Garlic - Facts, Folklore, Flavor, and Flowers
Used both for a culinary seasoning and for medicinal purposes, garlic has been a part our culture for thousands of years. Here are just a few of the many fascinating highlights of facts and folklore related to garlic.
Garlic production, then and now
This staple food has been in the human diet for over 7,000 years. It has been grown throughout the world, with China now being the largest annual producer. With the exception of Alaska, every state in the U.S. grows garlic.
The city of Gilroy in California is known as the “garlic capital of the world”. Although they do grow garlic, Gilroy’s reputation seems to come from the fact that they process more garlic (powdered, minced, pickled) than any other factory in the world. Gilroy even celebrates their love of garlic with an annual Garlic Festival.
Have you heard garlic referred to as the ‘stinking rose’? This source tells us that the ancient Greek name for garlic was scorodon. According to Fulder and Blackwood, French physician Henri Leclerc derived this from skaion rodon which he translated into French as ‘rose puante’ - in English, ‘stinking rose’.
From deterring bats and vampires to other dark forces, garlic has a place in folklore around the world. In European tradition, garlic has the ability to ward off the ‘evil eye’. Would you send your child to school wearing a necklace of garlic? This practice from the early 20th century in Italy may have kept children well, but maybe not so popular with their schoolmates!
Historical studies, facts and medicinal uses
- Hippocrates recommended garlic for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy, and digestive disorders.
- In 1858, Louis Pasteur noted garlic's antibacterial activity.
- During WW1, garlic was known as the ‘Russian Penicillin’ as the Red Army physicians relied heavily on garlic to treat wounds.
- In the 1940s the Nobel Prizewinner Dr. Arthur Stoll proved the antimicrobial properties of garlic.
- Garlic has a reputation for protecting people from mosquito bites.
- In a 1955 Russian study it was shown that when used therapeutically, garlic extract binds with heavy metals in the body and aids in their elimination.
- Garlic was also found to bind with the heavy metals cadmium and mercury in experiments in Japan.
- Research by Paavo Airola, Ph.D, N.D. showed that garlic can reduce lipid fat levels in the liver and blood. He also reported on 114 patients in clinical trials, that garlic can reduce high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
- A German study showed people taking garlic had an 11% reduction in blood sugar levels.
- U.S. research has showed that garlic releases 15 different antioxidant chemicals.
- At the University of California, Los Angeles, Bernard Jensen found that the extract of garlic retarded the growth of skin cancer cells.
- Professor Alexander Gurwitch, a Russian electrobiologist, discovered that garlic emits a type of ultraviolet radiation called Mitogenic Radiations. These ‘Gurwitch rays’ have a cell-stimulating growth capability, with a generalized rejuvenating effect on the body.
But not everything is well with this stinking rose
Although garlic is not commonly considered an allergenic food, some people do have a sensitivity or reaction when consuming it. Typical symptoms are stomach pains or other gastric distress. Bernard Jensen, the renowned American healer and herbalist, has warned that in some people, long-term consumption of more than one raw clove of garlic a day can irritate the digestive tract.
Garlic scapes (edible flowers)
When you think garlic, most people think of garlic cloves. But another edible part of the garlic plant is the scape or garlic ‘flowers’ that form above ground. Garlic flowers are a good source of protein, vitamin C and calcium and can provide many of the health benefits of the garlic bulb.
A mild garlicky zing without garlicky breath
Le Petit Mas, situated in rural southeast Quebec, grows organic garlic. Harvested in the bud stage at the summer solstice, the flowers are fermented in organic cold pressed sunflower oil with Caldwell's starter culture for two months. These unique Garlic Flowers are easy to digest, and have a deliciously mild garlic flavor, but without the strong taste or smell of garlic.
These raw cultured Garlic Flowers are most often served as a condiment - delicious in salads, spread on crackers or with a dollop atop avocado on the half shell. But don’t stop there! Check out these great recipes for using these very special Garlic Flowers.
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