For the Love of Organics: Culinary Herbs

Do March winds leave you feeling restless? We have just the tonic—a culinary journey around the world with fresh herbs! From Italian to Mexican, Thai to French, these aromatic ingredients are essential to our favorite dishes’ distinctive flavors. And they’re loaded with the “anti’s” too: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bland!24 Shall we start adventuring?

Culinary herbs

We'll Go to the End of the World for Parsley

Let’s head way down south, to Patagonia, and on the way stop by an asado, the South American version of a barbecue. We’re here for the chimichurri, the flavorful Argentinian sauce served alongside grilled meat and featuring one of our herbs du jour, parsley.1 Phytonutrient to know: Parsley is a top source of apigenin, a flavonoid with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and of interest for its potential protective role against diseases like cancer.2 3 Some of the beneficial effects of apigenin seen in studies include inducing cancerous cell death and stimulating important detoxification enzymes.4 We’ll take a serving of this flavonoid with our chimichurri, please! Choose organic because: As reported by Beyond Pesticides, the synthetic pesticides approved for use on parsley come with a range of negative effects. Thirteen are linked to health issues like cancer, 12 are poisonous to wildlife, and seven are toxic to honeybees and other pollinators.5 So, consider the downstream impacts when choosing a bunch.


We’ll Rush to The Shores Where Basil Is Gold

Heading north now, we have a balmier clime in our sights: the Mediterranean. Here, in Italy’s Liguria region, we can discover pesto’s secrets and the herb it cannot exist without, basil. With pesto alla genovese waiting for us by candlelight, let’s have a quick look at the nutritious details of basil.6


Phytonutrient(s) to know


Rosmarinic acid is one of the main phenolic compounds in basil, studied for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties.7 8 And here’s a nutritious fun fact: Basil also contains chicoric acid, one of the primary immune-supporting components of echinacea purpurea!9 10


Choose organic because


The synthetic pesticides approved for basil, according to Beyond Pesticides, include 18 linked to chronic health issues, 16 that are poisonous to wildlife, and five that contaminate streams and groundwater.11 That is certainly not buon appetito to our culinary adventure, so let’s stick with organic. 


Well Cross an Ocean or Two for Cilantro

Finally, we head southwest toward another sparkling sea, the Caribbean. We’ll land somewhere on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and spend an afternoon lounging beneath the palms, with a book, a drink, and some fresh ceviche topped with cilantro. But first, what should we learn about this zesty herb?


Phytonutrient to know


Quercetin is abundant in many fruits and veggies, including cilantro,12 and that’s excellent news because this flavonoid is known for being an “outstanding antioxidant.”13 Animal studies have found that quercetin inhibits LDL oxidation, a key step in developing hardening of the arteries.14 15 16 17 This antioxidant has also been shown to reduce viral-induced inflammation, lung inflammation, and reduce the damaging effects of oxidative stress on the lungs. 18 19 20 21


Choose organic because


In 2011, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that cilantro had the highest number of unapproved (for that crop) pesticide residues recorded since they began tracking USDA testing data.22 As of 2020, cilantro hadn’t cleaned up its record much, with the EWG noting that its pesticide residue profile was similar to that of two Dirty Dozen list regulars— spinach and kale.23 Next time you buy a bunch of this tender-leafed herb, make it organic!


References Available Upon Request