One of the spices that makes Italian food so yummy is basil! Consumers who might enjoy fresh basil in their Italian dishes might have a challenge finding it in the grocery store soon. A fungus is damaging the US basil crop.
Known more scientifically as, basil downy mildew, it causes spots and lesions on basil plants highly reducing the quality of the popular herb used in Italian dishes. Organic basil growers are going to be the hardest hit because of restrictions with fungicide use on certified organic farms. As much as one-fourth of the US basil crop is being damaged by this fungus.
Here are some interesting facts I found about Basil and it really gives an economic view of the impact basil downy mildew will have:
- Basil is the most commonly grown herb in the US.
- One acre of basil can be worth more than $10,000 an acre.
- Many basil farmers are considered potted basil growers meaning their crop is grown in pots.
- Basil fungus is sensitive to warmer temperatures and drying conditions.
- The most common variety of basil used in Italian cuisine, sweet basil, is the variety hardest hit by the fungus.
If there is a shortage of fresh basil in grocery stores near me, I guess I will have to revert to dried basil for any marinara sauces I make. For my favorite dish, pesto sauce, dried basil is no substitution!
All my best,