Unused gym treadmills aren’t the only item in short supply after the holidays: Grocers say local demand for turmeric surges after New Year’s.
“This time of year, you know, everyone’s doing cleansing, juicing, New Year’s resolutions,” says a staffer at Whole Foods in Mt. Pleasant, which weekly sells 10 pounds of the root.
Turmeric, sometimes called “Indian saffron,” is commonly used in Asian cooking: At Xiao Bao Biscuit, it’s a prominent ingredient in a Vietnamese dish featuring pan-seared fish. But the peppery plant is valued as much for its health benefits as its flavor: Traditional Chinese and Indian healers have long touted turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral qualities, prescribing it as a remedy for stomach troubles, skin conditions and achy bones.
Lately, turmeric has been embraced by raw juice devotees, who claim the plant helps detoxify the liver and cleanse the kidneys. According to Google, “turmeric” searches have risen steadily over the last five years.
Most of the turmeric sold at Whole Foods in January ends up in juice, as do the 25-pound bags of carrots and two-pound bags of kale which become more popular this month. Although it’s possible to enjoy a glass of pressed turmeric, turmeric is typically used in smaller doses, much like ginger or dandelion greens.
Whole Foods receives its turmeric shipment every Wednesday.