How sustainable is the herb industry?

Many people are now purchasing herbs and herbal remedies for medicinal purposes. But do you know where these herbs come from?

Producing effective herbal medicine that is good for people and good for the environment involves taking steps to ensure that companies are not only in the business of producing herbal products but are also working to sustain livelihoods and the earth, according to The Sustainable Herbs Project.

The Business of Herbs, a short documentary clip from The Sustainable Herbs Project’s Numen film, examines the supply chain of herbs and shows how herbs are sometimes produced no differently from any other commodity on the market, with little care or nurture for the plants that are harvested.

The Sustainable Herbs Project, founded by herbalist Ann Armbrecht, follows herbs through the supply chain to educate consumers about quality, sustainability and fair trade in the botanical industry.

The Sustainable Herbs Project say: “Where plants come from and how they are handled along the way matters in the quality and efficacy of the finished product. If those processes are good – ‘good’ meaning people are paying attention each step of the way – the finished product will more likely be good. Especially with bulk herbs or herbal teas, the quality of the supply chain directly impacts the quality of the finished product.

“Details matter: whether workers have washed their hands, what lotion or insect repellent collectors used while collecting the raw materials, what the collection bags were previously used for, whether the plants were harvested in the rain or left in a pile in a tarp for a few days until workers had time to process them. Attention through the supply chain costs money.”

The Sustainable Herbs Project aims to create a movement that brings the same critical awareness to how herbal products are sourced and produced that the food movement has brought to the food industry.

The Sustainable Herbs Project

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. Follow Rosa on Twitter.

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