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Local Farm Cultivating the Benefits of Turmeric

by and on January 09, 2020 5:00 AM

Turmeric is having a moment. The curious-looking earthy spice has moved beyond powdered pills to become the trendy new staple ingredient found in juices, smoothies and lattes.

“A lot of people think it’s only supposed to be eaten in a pill form or as a supplement, but they should think of turmeric as just another vegetable,” said Erik Hagan, farm manager of Windswept Farm in State College. “It can be used as a daily vegetable. It can be eaten raw on salads – grated like a carrot. (Our turmeric is) much more of a fresh vegetable. It’s not as pungent, so it’s not overpowering, yet it has the same health benefits as what people are buying in pill form.”

Turmeric is related to ginger and is commonly found in Indian and Middle Eastern food (think curry). It’s also touted for its health benefits (hence the pills), some of which have more scientific support than others. Hagan has grown turmeric very successfully at Windswept Farm, and both the farm and its on-site restaurant, RE Farm Café, are working to educate the public about ways to incorporate the spice into everyday cooking.

RE Learn, Windswept Farm’s educational division, will offer a turmeric and ginger cooking class on Jan. 21. Fresh turmeric is also available for purchase through RE Fresh, the farm’s online market.

“At Windswept Farm, fresh turmeric and ginger grow in abundance,” the café’s website says. “Come learn about the amazing health benefits and the anti-inflammatory properties that these roots contain. We will explore different ways to use ginger and turmeric, from making tea to cooking with it. This class will involve a lot of discussion and tastings and each participant will go home with their own ginger and turmeric from the farm.”

Hagan says the curcuminoids found in turmeric are credited with being powerful anti-inflammatories that help reduce the effects of arthritis, joint pain, Lyme disease and so forth. Studies have also shown the benefits of turmeric are even more pronounced when the spice is eaten together with black pepper.

“Turmeric is not a silver bullet, but it’s a powerful tool,” says Hagan.

According to the National Institutes of Health, preliminary studies found that curcuminoids may:

- Reduce the number of heart attacks bypass patients had after surgery;

- Control knee pain from osteoarthritis as well as ibuprofen did; and

- Reduce the skin irritation that often occurs after radiation treatments for breast cancer.

“I think it’s significant to treat turmeric as a vegetable, because you could just eat it all the time and slowly get these health benefits,” Hagan says. “It’s not like taking a pill as medicine because you have to treat the problem you have in that moment; it’s something you’re doing regularly and starting to build a healthier lifestyle with more vitality and more of those antioxidants running through your system constantly. It’s a preventative route.”

For more information about cooking classes and RE Farm’s online market, visit

Turmeric, a relative of ginger, is a spice known for its health benefits, and it grows in abundance locally at Windswept Farm in State College. Photo by Teresa Mull/For the Gazette

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Teresa Mull
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