Over 80% of the garlic sold worldwide comes from China. In fact, last year the U.S. alone imported 138 million pounds. Although most consumers assume that their garlic was grown in California, the “Garlic Capital of the World,” in reality, it was shipped from China. Even “organic” garlic is often from China, where organic certification methods can not be trusted.
Chinese garlic is bleached. According to Henry Bell of the Australian Garlic Industry Association, garlic from China is sprayed with chemicals to stop sprouting, to whiten garlic, and to kill insects and plant matter. He also reports that garlic is grown in untreated sewage, “Bell also calls into question some growing practices in China.
“I know for a fact that some garlic growers over there use raw human sewage to fertilize their crops, and I don’t believe the Australian quarantine regulations are strict enough in terms of bacteria testing on imported produce,” he says. “I also challenge the effectiveness of the Chinese methyl bromide fumigation processes.” (Source)
Chinese garlic is heavily fumigated with methyl bromide to get rid of any bugs. Methyl bromide is a very toxic hazard. Exposure to high concentrations can cause damage to the respiratory and central nervous systems, even death. According to the UN it is 60 times more damaging than chlorine and is the base of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons).
Chinese garlic is also contaminated with lead, sulfates and other unsafe compounds. Chinese garlic may be treated with growth inhibitors and subjected to cold temperatures, as well as over-storage. Over storage is particularly problematic as levels of allicin, one of the major constituents in garlic responsible for its health benefits, start to decline over time.
Fortunately, you can easily spot the difference between California-grown fresh garlic and imported garlic. Here’s how to spot a California-grown bulb:
California-grown garlic has some of its roots left on the bottom.
California-grown garlic is heavier than imported garlic.
California-grown garlic is much more flavorful.