The average daily needs of an adult are met by six to eight grams of salt a day. Τhis essential quantity of salt is naturally present in the food we eat. But in fact we eat more than we need, over 15 grams a day: salt is added to food in cooking, for its qualities as a condiment –it enhances flavour – and for its value as a preservative, in charcuterie and cured or pickled foods. (…) Until the 14th century, huge quantities of meat, fish and vegetables were salted. Cheese was salted more than it is now, and so was bread, to make it rise and keep better. Salt was also added to wine and beer. Frugal as they were in general, the people of ancient times did add a little salt to their meals. In the early days of Rome its soldiers were given a handful of salt a day. The salt ration was subsequently replaced by a sum of money allowing each man to buy his own. The money received by the Roman soldiers was their salt money, their salarium or salary. A ‘salary’ then became the term for the payment of civilians.
‘A History of Food’