If your food is your medicine and medicine your food…what do you want to put into your body?
Trade routes for herbs and spices have been crisscrossing the surface of the earth for millennia, but in these days of easy procurement, few folks bother to scrutinize the map to learn about the origins of their herbs. Scientific investigations are beginning to look at the sources of our herbal medicine, with some troubling results.
Concerns about cultivation in relation to safety are increasingly coming into public consciousness. Systematic research, such as the 2008 coverage by the Journal of the American Medical Association of arsenic, lead, and mercury in some herbal Ayurvedic blends, has increased and similar studies are beginning to highlight the consequences of blissful ignorance.
It is not just importations that are raising questions about herb and vegetable safety; the 2011 report in the Chicago Tribune on the USDA’s discovery of over 30 types of unapproved residual pesticides on fresh cilantro was a wake-up call.
How can you be sure that the health-promoting herbs you are putting into your body are truly healthy?
- Ask questions about how and where your herbs were grown.
- Be aware of the current dialogues about sustainability and “organic” terminology.
- Support local growers who choose sustainable practices.
The next time you reach for your chamomile or your thyme, pause for a moment to consider the herb’s origins and the impact on both your body and the body of the earth. Try growing your favorite herb from organic seeds in a pot at home. And ask your local herb providers if they know where their product comes from and how it was produced.
Herbiary labels all of its herbs with their source of origin and whether they are certified organic or wild-harvested.