Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Herb Quality

So as many of you know, I am working hard to create a patchwork of small family farms, homesteaders, and gardens in Ohio to get herbs from (for my remedies as well as the bulk bins).

Sourcing locally (for what can grow here) is superior to buying from Frontier, Mountain Rose, or Starwest (the big 3 national distributors of bulk herbs) in many ways:

Marshmallow Root I
bought from a national
distributor before I found
a local source.
1. Potency: Herbs that are picked and processed within 24 hours mean a more potent product for the end user. I make higher quality teas, tinctures, and remedies because my herbs are sourced locally. When I process them, I also leave much bigger (and therefore more potent) pieces than nationally distributed "retail ready" herbs.

2. Cost: Ohio is rich (in botanicals, that is)! So many things grow here easily and and can be cultivated without struggle. Likewise, so many potent medicinals are native to the area: Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Wild Ginger, White Ginseng. If I can work with local folks to cultivate and wild harvest sustainably*, we will have a steady supply that will cost less than the herbs available elsewhere. I intend on cultivating my own eventually, as well.

3. Economy: The local economy benefits when we spend our money locally- I carry locally made products over national conglomerate ones when I can find a source. I source from Ohio farms and homesteaders to support them in their endeavor, and they supply me to support mine. I carry local lotions instead of nationally distributed ones. Not only are the local ones better for you, they aren't made in China! Think you are buying a natural, safe product when you buy Burt's Bees**? Think again.

A close up of that
Marshmallow root.
Did you know that spending $100 locally puts $68 back into the local economy, but shopping at a big box or chain only puts $43 back (and shopping online puts $0 back)?

4. Fossil Fuel Dependency: When you get your inventory from national distributors, you are feeding into a fossil fuel dependent economy and having to get your stock shipped to you from another state (not to mention that they had their inventory shipped to them from another state or country to begin with!) I would venture to guess that the Goldenseal I got from Mountain Rose came from Ohio in the first place- so it was shipped from Ohio to Oregon and back again. Doesn't make much sense, does it?

5. Bioregional Herbalism: I am a firm believer that what we need for tonics and remedies are right underfoot. There are many herbs growing wild and abundantly here in Ohio that many people are not using, because they know about a more popular one. So I am carefully bringing in locally sourced herbs that may not be popular (yet) and educating people about choices.

Locally sourced
Marshmallow root.
See the large pieces?
6. Teaching: I have 13 herbal students who are learning all about Western herbalism and materia medica- and what better way than hands-on? Handling the plants in all the stages of its life and during medicine making makes a better trained herbalist. My students have made infusions, decoctions, strained tinctures, and help to dry the plants as they come in fresh in just the two months they have been studying so far.

In short, I am really excited about the possibilities for a bioregional apothecary and what we can accomplish here in Columbus. If you would like to be a part of it, come by for a class or pick up some locally sourced remedies, body care, or botanicals!

Nationally sourced
Red Clover. Small
pieces, shredded.
Locally sourced Red Clover.
Large intact
Locally sourced Raspberry
leaf. Big potent chunks!

*I only carry herbs cultivated using organic methods or wildcrafted using sustainable practices.

**Burt's Bees is a national company, owned by Clorox and its products are made in China. Some of their products have been randomly tested and found to contain unsafe and dangerous things in them.

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