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Tasty Garden Goodness ‘Harvesting for Health’ By Candy Webb

Ancient Africans harvested herbs for healing. Their use of natural plant-based remedies as medicine is documented as far back as 3400 B.C. Ancient Egyptians recorded some of the oldest written medicinal studies known to man, and they included herbal medications. As a matter of fact, indigenous peoples on every continent have rich histories of their use of healing plants. Unfortunately, after the introduction of manufactured and synthetic drugs, societies moved almost completely away from the use of plant-based therapies losing many of the practices and much of the knowledge attributed to our ancestor’s findings.

While modern-day drugs are beneficial in the treatment of disease, some ailments can be treated and possibly even prevented by the use of plant-based remedies. Today’s scientific community is finally acknowledging the benefits of the inclusion of natural remedies in physical and mental wellness regimens. A well-known example is turmeric, a 4,000-year-old (at least) herbal remedy used for joint health and as an aid in the pain associated with arthritis. Turmeric is also thought to assist in the body’s fight in preventing cancer.

Chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, each herb has its own distinct taste and unique way of benefiting our health. Cilantro or coriander is a great example of the amazing health benefits of just one herb. Not only is cilantro rich in antioxidants and antimicrobials, but it is thought to also help in lowering blood sugar, aiding in digestion, and serving as an anti-inflammatory. All of this plus it adds a warm, spicy taste to boost the lusciousness factor in your food.

While you are harvesting and storing the last of your garden goodies this year, be sure to include your herbs. Basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, chamomile, oregano, chives, dill, fennel, mint, cilantro, tarragon, aloe, lemongrass, and so many more can all be stored for later use. Most herbs are easily dried for keeping. Others are best kept by freezing in water or oil.

My favorite thing to do when creating a pasta sauce is to add an ice cube full of basil to the pot. Measure a tablespoon of chopped basil leaves into each section of an ice cube tray, fill it with water, and freeze. Once the cubes are completely frozen, remove them from the tray and place them in a freezer bag or container for use later. Pre-measuring the herb means you won’t need to wonder how much you’re adding to the recipe. During cooking, the ice melts, and the flavor bursts almost as if you had freshly chopped leaves.

A great deal of research and testing still needs to be carried out before all of the advantages of vegetation for health and healing are learned. Common sense dictates embracing the wisdom of our ancestors, though, and so I, for one, will be in the garden again this year harvesting my herbs to store safely for use until springtime allows me to grow them fresh again.

Wishing you all a wonderful harvest season this year!

Candy Webb is a freelance writer, consultant, entrepreneur and owner of Taste of Candy. Visit www.tasteofcandy.com for more Tasty Garden Goodness.