Authored by Michelle Jebsen, Public Health Nutrition Student

Herbs are a wonderful addition to the farmers market, offering a stronger local spice or flavor you can throw in your mix of produce or meat. The word herb actually originated from the Latin word “herba” which means green crops. Herbs are distinguished from vegetables because like spices they are used in smaller portions and provide the flavor and not the substance to different dishes. Some herbs are however also considered vegetables such as garlic or peppers. Herbs are plant products derived from leaves, bark, berries, roots, seeds, stems, and flowers.

Herbs have a variety of uses such as for culinary, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. For example the phytochemicals found in plants have effects on the body and can be used for medicinal reasons such as to relieve stress or depression. A common herbal extract used for this purpose is one found in St. John’s Wort. Some herbs have been used for thousands of years in some cultures that perceive herbs as effective and safe means of achieving optimal health.

Although herbs are not typically perceived as nutritionally rich due to their smaller quantities used in food compared to other fresh ingredients, some herbs have notably measurable nutritional value such as fennel and parsley. Fennel has relatively high levels of vitamin C and parsley has a greater concentration of beta carotene than carrots. Take advantage of the herbs that are available at the market. They will add healthy delicious flavors throughout your day whether being in the morning in your tea or later that night in your chicken and potatoes. You cannot go wrong with using local herbs to spice your food.