The story of how to buy French salt is a curious one. It goes back to the early days of the Republic when salt was manufactured and shipped all over France. At that time, the salt trade was a thriving industry in which salt was transported all over the country from mining areas all the way to the heart of the countryside. In the process, this salt was used for cooking and in many cases as an alternative to salt. Many recipes that we have today first appeared in France.
It wasn’t until the thirteenth century that salt was brought back from the thirteenth century by the Moors. By then, salt had already been refined and made more available for wider usage. For example, it had been used as an extra to marinate meats in. Because of the availability of salt, it became quite popular with the people of France. So much so that during the fifteenth century, the French began to import salt from the Egyptians and other countries.
Throughout the course of the next couple of centuries, the French government tried to keep control of the salt trade. They banned anyone from buying salt from outside of their country. Even when they couldn’t get their hands on any contraband salt, they set up tax counters near ports all over France to make sure that the people there were paying their share. This went on for several years and when the Napoleonic administration came to power, they declared the contraband salt to be a taxable item. This made salt much more expensive, which prompted the French government to hike up its taxes in the following years.
The increase in taxes didn’t stop the French from stockpiling their petite belle, though. Because of the rising costs of salt, the French government resorted to creating yet another legal method for earning money off of the salt trade. They established a tax on fertilizer and then charged people selling petite belle for each pound of fertilizer that they bought. The law was obviously working perfectly fine, but the authorities didn’t stop there. After the First World War, the Petite Gabelle was re-branded as French fertilizer and the prices went through the roof.
Today, it is considered to be an illegal practice to sell petite belle or any other type of salt at online auction websites. There is an old tradition in the French food industry of purchasing large amounts of small, cheap grain and re-distributing it among family members. This is how the “grain supply” for the Grand Escarpon can be maintained. The problem with this business model is that the small, cheap grain that the family buys may easily end up as petite belle and not be sold at the auction. When this happens, the farmers who received the small grain for free simply put it to waste.
A quick trip to the French countryside will reveal a multitude of places where grain is left behind by farmers who are trying to make ends meet by harvesting the small, unused grains in the past. Many of these “gourds” come from the Grand Escarpon. It is not uncommon to find local farmers selling their “gourds” for less than they would sell them for in the United States. The Internet has given the small farmer an opportunity to sell his surplus grain without going through the traditional channels. He does not have to worry about paying taxes or dealing with suppliers or tax collectors.
In order to understand the roots of the “grain for money” idea in the French economy of the early eighteen hundreds, it may be helpful to think about the “grain for money” customs of the early America and the wheat exports of the early Great Britain. The British were not immediately successful in trading with other countries. However, they were able to build up a network of agents throughout the vast rural regions of the country. These agents would then travel to the ports of call of other countries in Europe and Asia. They would then charge the shipping companies for the right to transport their products.
By allowing the shipping companies to bring their products to market for them, these small agents created a ready market for them. When the prices of the grains were too high for the local people to afford, the merchants stepped in and began to provide what the people of the area needed to feed themselves. This led to the development of a productive moment for the French nation. In essence, the “grain for money” idea was born out of the need of the French people to feed their families during the winter months.