Garlic (Allium sativum), is a bold member of the lily family and a kissing cousin to onions, leeks and chives. It’s been historically used by many cultures since ancient times as a flavoring agent in cooking and as a potent medicine to prevent and treat a wide range of serious health conditions and diseases. Although garlic is considered by most to be a spice or an herb; it’s actually a small vegetable. Nevertheless, it’s primarily used as a spice, by skilled cooks around the globe. Garlic is a spice that can always be counted on to turn a blah meal into a pungent, tasty and healthy culinary experience.
(Healing garlic soup recipe included at the end of this article)
Did you know Trader Joe’s stopped selling Chinese garlic back in April 2008. Pressure from customers concerned about the safety of Chinese garlic prompted them to make the decision. Here’s the original Trader Joe’s announcement: “Garlic, frozen organic spinach and other “single ingredient” food items from mainland China will be phased out by April 1,  although products that include ingredients from both China and other sources will remain.”
Strolling through the produce section of most supermarkets you’ll soon find a display with bins or baskets of fresh garlic cloves. But, did you know that a large percentage of conventional garlic in the USA is probably from China? China leads the world in garlic production and exports, followed by South Korea (2nd), India (3rd), the United States (4th), Egypt (5th), and Spain (6th). In fact, in 2012, China produced 59 million metric tons of garlic annually, or about 66 percent of total world production.
The problem is that imported garlic has likely been in cold storage for some time before arriving in USA grocery stores. Worse yet, it’s likely been treated with some sort of toxic chemical or irradiated to inhibit sprouting and to top it off has probably been sprayed with methyl bromide, which according to the EPA is a highly toxic substance that is also proven to be 45 times more effective at destroying the ozone layer than chlorine.
The good news is that methyl bromide is gradually being phased out of agriculture: The terms of the Montreal Protocol. While U.S. growers phased out methyl bromide for most uses by 2005, farmers in developing countries, such as China and Mexico, have an extra 10 years (until 2015) to do so.
And did you know most imported fresh fruits, vegetables, some processed foods and even meats have been, gasp – irradiated! Which means its been exposed to radiation. According to the Safe Food News, Fall 1994 issue, “China has been exporting irradiated garlic. Irradiation is the process of exposing raw and/or processed food to ionizing radiation, which claims to kill disease and pathogens and extend the shelf-life by altering a plant’s (clove’s) ability to sprout. This would be a marketing advantage and one reason the big U.S. producers were trying to prohibit the garlic imports”
Unfortunately, the FDA has approved irradiation of foods in the USA as well. Your best choice for garlic is local and organic because: it offers garlic’s full array of health benefits, its non-toxic and it tastes better than chemically treated garlic.(Continue on next page)