We call it ginger root, but it’s actually not a root but a rhizome—an underground stem. One of the oldest spices cultivated, ginger was used in ancient times to flavour and preserve food and to treat digestive problems. To settle an upset stomach, the Greeks ate it wrapped in bread—the precursor, perhaps, of gingerbread?
Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. It’s also widely studied for its medicinal benefits. For example, the University of Maryland Medical Center points to its use to treat nausea and vomiting due to a number of causes, as well as to allay the pain of osteoarthritis and possibly help treat heart disease. Of course, it’s also delicious in all sorts of dishes.
No need to go gingerly; just pick up that funny looking ginger rhizome at your co-op, knowing you’ll find plenty of delectable uses for it in the kitchen.