andrew schneider investigates

March 10, 2008

Garlic grown in sewage?

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Food labeling — Andrew Schneider @ 18:19

I’m willing to tread carefully when I stock the larder from which I feed my family and friends. I know when to go organic and when to buy conventional. I carry the Monterey Aquarium’s list of safe fish and avoid things that Cook’s Illustrated says are bad. But now we have garlic from China grown in sewage. What’s next?

Garlic is recognized as a valuable ingredient in maintaining a healthy life and combating disease. However what looks to be perfectly natural could in fact be treated with chemicals. So the question is: where is your garlic from, and how has it been treated? says Lynn Berry of

She tells us that the bulk of the world’s garlic is produced in China where the cost of labor significantly reduces the cost of the manual processing that garlic requires. For this reason, in those countries that accept imported garlic (including the U.S. and Australia, but none in Europe), buying imported garlic is cheaper.

Despite this, Chinese garlic does not meet food safety protocols (at least those in Australia). According to Henry Bell of the Australian Garlic Industry Association, garlic from China is doused in chemicals to stop it from sprouting, to whiten it and to kill insects and plant matter. He also reports that garlic is grown in untreated sewage.


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