It’s quite amazing how an otherwise bland food item can be completely transformed by adding a sprinkle of something aromatic into the mix. In Western societies eating must have been a chore before we discovered the art of external flavoring. These days who would even contemplate passata without basil and oregano, or anything even vaguely Mediterranean without garlic?
A number of small businesses grow and sell herbs and spices to an increasingly receptive market. Here are just a few that are seen increasingly in chains and independent nutritionist stores around the high street.
Often called “the Amazon Boost”, acai berry is a natural juice powder of South American origin which is extracted from grape. It is rich in antioxidants and some studies suggest it may help boost cognitive function, protect the heart and prevent cancer. Millions believe in it as a provider of multiple health benefits, making it one of the most popular health food products on the market.
St. John’s Wort
Usually available in chopped or powdered form from renowned suppliers such as Botanic Universe, St. John’s Wort is a herbal remedy which has been used for hundreds of years in the treatment of mental health problems, anxiety and depression. Its pale green leaves are rectangular, sessile and have oil glands which can be seen when held up to light.
A seaweed found in a wide variety of locations but usually sourced from Northern Europe, bladderwrack provides a rich combination of nutrients including iodine, sulfur, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, silicon and vitamins A, B, C, E and G. Historically it has been used to make various medicines. Its use as a source of iodine has led to its use in the treatment of thyroid problems.
This is a rich source of vegetable protein as well as healthy fats, vitamins and minerals including zinc and magnesium. Its edible seeds are green and flat, and can be rinsed and roasted. Often they are eaten by themselves as an enjoyable, crunchy snack but some prefer to take it in powdered form. Both varieties are freely available from most leading health food shops.
The seed from the mustard plant can be yellow or black, and is an important spice in many cultures from around the world although its origins are usually South Asian. When ground and mixed with water, vinegar or other liquid solutions they form the popular condiment that is used by millions of consumers in the form of prepared mustard.
Unlike most other spices henna is used externally in the preparation and application of body art. Usually sourced from the Middle and Far East of Asia, it is commonly used for dyeing leather, silk and wool as well as the human skin (in which it is also often called mehndi) as a form of temporary exotic tattoo substitute. Many people sell mehndi art as a small business at public events.