Fresh potted herbs can be found more and more often in our kitchen. Interestingly enough, in addition to improving the taste and smell of dishes, they significantly increase their nutritional value and extend food usefulness. Herbs have many beneficial properties, for example they improve the functioning of digestive system, speed up intestinal peristalsis, reduce cancer risk, have an antiatherosclerosis effect, reduce hypertension, significantly increase the body’s immunity and have a viral and bactericidal effect.
In 2017, Białystok University of Technology conducted research on the influence of extract from selected spice plants on developing selected microorganisms. Studied plants included ginger, dill, marigold flower, lovage and thyme. It turns out that the most possible bacterial inhibitory properties were indicated by the lovage extract. After 24 and 48 hour incubation, it destroyed as much as 90% of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis and Candida albicans. This research indicated similar effects of thyme, dill and ginger. Those beneficial properties of the herbs originate from presence of antioxidants, mainly: flavonoids, phenolic acid and vitamin C. However, content of these beneficial substances depends on the crop cultivation, including the use of chemical plant protection products, i.e. pesticides.
Using them is governed by law, which means that they cannot be used liberally, since a negative effect on human health has been proven. In such situation, inept use of pesticides is the most dangerous for our lives (overusing pesticides or failure to comply with plant withdrawal periods). This can lead to an oversupply of these compounds with food, which can accumulate in bodies. In this case, risk of occurrence of many civilization diseases, including cancer and infertility, increases significantly. However, not using pesticides at all in the crop activates the defence system in plant tissues by increasing the synthesis of beneficial phenolic compounds called “natural pesticides”. Studies by Young et al. indicated that chemically unprotected plants had more damage than leaf pests, but at the same time their tissues contained higher levels of aforementioned polyphenols.
Conscious producers do not use pesticides at all, which is guaranteed by their food safety certificates. Potted herbs supplied to retail chains are not only inspected in detail at each stage of the greenhouse production, but are also tested in independent chemical laboratories on behalf of the retail chains.
Origanum — a year-round supplier of potted herbs to the largest retail chains in Poland — belongs to the group of conscious producers. Origanum experts for pests and fungal diseases use natural ways that are seen in nature and adapted by scientists for greenhouse use. Aphidius Colemani is one of the natural allies, because during its short life (usually 10 days), it is able to destroy several hundred aphids. Advantages of using natural methods include human health and environment protection.
We are lucky that Origanum does not use pesticides at all. All of this is supposed to increase quality of the products and stay true to the mission of company founders, namely: “Provide only safe food to the society”. That gives us, consumers, confidence that we eat not only tasty, but mostly healthy herbs in our favourite dishes. Article was written in cooperation with Nina Łangowska, MSc — medical nutritionist, biologist, graduate of Medical University and University of Gdańsk.