Author: Candace Giuffre
Published: Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Garlic seems to be one of those ingredients that end up in all of my recipes. From salad dressing to soups, casseroles, eggs, you name the recipe and there is garlic. I have always enjoyed browsing the local farmers’ markets for my vegetables, eggs, and meats but I never thought twice about buying garlic from the grocery until a friend of mine (who grows garlic) mentioned that most of the garlic that is sold in the US comes from China. I was shocked, but in the end it made sense when the bell peppers on the store shelves were being flown in from Spain and Holland. Being a number person I had to get the facts. I visited the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center website and found that in 2010 the US imported over 160 million pounds of garlic. The garlic I had been purchasing from the grocery store had traveled over seven thousand miles. I was sold. I am now planning my first garlic crop and thought that I would share my experience along with some belly warming fall recipes.
How to Plant Garlic:
Garlic is planted in the fall around mid-September through mid-October. Break apart the cloves ensuring that the papery skins remain intact and carefully select the healthy cloves from the bulb. Anything not worth planting can be used to spice up your favorite recipe. Fill a quart jar with one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of liquid seaweed. Soak the cloves in this for two hours before planting. This soak helps to protect the cloves from any fungal infections and encourage them to grow.
As with most plants, make sure your soil is fertile, well-drained and weed free. Dig three inch furrows about seven inches apart. Place the clove in the furrow, root end down, pointy end up.
Cover the cloves with the soil and sidedress with compost. Water the bed and cover with about seven inches of straw. In four to six weeks shoots should be sprouting up.
Planting garlic and buying local garlic can reduce your carbon footprint, support your local farmers, and keep you healthy. Garlic contains prebiotic fiber that helps to enhance our colon health. This nondigestable fiber is fermented by the microbiota in our colon which helps to optimize the pH of the colon and decrease any invasive pathogens that might be lingering.
Garlic is also used to help reduce some of the conditions of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The antioxidant allicin that is found in garlic is known to help induce vasorelaxation which is very beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of CVD. A recent review looked at the antioxidant and cardiovascular effects of allicin and found that other than inducing vasorelaxation it helps to prevent cardiac hypertrophy, angiogenesis, platelet aggregation, hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia. Allicin also helps to lower the level of reactive oxygen species in the body which can help with cancer prevention and reduce the risk of disease overall. The conclusion was made that allicin can be potentially developed into a health product for the cardiovascular system. Garlic can be part of a sustainable diet that contributes to your health while also supporting the sustainability of food production by choosing local garlic. So great taste and great health can come with more garlic in your life! A soup to warm your belly this winter is a Roasted Garlic Soup. This soup is a great addition to any meal and makes great leftovers too! I hope you enjoy the recipe and also start planting your own garlic or check out one of the great farmer’s markets Saint Louis has to offer.
Roasted Garlic Soup (2 Servings)