Only at the Co-op: The Sacred Nutrition of Basil Varieties and Sorrel

Where else can you find sorrel and four different kinds of basil for making pesto, or putting in salad, pasta dishes, scrambled eggs, or soup? Why eat an ordinary sandwich when it could be extraordinary with the addition of a few of these flavorful leaves? (Think cheese-tomato-basil or really out-of-the-box creative: PB&J with sorrel.)


            Sorrel: Lemon-citrus-green apple

            Genovese Basil: Familiar Italian classic in pesto or with mozzarella and tomato

            Thai Basil: Anise-licorice-clove

            Taiwanese Basil: Milder than Thai

            Tulsi (Holy) Basil: Sacred herb of India

Any of these can be used separately or together with other herbs in a fresh herb tea. If you are not used to herb teas (or even if you are), try adding a splash of fruit juice to make a tisane.

For those of us who have studied traditional medicine, the produce department at the co-op is a pharmacy. Basils are part of the mint family and as such they have a lifting, energizing quality. In contrast with peppermint, which is cool, basils are more warm. They can stimulate appetite, aid digestion, help with breathing and clear your head. Tulsi is revered as one of the sacred plants of India, gifted with restorative and spiritual powers. This useful and treasured healing herb traveled centuries ago along trade routes from India to Europe, where it became known to Christians as holy basil. And in case you’re thinking tulsi is the only basil that is used as medicine, modern scientific research has shown that Thai basil is the most effective basil to use as a wash to help with acne.

If you are experiencing burning pain or itchiness, or if you tend toward acid reflux you may find that sorrel or bitter herbs like dandelion (which I saw at the co-op yesterday—good in eggs or salad) are more therapeutic for you; but for most people any herb is fine for occasional enjoyment. Mix them into your food, sample them as tea. Gradually you will learn what helps you feel your best!

Written by Mary-Jo Johnson

Danielle Adams