Posted date: Feb 24, 2023
by: Admin My Local Life
By Fred Wedel,
retired NRCS District Conservationist

To a Botanist, a herb is a leafy plant that doesn't grow a woody stem and usually dies back at the end of each growing season. Both grasses and forbs are herbs. To a chef, a herb is any of a vast number of aromatic or savory plants used to add flavor and character to foods. To a gardener, an herb is a delightful, easy-to-grow addition to the landscape, perennial border, or terrace urn. To anyone who uses plants medicinally, an herb is a plant that helps promote health and healing when it’s either taken internally or applied externally.

The difference between herbs and spices is that a herb is the leaf of the plant. Any other element of a plant is a spice. Spices come from dried bark, roots, a berry, seeds, twigs, or other plant matter used to season or flavor a dish of food. Herbs, the leaf part of a plant used for cooking, can be used fresh or dried. Dried herbs are often added during the cooking process to add flavor while cooking. Common dried herbs include oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Fresh herbs are often added as the last step once cooking is completed. Fresh herbs bring brightness and fresh flavor to many recipes. Common fresh herbs are mint, cilantro, and parsley.

Dried herbs should be stored in sealed jars in a cool, dark, and dry spice cabinet. Fresh herbs will last the longest if they are washed, carefully dried, gently wrapped in a paper towel, sealed into a zip-top bag, and stored in the refrigerator.

Common herbs include:

  • Bay leaves

  • Sorrel

  • Epazote

  • Cilantro

  • Italian parsley

  • Thyme

  • Oregano

  • Shiso leaves

  • Rosemary

  • Black pepper

  • Caraway seed

  • Basil

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Cinnamon

  • Dill

  • Echinacea

  • Eucalyptus

  • Fennel seed

  • Garlic

  • Ginger root

  • Horseradish

  • Mint

  • Turmeric

There are many ways to use herbs in cooking. Dried herbs are more strongly flavored than fresh herbs. As a rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals 4 teaspoons of fresh herbs. Some herbs are used only to flavor a dish, but not eaten. Bay leaves are an example.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated over 70% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines as part of their primary health care. Some health benefits of herbs include a strengthened immune system, reduced blood sugar and cholesterol, helps treat arthritis, and maintains healthy skin and hair. There are some side effects. Never assume that because herbs are "natural" they are safe. Some herbs may be inappropriate for people with certain medical conditions. Some herbs may cause allergic reactions or interact with conventional drugs. Kavakava has been linked to liver toxicity. Garlic, ginkgo, and ginger may increase the risk of bleeding.

For additional information or to locate an experienced herbalist in your area, contact the American Herbalists Guild (AHG) at

The use of herbal supplements has increased over the past 30 years. Herbal supplements are classified as "dietary supplements" by the U.S. Dietary Supplemental Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. That means herbal supplements, unlike prescription drugs, can be sold without being tested to prove they are safe and effective. However, herbal supplements must be made according to good manufacturing practices.

Herbs healthful value as a food ingredient has been realized. For one, herbs add a burst of flavor to food, allowing you to cut back on salt without sacrificing taste. Several herbs including parsley, have significant amounts of the essential vitamins A, C, and K. Some herbs easy to grow are mint, thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives, parsley, basil, and dill.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 70% to 80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicine for part of their primary health care. In Germany, 600 to 700 plant-based medicines are available and prescribed by General Physicians.

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian Papyrus writings describe medicinal uses for plants as early as 3000 B.C. Indigenous cultures (such as African and Native American) used herbs in healing rituals. Researchers found that people in different parts of the world tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.

In summary, culinary herbs are herbaceous plants used to add flavor and color to meals. Herbs are also used as medicine and as a preservative. If you find that low-fat or low-salt foods taste bland, herbs will enhance the flavor of virtually any dish including desserts. Fresh herbs are generally delicately flavored, so add them to your cooking in the last few minutes.
Other Articles You Might Be Interested In
KDA Offers Farmers’ Market and Direct-to-Consumer Virtual Workshop Series
For Immediate Release:
January 3, 2023

Media please contact:
Heather Lansdowne

MANHATTAN, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) will offer virtual workshops February 6-10, 2023, to assist farmers' market vendors and managers, and also for those wanting to sell food products directly to consumers. The workshop series includes five online Lunch and Learn sessions.

"Over the past two years, we've se
Managing Native Grazing Lands
By Fred Wedel,
retired NRCS District Conservationist

Grazing management is matching available forage to the stocking rate of the animals to be grazing the native range resource. The goal of grazing management is to market a valuable resource at a profit while maintaining and improving the range resource. The stocking rate has a huge impact on animal performance and the available range of forage resources.

The stocking rate is defined as the land area allocated to each grazing animal for
Kansas NRCS Announces Application Deadline for Organic Transition Initiative
Find the original article on the USDA website:

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will dedicate financial and technical assistance to a new organic management standard and partner with new organic technical experts to increase staff capacity and expertise.

SALINA, KANSAS, May 17, 2023 ‒ The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced deta
Conservation District Working Group Meeting
The Goodland Management Unit, Sherman County, Cheyenne County, and Wallace County Conservation Districts will be hosting a Local Working Group (LWG) meeting on Tuesday, February 14th, at 10:00 am Mountain Standard Time /11:00 am Central Standard Time at 210 West 10th (USDA) Service Center in Goodland, KS.

The purpose of this meeting is to make recommendations to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist related to addressing natural resource concerns at a local l
Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants Program
The USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production has announced the FY24 <a href="">Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Competitive Grants Program</a> Notice of Funding Opportunity. Applications are now being accepted via <a href=""></a>

These competitive grants initiate or expand the efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, govern
Future Leadership Training Classes in Cheyenne County
There is a group of leaders in Cheyenne, Rawlins, Sherman and Thomas Counties that held discussions with K State Extension, Hansen Foundation and the Kansas Leadership Center regarding support for establishing sustainable leadership programs in these four counties. The first Community Builders class was held in Cheyenne County in 2007 and the last of four classes was held nine years ago in 2012. Close to 80 county residents participated in these classes. The original eight trainers have eithe
Hand Woven Textile Show at Quincy Street Gallery
If you are like me and love to see the symmetry of the very small then you will be delighted when you go into the Quincy Street Gallery. Every woven piece has a different woven pattern, each is perfect, whether it is one color or many, each piece is a mastery of intricate symmetry. Textiles must be seen close up and felt to be truly appreciated. Give your skin and your eyes a treat, a few hours just for them. They work hard for you, right? Check out the display from the Topeka Hand Weavers. Se
Written by Fred Wedel, Retired NRCS District Conservationist

What are cover crops? Cover crops are grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil. In Agriculture, cover crops are used to cover and protect the soil rather than to be harvested.

Cover crops are used to manage cropland and reduce soil erosion, improve soil fertility, improve soil quality, improve water storage, reduce pressure from weeds, pests and diseases, and improve biodiversity and wildlife in an agroecosystem.

Rangeland Fencing
Written By Fred Wedel, retired NRCS District Conservationist
Photos By Cale Rieger, NRCS Natural Resource Specialist

Proper fence is needed for grazing livestock in a rotational grazing system. As mentioned before, a rest-rotation grazing system is essential for properly managing grazing systems in the western Kansas area of short grass and mid-grass prairie.

Many perimeter fences are 3 or 4 strands of barbed wire. Interior cross-fences are usually a single smooth wire. The interior fe