Today's panic in China centered around salt. Rumors that future production of salt from the sea would be contaminated with radioactive particles coupled with the belief that consumption of salt is the best prevention/treatment for radioactive poisoning triggered nation-wide panic buying of salt.
Here's a report and photos from Shanghaiist:
An epidemic of panic buying hit supermarkets and stores across China beginning yesterday as shoppers laid their hands on any salt they could find under the false assumption that the ubiquitous food seasoning offers protection against radiation exposure. Multiple branches of the supermarket chain Carrefour in Beijing and Shanghai told CNN that their salt supplies have been effectively cleared out as of this morning. To allay fears, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has released a chart on its Web site which shows radiation levels in 41 Chinese cities to be normal. Potassium iodide tablets have also been snapped up at pharmacies, despite the explicit warning that such pills should not be consumed unless the government recommends it. In a mass text message sent out today, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce assured local residents that the city has enough stockpiles of salt, and that panic buying should be avoided.
A few years back I read an interesting book about salt. The title is, well, Salt, and it's written by Mark Kurlansky. Salt is one of the few substances that a body needs in order to survive. Therefore, the production and management of salt has figured prominantly in governance down through the ages.
It's a great book. Have at it!