Herbs offer nourishing, varied flavors in recipes,
brew a soothing cup of tea, and add nutrients and glorious scents
to some favorite natural beauty products. What’s more, many
of us turn to healing plants in concentrated, supplemental form
to help support or regain optimal health.
Peace of Mind
who are interested in the haling properties of herbs, especially,
have an investment in their purity and quality. “It’s
ironic that people taking herbal supplements for health may be
unaware that herb could have grown next to a highway or undergone
chemical processing,” says Paul Schulick, founder and CEO
at New chapter. If contaminants are present in a fresh herb, these
toxins may be increasingly concentrated as the herb is processed.
good news? According to Sidney Sudberg, DC, Lac, RH (AHG), “Many
tests ensure identity, purity, quality, strength, and composition
of the herb, which helps maintain the safety of what enters the
marketplace.” For some, the organic seal offers additional
peace of mind. Standards for organic herbs are the same as for
all organic agricultural products: Organic certification allows
no toxic and persistent pesticides or herbicides in farming- ensuring
fewer unwanted chemicals in the final product. It also supports
a healthy ecosystem and work environment back on the farm.
Irradiation, a process that uses radioactive
gamma rays to kill certain bacteria and pathogens, is an alternative
to fumigation on most conventional spices, herbs, and seasonings
since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved this technique
in 1986. “No reliable, long-term studies have been done
on the dangers of ingesting irradiated foods,” says Kathy
Larson, Vice President of corporate social responsibility at Frontier.
“Both workers in irradiation facilities and the people and
animals in nearby communities are at risk of being exposed through
Organic standards prohibit irradiation. Alternative
methods of quality-and safety-control include heat and ozone treatments.
Irradiation is not only banned for herbs grown, harvested, and
shipped in accordance with organic standard, its effects may not
“Many (herbs) produce oils that keep insects
at bay; in fact, some are themselves used as insect repellents,”
explains Luddene Perry, author of “A Field Guide to Buying
Organic. Botanicals’ own natural defenses help them thrive
under organic cultivation.
Cost and Benefits
Is the effort and expense worth it for people
who grow and process herbs organically? Holly givens, communications
director at the Organic Trade Association, points out that not
using toxic substances benefits farmers, their families, and communities-both
in the U.S. and in developing countries. Organic production also
Frontier’s Larson concurs. Growing herbs
organically “helps prevent soil erosion, saves the energy
it takes to produce synthetic fertilizers, and helps keep the
carcinogens found in most herbicides and pesticides out of our
water systems and the food we eat. The world’s demand for
products is met without compromising the earth for future generations.