Turmeric is part of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. Originally from South America, it needs a tropical climate to thrive. Turmeric is collected and sought after for its rhizomes, which are then boiled for several hours and dried out in hot ovens. When they have been completely dried out they are ground down into the powder form, which is the type of turmeric you're most likely to find on grocery shelves.
Turmeric is used as a spice in many Asian and Middle Eastern Cuisines. It also known to have medicinal properties and is used as an antibacterial agent. Turmeric is available to buy in powder form at most grocery stores, and is commonly stored in jars in the section for herbs and spices or in the ethnic food aisle. In medicinal form, turmeric supplements are also available to buy. These are regularly available from health food stores and from the health supplement section of most drugstores. It can be used in this form to help digestive problems and has also been known to reduce I.B.S symptoms for people who suffer from this condition.
As turmeric is a natural extract, it is available without prescription over the counter. Another place to buy turmeric, and for a slightly different use, is from health and beauty stores. This is because turmeric is renowned for alleviating skin problems such as acne and is also used widely in cosmetics. It can be found as an extract in some skin cleansers, and is also used as an ingredient in suntan lotions due to its antibacterial qualities.
If you want turmeric for use in recipes, look for a powder with a bright marigold or orange-yellow color. Most prepackaged turmeric is fresh enough for most recipes, but if you are lucky enough to have a spice shop in your city where you can purchase an even fresher product it's definitely worth the trip. Select turmeric with a strong scent, which doesn't clump together or exhibit any signs of mold or dustiness. The color should be fairly bright (although this varies) and not faded. When you bring it home, don't store it in direct sunlight - this is definitely a spice that will last longer if it's sealed up and set in a cool, dry pantry.
As well as being easily available in drugstores, grocery chains and health beauty products, turmeric can also be easily purchased on the internet. In today's technological age, many retail outlets do an equal amount of their business online and many people find it easier to buy their products this rather than hunt through stores. A large percentage of these online retailers will also offer to ship worldwide in a matter of days. As long as the store you are buying from has been properly researched and is a known, legitimate business, this is a sensible option for many to take. With import and export of goods improving every day making more things readily available, buying turmeric has never been easier. Whatever you need it for, whether it is as a cosmetic, a food ingredient or for medicinal purposes, it is something you can purchase cheaply and easily and without too much hunting around.