Garlic – A Pungent Affair

by Miwa Hiroe

I recently heard someone say that they couldn’t justify buying locally grown garlic when the imported garlic from the grocery store is so much cheaper. Indeed, the price of one single bulb of farmer’s market garlic could get you a handful of bulbs from China. So why support the greater good of the local economy when it’s pitted against the economics of your own wallet? I can’t argue with the unsustainability of merely charitable purchases. However, here are 5 reasons why buying locally grown garlic is to your own benefit.

Taste

Despite its ability to add flavour, heat and substance to a dish, garlic is neither herb nor spice nor vegetable. It is a wonderfully piquant relative of the lily family. Garlic is so flavorful that even a mediocre clove would be better than none. Nevertheless, even the most inattentive palate would notice a monumental difference between a fresh, crisp, juicy, fragrant clove, and a quaggy, dry, innocuous imported clove.

Nutritional  Quality

Garlic is rich in Allicin, Vitamin C, B6, Manganese and contains scads of antioxidants. It boosts the immune system, reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol, and allegedly discourages vampires from visiting.

Soil quality plays a major role in the nutritional value of the crops it yields. Yet every year, over 90% of the garlic consumed in the world is cultivated in one specific area of China. Such mass production depletes soil while the practices required to keep up with unnaturally high demands usually involve pesticides and herbicides, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms.

Prana

Prana is the Sanskrit word for life force or energy. To measure food by its prana is to consider how close it is to something that was once alive itself – how fresh, how vital, and how nutritious it is. Garlic that was freshly picked from rich soil on a small farm is going to have a much higher Prana Index than garlic that has travelled across the world from its assembly line in Big Agriculture. Prana also considers the intention behind the food, which leads us to our next question of purchase.

Ethics

As consumers we are, albeit often unknowingly, endorsing the line of procedures that make merchandise available to us. So many goods have an inapparent back story by the time they’ve made it into our hands. Garlic is no exception. Even this unassuming grocery item sees its fair share of forced and underpaid labour, market gaming, and sleazy bureaucratic deals. I recommend watching “Garlic Breath” – an episode in the docuseries “Rotten”, for a more indepth view of the practices and politics behind these popular bulbs.

When we buy locally, we know where our goods are coming from. The why and the how behind the creation of the products are apparent and the price is a more realistic reflection of the time and effort its cultivation required.

DIY

Perhaps you are inspired to grow your own garlic, hence avoiding both imported garlic and pricier local garlic. Still, I encourage you to begin by planting locally sourced cloves. Not only can you be assured of their quality, but the plant also has the benefit of being locally acclimated. Plants adapt to climates and growing seasons, so multiple generations of homegrown garlic will beget plants that are well suited to our specific location.

Here is an exclusive recipe from the ebook “A Bowl Of Comfort”. It’s a delicious marriage between Cream Soup and Garlic. Ingenious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large head of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Litre chicken broth
  • 1 Litre whole milk
  • 1 tsp. salt, to taste
  • 1 cup whipping gream
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Croutons, optional

Method:

  • Peel and crush garlic
  • Melt butter in a 3 Litre pot and saute garlic until fragrant
  • Add flour and stir. While still white, pour in broth and whisk
  • Add the rest, minus the croutons. Continue to heat. Do not boil.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with croutons.

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