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Loved or not, garlic has come into its own

April is National Garlic Month. This revered bulb has been an offering to the gods and despised as a substance to be fed to pigs. For centuries it has been used as food, money, medicine and an aphrodisiac. This pungent herb is one of the oldest cultivated plants and there are over 2.5 million acres in garlic cultivation and is in season year-round. It originated in ancient times in the Mediterranean or farther east.

In the 17th century a few varieties of garlic came to North America with the first Polish, German and Italian settlers. A close cousin of garlic has grown in North America for hundreds of years. Native Americans used this plant as an addition to drinks and as medicine.

In England garlic breath was deemed entirely unsuitable for refined young ladies and the gentlemen who wished to court them. Americans adopted this attitude and didn’t embrace garlic until the 1940s. It was given to soldiers in WWII as medicine.

In a turn to the favorable side, garlic consumption in...

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