As more and more news outlets are reporting (e.g. the Wall Street Journal’s China Realtime Report), Chinese have been panic-buying salt for fear about radiation from Japan.
The reason given is an (erroneous) belief that iodinated salt will protect against harmful radiation (radioactive iodine) which may spread from the Fukushima nuclear plant, news of which are not promising. Plus, there is a fear that radioactive fallout would contaminate future sea salt. The first I had heard of it was a mention of QQ news this morning stating just those pieces of “information.”
I’m rather fascinated by the background, though, and a “deep description” of culture – or at least the beginnings of that – has to go farther than just some news item.