As with all produce, the reasons for buying certified organic are many, and garlic is no different. Firstly, whether it is garlic, carrots or apples, the level of chemicals on each crop is removed therefore the toxic load on your body is reduced by choosing organic.
Secondly, with certified organic farming, there are no Genetically Modified or Engineered seeds sneaking in.
Thirdly organic farming leads to healthier communities (see our bio on Googa Farms), both physically, socially and economically.
Additionally the total impact on the earth of conventional farming is huge – it seems an extreme reason but it is more personal than you think. The sheer number of chemicals being used on our soils worldwide effects the insects that pass through that field, then continues to persist in the food-chain of the birds or other animals that feed on those insects – sometimes even 100’s of km’s away. The chemicals will also pass into our waterways and our air, again often being distributed across towns and borders indiscriminately.
All very good reasons to choose certified organic produce where possible. For further information, have a read of our blog “Certified Organic, Free-range or Chemical Free – what is the difference?”.
A large proportion of supermarket Garlic is imported, often from China. The Australian government requires all imported garlic be to be sprayed with methyl bromide (see ncbi.nlm.nib.gov paper on “Toxicology of methyl bromide”) which is highly toxic. Additionally most of the garlic seen on the shelves are bleached white with chlorine to make them aesthetically pleasing. (Eeeww!!).
On the flip side, certified organic garlic is often seeded, grown, weeded, harvested and packed usually by hand, with no chemicals, no genetically modified components and definitely no bleaching or methyl bromide!
Sadly, non-organic Australian garlic is not immune from the rigours of conventional growing either. As with any non-organic crop, farms are often tied to quantity and speed over quality & health, which usually leads to chemical spraying and bulk harvesting.
It is funny how some people shy away from food that is alive. One of the effects of spraying imported garlic is that it kills its ability to sprout i.e. to ‘reproduce’.
Domestic, certified organic garlic will sprout as it heads into the cooler months, meaning it is getting ready to be planted – very much alive. Additionally, despite old wives tales of sprouting garlic being toxic or causing all manner of illness, sprouting garlic is actually more powerful in its anti-oxidant capacity than younger non-sprouting garlic as a recent study in Korea discovered.
What to do with sprouted garlic
I feel there are really only 3 simple options:
- Eat it as it is. If the clove is still firm and the sprout is small, simply use it as normal, chopped, crushed or sliced. The sprout should have little or no effect on your dish.
- Remove the sprout. Some feel the sprout can be a little bitter. I do not find that, however if that is you, simply slice the bulb in half and pull out the sprout. Use the bulb as usual.
- Plant it. Break the head into individual bulbs and plant them with the sprout up in well-composted soil. A rule of thumb is 1 hand width (10cm) from other bulbs and as deep as the bulb is tall. April/May is the usual time to plant garlic and November is the time to harvest.
Whatever you choose to do with your sprouted garlic, know that it is perfectly fine to eat – actually even better for you – as it is alive and organic and definitely toxin-free! Enjoy! JJxx
PS Apparently the same rules apply to sprouting onions and shallots - use them as they are, or chop off the sprouting end of the shallots, plant the roots and use the greens.