Full of spice

Kew Gardens is having a spice festival, from now until September. Check out http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/full-of-spice. You can have a spice cocktail, make spiced breads, listen to spice-related music, history and botanical facts. You can dance and paint and tell spice stories. You can even climb inside giant inflatable spices, though I don’t recommend the onion.
The point of all this is to make spices fun and accessible, not just to children but to everyone. Most of us don’t know much about where our food comes from, let alone what it does besides tasting good and filling us up. I’d have liked to see more on why, say, a korma or a jalfrezi contains particular spices in particular amounts. More about the medicinal actions of the spices in your curries, and how you can balance them yourself to suit your own health needs. If you know, for example, that turmeric and wasabi – among many others – have some useful anticancer activities, you might go home and use them a little more in your daily diet. Or the vast range of aromatic spices, all of which help digestion, and some of which do a great deal more. Did you know that cinnamon helps control blood sugar? Or that chilli can lower blood pressure – yes, really – and heal nerve damage?
You can’t have too much information when it comes to self-help, as long as you have some means of evaluating how ‘real’ it is. And Kew has experts on hand to answer your questions. But for me, one of the best things is to see the spices alive and growing, right here in England. That’s a privilege for which Kew deserves our heartfelt thanks.

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