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Ginger – health-giving roots from faraway places

When it’s dark and cold outside, a mug of ginger tea will give your immune system a boost.

 

This probably explains why demand for root ginger rises steeply in winter. These unprepossessing-looking roots have long been known as an effective treatment for colds and stomach upsets. Most of the ginger on sale in supermarkets comes from China, but sometimes you’ll find more expensive ginger from Peru which is said to be higher quality.

Not roots but rhizomes

Ginger is one of the oldest spices known to man. It grows like a reed, up to two metres tall, and forms rhizomes under the soil. The rhizomes are actually shoots that grow horizontally underground. These knobbly rhizomes are commonly, and inaccurately, called roots. Most ginger today is grown in China, followed by Nigeria and India.

Cultivation in China and Peru

In 2016 in China, growers produced around 10 percent more ginger than in the previous year. After the harvest in November, the rhizomes are stored for 4-6 weeks, usually underground. After that they’re ready to be transported to Europe. The information service FreshPlaza reports that cool weather conditions in recent weeks might have impacted on the harvest. Growers in Peru are looking back on a good 2016/2017 season, but production will nonetheless be down by a third because the area planted to ginger has decreased. More and more producers are giving up planting ginger because the market is a difficult one and they cannot compete successfully with cheaper ginger from China. In response, Peru has specialised in growing organic ginger that is generally smaller and more strongly flavoured.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de