Our market garden is flourishing, with our cooler-weather superstars, such as peas, phasing out to make room for our hot hot hot Solanaceae plants; the eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. However, I would like to briefly touch upon what is one of humankind’s oldest cultivated crops, and the precursor to our entire pharmaceutical industry: Garlic.
Allium sativum, Garlic, is thought to have originated somewhere in Middle Asia. This incredible plant has been grown by humans since the dawn of recorded history, 4,000 years ago. Interestingly it played a huge role in the diets of the working class and slaves in Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. According to historians, the Egyptian ruling class spent a lot of money ensuring that the laborers building the pyramids had the nutritional garlic powerhouse to supplement their staples of porridge. Ancient Greece appears to have fed garlic to the original Olympian athletes, making garlic one of our first performance-enhancing agents.
While we farm crew cannot claim to have built pyramids, nor competed in the Olympic games, in all honesty, some of these past weeks in the field have felt close…wildfire smoke, torrential rains, heat waves, humidity, and biting insects abound. Let us, then, take heart! Our first garlic harvest was this Wednesday morning.
Throughout human history, garlic has been used to treat practically every ailment we are capable of experiencing, including painful childbirth, plagues, respiratory difficulties, fatigue, internal parasites, headaches, colds and flu, and arthritis. During my ongoing love affair with garlic, one of my stranger home remedies involved placing raw garlic in my socks overnight to break a fever. These days I stick to nibbling on one to two raw cloves a day, particularly with heavy meals. And if anyone complains, I can now reply that in doing so I am simply connecting with my larger (laboring) human heritage.