Monday, July 31, 2017

Garlic crisis. Where have all the garlic gone?

News: Acute shortage of garlic, price skyrocketed to 300 pesos per kilo, four to five times above normal price. This is not confined in the Philippines.  Even Indonesia the fourth largest garlic producer in the world is facing the same dilemma.  Do global warming, acid rain and erratic weather conditions, not to mention poor incentive, have something to do with falling production of crops, among them garlic?    
Original title of this article - The Wonders of Garlic
Garlic not only makes food more appetizing and aromatic, it also has various healing and herbal qualities.

Dell H Grecia 
Reprinted from August 26, 2000 article of the same title

Garlic, a bulbous crop, is easy to grow. It can be potted or planted in plots or an empty container. Have you noticed that its cloves, when left alone, begin to shoot even without a medium? Which only goes to show that this crop can be grown even by an inexperienced gardener.
Newly harvested garlic

Garlic is not only easy to grow, it is a must spice in every home. It is also healthful and medicinal. In the book Calendar of Asia, written 4,000 years ago, the followers of Emperor Huang-ti, who happened to eat a poisonous plant, were saved by eating wild garlic they called suan. Since, then garlic has become an important Chinese herbal plant.

A. Power Food

Garlic bulbs were found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamen. Inscriptions on pyramids describe garlic as food and medicine. The Israelite slaves, who built the pyramids, drew their strength and nourishment from garlic. And the Bible mentioned how it was sorely missed by Moses and the Israelites while they were crossing the desert after fleeing Egypt.

Image result for Garlic

Garlic, as food and medicine, is also mentioned in the Koran, in the writings of the Babylonians, Greeks and Romans. In the history of the Vikings, garlic was also among the provisions in their long sea voyages.

B. Supernatural Powers?

Garlic Bread 
In the Middle Ages, Jewish superstition suggested that carrying garlic bulbs would protect a person from the dreaded Bubonic plague, which decimated the population of medieval Europe by more than one-third. The scientific explanation, of course, is that garlic has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties against the bacterial pathogen and its volatile oil repels the flea vector. During those times, however, the magic of garlic was ascribed to superstition. Just like in the provinces, where people still hang garlands of garlic to drive away evil spirits, vampires and witches.

C. Advent of Herbolarios
The greatest Greek doctor, Hippocrates, applied garlic on a variety of diseases, including leprosy. During his time, garlic became a popular treatment for wounds and toothaches, and as diuretic and laxative. Hippocrates is better known as the “father of medicine” and author of the Hippocratic Oath, which doctors take before joining the medicinal profession.

When the Romans conquered the Greeks, many of the latter’s medicinal practices, such as the use of garlic, where continued. The Roman doctor Dioscordes spoke highly of garlic. “It is sharp, biting, wind-producing, excites the belly, dries out the stomach, creates thirst and reduces growths on the skin. If eaten it helps eliminate tapeworms and drives out urine. It is good against the bite of a rabid dog. It makes the voice clear and soothes continuous coughing when eaten raw or boiled. Boiled with oregano, it kills lice and bed bugs. It clears the arteries. Burnt and mixed with honey, it heals white skin spots, herpetic eruptions, liver spots, leprosy and scurvy. Boiled with pine wood incense, it soothes toothache when the solution is kept in the mouth. Boiling the umbel flower is good for bathing and helps the coming menstruation.”

D. Phytochemicals in your Garlic

My friend, Dr. Abe V. Rotor, a botanist and entomologist, reports on the so-called phytochemicals of garlic. He based his report on Paul Simon’s book, Garlic, the Powerful Panacea, which described nine phytochemicals of the bulb crop:

1. Allicin- Believed to be responsible for giving garlic its anti-bacterial and anti—inflammatory effect.

2. Alliin- Garlic is known as Russian penicillin. The Russians believed, like most scientists, that alliin is the substance that produces its antibiotic quality.

3. Di-Sulphides- Believed to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in the arteries.

4. Anti-Haemolytic Factor- Responsible for the beneficial effects of garlic in the treatment of anemia.

5. Anti-Arthritic Factor- Japanese teams investigating arthritis and similar conditions claim this factor to be present in garlic.

6. Sugar Regulating Factor- It was reported in 1973 that garlic is useful in treating some forms of diabetes.

7. Anti-Oxidant Factor- A natural food preservative, garlic helps prevent foods from going rancid and spoiled.

8. Anti- Coagulant Factor- garlic contains certain active substances which appear to prevent blood from coagulating, thus benefiting certain heart conditions.

