Is Garlic a Vegetable or an Herb?
When discussing the proper classification of, many people are quick to label it as an or , since it is typically added to other to add flavor or boost the value of a dish. Garlic is rarely eaten on its own, which is what many people use as a common classification for a .
It is important to remember that garlic grows underground in the form of bulbs, similar to onions and shallots. This tends to give it more credibility as a vegetable than an herb or a spice. An herb, by definition, is something green, and typically includes stems and leaves. A garlic bulb doesn’t really fit that description. Similarly, a spice is a part of the plant that is dried and used for flavoring and typically comes from the , or seeds, among others. Again, this doesn’t accurately describe the garlic bulb.
Garlic defies classification, similar to other vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, , and , among others. For all intents and purposes, garlic is classified as a vegetable, but people around the world will undoubtedly continue to debate this question. The way that a food is referenced or thought of culturally is almost as important as the botanical or horticultural classification it receives. Garlic is a perfect example of this flexibility in the language we use for the food we eat!