The tax on salt debate takes the humble condiment to the top table - Janet Christie

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” said William Morris, British arts and craft designer, writer and activist in the 19th century.

Unhealthy choices are cheaper, but at what cost to the nation's health?

This sprang to mind as I admired a spherical stoneware salt cellar, hand thrown and glazed by Cara Guthrie at her small workshop near the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh – one of the makers championed by upmarket clothing and homewares company Toast.

Salt is in the headlines thanks to the idea of taxing salt and sugar in a bid to cut obesity and help the straining-at-the-seams NHS

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And if the humble household condiment’s cachet and price is on the rise, maybe we need to start storing it in style.

According to this week’s National Food Strategy’s independent report, the proposed tax would encourage manufacturers to make products containing salt, and its partner in health crime, sugar, more healthy.

Because despite education, cheaper processed food means we’re still eating too much from the Great British beige buffet, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths a year.

NHS statistics for last year reveal two thirds of adults are overweight, with more than half of those obese.

If we ate less salt and sugar, the report argues, GP consultations and hospitalisations would be significantly reduced.

A stoneware salt cellar, hand thrown and glazed by Cara Guthrie at her small workshop near the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh.

With Covid likely to be around for a long time to come, surely anything that helps the NHS is good?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response to the report is he’s not keen on extra taxes on “hard-working people” and no doubt food manufacturers agree.

But we’ve seen the benefits of the levy on sugary soft drinks and for evidence that young people are choosing healthy, look no further than the Love Island merchandise, one of the more affordable items being a logoed water bottle.

It’s true that a tax will hit “hard-working people”, but if our health improves, we will all benefit. The alternative is to spend more on the NHS.

If future it may well be a case of ‘d’you want low salt ‘n’ sauce on your chips? Surely better that than ‘let them eat ketchup?’

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