So, with the way the world around us is evolving and reacting to the imminent threat of the Covid-19 virus, and all the problems that are manifesting because of this threat to our health, you might be wondering what is something concrete that you can do.
I, personally am looking at food: what can I
grow that will give me the least amount of expenditure with the largest amount of return? One of the foods that comes to mind is basil.
There are many types/flavors of basil: spicy, sweet, Thai (anise-flavored), Genovese (we have a new variety: a late blooming, columnar Genovese type here that at MBG that will be available soon), African Blue (VERY basily flavored), lime, purple, lettuce leaf (very large
leaves – great to place on a sandwich instead of lettuce), and then there are the holy basils. Basils, with more than 64 species native to the tropics and subtropics of the Old and New World – especially Africa, are generally nutritious.
Fresh basil supplies us with beta-carotene (an antioxidant which is turned to
vitamin A once we ingest it). Two tablespoons of basil supplies us with 20% of our daily requirements of vitamin K. Basil contains flavonoids and volatile oils such as linalool, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene and limonene, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Scientists have found that these oils might be antimicrobial against bacteria, yeast, and mold. Iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, and potassium are also found in basils.
My favorite basil is Holy Basil (aka Tulsi). There are many different holy basils such as Vana, Krishna, Rama, Kapoor, and one that is going by the name of Temperate. The
Temperate and the Kapoor tulsis grow nicely here in the Mid-South and are my choices for growing. These two holy basils smell and taste fruity with a touch of cooling cloves. Holy basil is listed as an adaptogen (adaptogens reduce stress on the body and its systems-both mentally and physically).
Traditionally, holy basil has been used for reducing stress, enhancing the immune system, promoting longevity, improving metabolic oxygenation, increasing endurance, fighting infections, and improving digestion.
Don’t have a lot of money? Buy one basil (any basil!) and propagate it with cuttings. Add fresh basil to canned soups such as tomato to elevate the flavor. Use basil to make pastes, pestos, and chimichurri sauces. Take a handful of leaves and make a “tea,” or, more accurately, an infusion, and drink it hot or cold. Crush a few leaves and drop them into your water bottle for a simple aromatic punch of flavor.
Food? Medicine? Food as medicine! Whatever you call it, basil is a frugal, flavorful
addition to your menu.
(This is not intended to be medical advice: please consult with your doctor before using basil as a medicine.)
By Sherri McCalla, Herb Garden Curator