Saturday, November 9, 2013

Is My New Favorite Herb Going to Kill Me?

I discovered an herb called Sorrel this year and boy do I love it. I have two Sorrel plants, which is a perennial herb, although it looks more like a leafy green. The flavor is a combination of sweet, tangy and spicy. One thing I read compares it to the flavor of kiwi fruit and yeh, it kind of is in a way. I have loved having it in salads.

Earlier this week I was enjoying some Sorrel in my salad and decided to look up more info about it online. I read some disturbing things that made me actually STOP eating my salad! I read it can lead to kidney, brain, heart, and liver damage and can be fatal in large amounts! Woah, should I really be eating this stuff????? The problem is it contains oxalic acid. Spinach also has oxalic acid, but I guess maybe not in the same amounts...oxalic acid is also the reason you cannot eat rhubard leaves. The more I read, the more I thought I better stop eating this. One thing I read said you would have to eat pounds and pounds of it for it to be fatal, but that if you have had kidney stones you need to avoid it. My dad had kidney disease, so I certainly don’t want to put myself at risk for that.

Several herb and gardening websites extol the virtues of Sorrel – it is extremely high in Vitamin C and also is a good source of Iron, Potassium, and Vitamin A. I found recipes for Sorrel Soup and lots of references to adding it to salads. So really, it can’t be that bad, right? I really wish I knew an herbalist or someone like that who can tell me if it really is that risky to eat. Maybe I will contact a Master Gardener or my local gardening extension and ask about it. That might put my mind at ease...or make me reconsider putting it in my salad...not sure which.

What is the lesson learned here? Take the time to learn about what you are eating, practice moderation, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Will I stop eating Sorrel? Hmmm, no, I think not totally. However, I will eat less of it and not eat it so often...just in case... It sure does add a nice zest to a salad, though!

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