A Gift From Mother Nature

Basil For Beginners

Herbs For Flavor
And Flair

Herbs The Friendly Plants

Home Made Herbal Teas

Herbs - The Friendly Plants

"I believe that for everything that can go wrong with a body on this planet, the cure or prevention is also to be found on this planet." Sylvia Richards

Though long neglected by the fast-paced Western world, herbs have always been our friends. Some folks have never forgotten this. Gardeners have always loved then for their beauty, scent and eco-friendliness; gourmets have held a special interest in them for their exquisite flavouring, and healers the world over have nurtured them for their healing properties.

Culinary and medicinal traditions developed over thousands of years, passed through the Romans, via the monasteries, to the Elizabethan still-rooms, and on down the years. Early American pioneers faced with food shortages and illness in isolated places fell back on the traditions of their homelands or adopted the Native American lore and practices. From the mid 18th century onward, these time-honoured traditions became less and less used, because of scientific developments which provided new medications and encouraged the artificial production of many natural products and flavourings. But the use of herbs for both medicinal and culinary purposes has enjoyed an enormous revival in recent years. This renewed interest is more than a whimsical revival of quaint historic customs. It is born of a growing need for greater personal involvement in our own holistic health care and a demand for the restoration of flavour and nutrition in our food.

The food we buy in supermarkets is pre-processed, pre-packaged, thematically sealed, untouched by human hand, totally hygienic, and unbelievably dull! In all this industrial preparation, important substances are lost resulting in a loss of the natural quality and flavour of food in general. In fact some products end up so utterly devoid of flavour and nutrients that artificial ones have to be added! Industrialization and mechanization are taking out valuable nutrients, adding harmful substances and diminishing flavour. Eggs from battery hens, chemically sprayed crops, and hormone-fed meat will never be as good as the natural products. Though there is a huge shift back to organic farming and "Green" behaviour, the logistics of feeding large amounts of people require at least some industrialization.

So how do we get back the goodness and taste that has been stripped from our food? Why, we turn to our faithful friends, the herbs. Herbs can help us to restore some of the value and provide natural flavours to make our “oh so clean” food palatable enough to actually enjoy. Try adding a few herbs (fresh or dried) and a little single cream to a pre-packaged soup, or some mint to frozen peas. You’ll find the improvement to the flavour hard to believe. It’s fairly well known that fennel improves many fish dishes, that basil goes well with tomatoes, and rosemary enhances the flavour of lamb, but this is only a beginning. There are any number of dishes that would benefit by the addition of just the right herbs.

It isn’t only the senses of taste and smell, which will benefit from the use of herbs - there are huge health benefits as well. Herbs contain certain substances such as mineral salts, volatile oils and bitter principles, which add to healthy functioning of the body if taken daily. It’s true that these substances can be isolated, extracted from the plants (or artificially synthesized) and administered in the form of pills. Now, I’m no doctor, but it does seem reasonable that this little herbal package of active substances should be used whole, rather than be analysed, and broken down into chemical components. Important principles, and also the value of the inter- action of various principles, may be lost. Perhaps we should acknowledge that Mother Nature knows what she is doing, and leave well alone.

Most herbs are easy to grow in your own back garden or even on a windowsill. This makes them inexpensive, and lets you control how organic you want to be. New methods of preserving herbs have been developed, so that they retain their green colour, value, and flavour throughout the year. Growing herbs has never been more worth while. Recipes can be tried out with new herbs and continued all the year round, without missing any flavour or fragrance during winter months.

Start a herb garden - say "Hello!" to some old friends!

By Sylvia Richards 15th August 2009

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NOTE: The writer is not a medical professional. The information in this article and on the Spiritual Haven web site is NOT medical advice. Consult a trained doctor or herbalist before attempting any treatment. We are not responsible for any misuse of information posted on this site.


© 2009 Sylvia Richards www.yourspiritualhaven.com All rights reserved