Barbara Intermill, On Nutrition: Shades of lavender

This may be my favorite time on the ranch. Mother cows are happily nursing their newborns in pastures finally green after much-needed rain. Branding and spring vaccinations are behind us. And ranch duties have slowed down — at least for a couple of weeks.

I’d say it’s a perfect time to visit my daughter in New Mexico. It’s her birthday, I’m a native New Mexican and she works at one of New Mexico’s treasured properties — Los Poblanos Historic Inn and organic lavender farm in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley in Albuquerque.

For those of us who love the scent and beauty of lavender, this place is magical. I met Wes, director of horticulture at “the farm” and asked his advice on growing lavender.

“Lavender needs three things,” he said. “Bad soil (as in sandy, well-drained), plenty of sun and not too much water. And if it dies,” he adds, “it’s not your fault. Lavender is finicky.”

Sounds like my kind of plant.

Some studies show that lavender oil products taken orally may be beneficial for calming anxiety, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. But because the research is limited, no definite conclusions about its effectiveness have been reached.

Still, we found plenty of reasons to enjoy this lovely plant and its extracts during our stay. We sipped lavender tea and spa technicians used its oil to calm our spirits during spa treatments. And our elegant adobe-style room was stocked with lavender-infused body wash and lotion. I later learned that the word lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, meaning “to wash.”

As we toured the grounds before dinner, we definitely did not discount the botanical effect we experienced after sampling Lavender 99 — the farm’s signature cocktail, named for the year when owner Armin Rembe planted his first lavender crop. (His wife, Penny, still lives on the property.)

The next morning, we sipped lavender lattes while surveying the array of products in the company’s farm store. And while I haven’t found specific health benefits ascribed to lavender-infused coffee, there is good evidence that moderate coffee drinkers are less likely to die from any cause compared with people who do not drink coffee.

I would not recommend, however, to bring home a bottle of lavender oil in your carry-on suitcase. After frisking and questioning me about what was in my bag, the thorough TSA agent in Albuquerque informed me I would need to take my bag all the way back to check-in.

Two security screens later, I made my flight home, lavender secured, and not without serene memories of an incredible experience. Thank you, Miss Penny, Kim and Sarah for an unforgettable farm-to-table experience at LP!

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and syndicated columnist. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating.” Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.

Contributed by local news sources

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