the ingredients of our chocolate, but also about the external conditions. When taking a look at the website of Khoisan Trading, there appears to be a similar intention: Your customers’ knowledge seems to be important to you. What experiences have you made with this?
Gerhard Müller: "Our product is characterized by two features: The added valued with regard to health as well as the fair and sustainable background. Unfortunately, there haven’t been submitted many questions to our homepage about our products and especially about the fair background.
We are being honest with respect to the production conditions; however, truthful statements on this matter are often not noticed by the average consumer – this rather happens through fair trade, for example at information events or fairs. Only with respect to the health advantage over so-called industrially obtained salt there are more questions. This, however, is going to change soon as there will be a new EU regulation for table salt next year and from 2021 there will also be a new organic regulation for sea salt."
Just like fairafric, your product is an African one and you also engage for an increase in value of sustainable products from the African continent. Has that been this way from the beginning?
Gerhard Müller: "Yes, for the Khoisan salt project it has. I was shaken up by personal strokes of fate that led me to want to do something else with my life – something more meaningful."
Is the name Khoisan a South African word and / or does it have a certain meaning?
Gerhard Müller: "Yes, it consists of the two South African tribes, the Khoi and the San. The first ones were the hunters, the second ones the farmers. Nelson Mandela, the probably most well-known personality of South Africa actually originates from the tribe of the San. Rumor has it that these two tribes are the origin of humankind. This actually goes quite well with the topic of salt!"
Let’s take a look at the product itself now: You radiate true passion for the white gold. Please tell us more about it!
Gerhard Müller: "By spicing with our salt meals get a more natural taste, it underlines the natural taste and doesn’t cover it. It also has a great meaning for health: For example, with nasal irrigations with salty water, gargling or inhalations the respiratory tracts and our lungs, the dust filters of our body, are freed from sedimentation and can absorb more oxygen. I for example have sleep apnea and can now sleep through the night again thanks to regular application of such nasal irrigations – a new sense of life! The areas of application of salt in health are very diverse apart from that, too. Ever tried out a sea salt foot peeling? The heaviness in the feet is gone within the blink of an eye and soon it’ll feel like walking on clouds."
Is it true that there are more than 84 other ingredients in your salt? Why is that not the case with other sea salts?
Gerhard Müller: "The human body’s water contains 84 minerals and is identical with sea water mineral-wise, a fact we try to keep this way by harvesting by hand: The Khoisan sea salt brine (a brine is a watery solution with salts) is pumped from a subterranean sea water lake to the salt fields and finally crystallizes to salt due to the influence of wind and sun. This process guarantees the highest natural purity and natural crystallization. As soon as our salt is dry, it is sieved by hand and not grinded like other salts. This is how the original state of the sea is preserved.
By the way, the brine is the most important part of the salt winning: The brine of conventional sea salts comes from the surface water of the sea and – as is commonly known – has come to be contaminated with microplastics apart from many other contaminations. In order to remove these contaminations and to dry the salt as quickly as possible, the salt won this way is blown through tubes with hot air inside. This way, many valuable ingredients get lost and salt just becomes a mass product."
Your product – just like the chocolate from fairafric – is a fairtrade product. Have you had any problems with this seal in the past? Especially in cocoa and food production there are unfortunately many seals that promise purported help when in reality there is no real difference for the producer…
Gerhard Müller: "At the beginning, we had kind of big issues because only Fair for Life has internationally valid certification criteria for sea salt. We have had this certificate for two years now. And it pays off: The seal enjoys a high amount of trust, especially with the marketing – I was just reinforced on this when I talked to a Weltladen (World Shop) in Sweden today. Without the seal we would make only a small part of the turnover in fair trade, particularly in Europe."
Last, but not least: What stuns you the most about your work with salt?
Gerhard Müller: "Salt connects people! Through my employment at Khoisan Trading I have met many wonderful people – from Weltläden (World Shops), in South Africa or through initiatives. People with real visions, such as Denis Goldberg, the South African civil rights activist. I was even able to accompany him to events; that was so inspiring! And all of this had its origin in salt…"