9. Allithiamin- This special type of Vitamin B1 has been isolated from garlic and has beneficial properties as explained in Nutritional Composition of Garlic.

E. A Powerful Aphrodisiac

In the book, Philippine Herbs to Increase Sexual Vitality, authored by Dr. Rotor and companions, Dr. Romualdo del Rosario and Dr. Delia Ontengco (1999), garlic was described as a powerful aphrodisiac. Its use as an aphrodisiac is widespread among Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and Germans. The East German pharmaceutical journal, Du Pharmazie , says that garlic is especially suited for men and women of climacteric age because it contains compounds related to sex hormones.

The aphrodisiac effect is also associated with the fact that it makes food more appetizing, stimulates secretion of garlic juices, increases the appetite, tones up the organs, builds stamina and strength, and generally contributes to a feeling of well-being.
Sprouting cloves ready for planting

F. Nutritional Composition

According to the US Department of Agriculture, raw garlic gives 31percent carbohydrates, 6 percent protein and 2 percent fat. Water is 61 percent.

With regard to minerals, a 100-gram dried sample has the following mineral contents: calcium (29 mg.), phosphorus (202 mg.), iron (.5 mg.), and potassium (529 mg.). Calcium is important for our bones, while phosphorus is important in the proper functioning of our brain and nerves. In fact, it is called the “brain element.” Iron aids in the oxygenation of the body. Iron deficiency is manifested by anemia. Potassium maintains the health of the heart and other muscles.

As for garlic’s vitamin content: a 100-gram raw sample contains vitamin B1 (thiamin, .25 mg.) and B2 (riboflavin, .50 mg.). It is also rich in vitamin C (15 mg.). The vitamin B family prevents arthritis and rheumatism and enhances sexual vitality. Vitamin C, on the other hand, prevents scurvy and aids in the absorption of iron. People who lack vitamin C may experience bleeding gums, slow healing of wounds, frequent colds and infections, and shortness of breath.

G. Natural Pesticide

The peculiar smell of garlic also makes it a natural pesticide. An insect-repelling plant, it can be used to protect other crops.

Here is a tip for gardeners: Plant some garlic around plots, between rows, and among the plants. Just the odor of the growing garlic is enough to repel destructive insects such as grasshoppers, aphids, mealy bugs, fruit flies and caterpillars, as well as those residing in the soil like crickets and grubs. And if there are thrips and mites around, they are attracted by the garlic, which then serves as a trap crop, thus saving the other plants like cabbage and beans. The trap crop (infested garlic plant) is then rouged and burned together with the pests.

Why not try making your own garlic insecticide? The Rodale Herb Book offers this procedure:

1. Chop 75 grams garlic cloves and soak in 50 ml. Vegetable oil for 24 hours.

2. Mix this in 575 ml. Water in which 20 grams of powdered soap has been dissolved.

3. Stir well and strain with old nylon stocking and store in a glass jar. Do not use plastic or metal container.

4. You can dilute this mother mixture one part to 20 parts water, down to 1:100, depending on the level and kind of infestation.

Entomologists at the University of California reported that even low concentrations of crude garlic extract can kill at least five species of mosquito larvae. Mosquitoes are vectors of dreaded diseases like malaria, dengue, and encephalitis. Further experiments using refined extracts were found to be more effective. Dr. Rotor tried the garlic formula on kiti-kiti (mosquito wringlers) and found it effective.

And because it is an organic pesticide, it is environment –friendly.

Unlike synthetic ones, like DDT, organic phosphates and hydrocarbons, garlic pesticides are biodegradable and, therefore, do not live toxic residues that destroy the balance of nature.

H. White Gold

Garlic is regarded by the Department of Agriculture as one of our valuable commercial crops. Farmers growing garlic, especially in the two Ilocos provinces (Sur and Norte), earn as much as three times more than those growing other crops, including rice is harvested and remains in the field before summer sets in.

Eighty percent of the national production of garlic (which is equivalent to 15,000 metric tons and worth well above P100 million a year) comes from the two provinces. However, with the present globalization policy, imported garlic- mainly from china- is threatening the local garlic industry. Imported garlic is larger in size and is cheaper. Our local variety, however, is more pungent and aromatic. ~

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