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Agri & Gardening into the wild  the plants hiding in your kitchen | Newsletter General

Into The Wild: The Plants Hiding In Your Kitchen

by: Sharai Hoekema
into the wild  the plants hiding in your kitchen | Newsletter

The market for medicinal plants and herbal remedies has exploded since the rise of COVID-19 earlier this year. You could say that this is bad news for wild plants, some of which are already looking at potential extinction from over-harvesting. As the demand grows, they are quite literally plucked from the wild and traded - sometimes even illegally - between countries.

Into The Wild: The Plants Hiding In Your Kitchen

This is something that you should be concerned about. Just knowing that these at-risk species continue to be imported and exported is one thing, but finding out that they might already be hiding in your pantry is a whole different thing. Welcome to the world of illegal plant harvesting.

people, plants, herbs
Photo by ANSB-min. Mugu Community Forest User Group Members Boundary Survey and resource inventory Nepal.

Recommended: Best Sustainable Autumn Life: Exercise, Food, Lifestyle

Popularity Of Wild-Harvested Plants

The wild-harvested plants in question are wanted for several reasons. They get mixed into herbal medicines or herbal teas; or find themselves being used for aromatherapy oils, liquor, and beauty products. So, mostly luxury products, for which people are willing to put down quite a bit of money. The primary issue is that they do not know how damaging those very same products could be for the environment.

Even the producing companies themselves might be in the dark about the origins of their ‘specially sourced’ ingredients. They might not even know that there are ‘wild plants’ in their supply chain.

Recommended: Sustainable Food And Exercise: Get Healthier

Sustainability Loses Against Health And Beauty

For some other products, the ingredients are less obscure. In China, for instance, several medicine formulas have been developed as a “treatment” for COVID-19. While it is still unclear if these do what they are promising to do, they are responsible for including up to 151(!) plant ingredients - including liquorice root, or glycyrrhiza spp, which is a protected species in China - yet still harvested from the wild.

It just goes to show how deep-rooted the problem is, no pun intended. Sustainability seems to be out of the question when it comes to our health or beauty. This is not to say that we should not harvest those wild plants, but instead that we should consider how to do it right.

This is where local harvesters come in, who might be invaluable in this chain. They are often part of indigenous communities, with excellent knowledge of and a wealth of skills in harvesting sustainably, in a manner that maintains or even improves the local plant population. Too often, they are still overlooked. That is not what we want.

hand, plant

Recommended: Food From Nature: Is It Healthy And Good For The Environment

Into The Wild: The Plant As Income

For those people, the harvest of those wild plants could also be their primary source of income. Communities and local economies can potentially thrive if there is just one plant that shows great promise in the medical or beauty fields. Look at the devil’s claw, for instance. It is used to treat arthritis. But it also treats poverty in Namibia, where some 3,000 to 5,000 people live off its harvest. In the mountains of Nepal, up to 58% of the total annual household income can be attributed to the commercial harvesting of herbs.

Plants can be a primary source of income. But it all depends on the circumstances. Illegal harvesting can destroy plant populations, damaging future economic prosperity with it. This is why international trade of those medicinal or aromatic plants is strictly regulated, while national governments oftentimes step in to impose strict guidelines on harvesting or trading certain species. This all sounds great in theory, as it will prevent over-harvesting and unsustainable practices, but the reality is that these measures are tough to enforce.

Recommended: Sustainable Fashion: Fungi, Roots Slow Fashion

The Customs Officials Have No Real Clue

Wild plants, for instance, are hard to identify - in particular when traded in a semi-processed form. When presented with a bag of leaves, powder, or wax, customs officials might find themselves at a loss. It is not as easy as animals or large timber logs, but it may require quite a lot of skill and knowledge of the plants at hand.

Unfortunately, the countries who rely the heaviest on their plant resources for income are oftentimes low and thus underfunding their trade monitoring programs. They do not have the workforce or money to enforce the sustainability guidelines required. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that up to a quarter of all illegal trade items entering the European Union are made up of plant and animal parts and products, as meant for medicinal or aromatic use. It is a real problem that governments are still not sure of the exact guidelines and requirements, and thus not stepping in this trading scheme.

FairWild As A Reliable Certification

Companies can step up and take their responsibility by ensuring a sustainable supply chain of their own. One way of doing this is with the FairWild certification, which lets customers know that the wild plant ingredients are sourced through sustainable harvesting practices and a fair sharing of resources. It is, as such, very similar to the FairTrade or Rainforest Alliance certifications.

FairWild is doing precisely what its name promises you: it gives you a fair wild product. This way, you know for sure that your product containing wild plant species was harvested sustainably. It promotes sustainable living and helps you to make an informed choice.

It might mean some more work for companies, but, as the CEO of an already accredited company so adequately put it, “Companies have got to invest the time and the money to know where their ingredients come from, to know how the people that are collecting them are treated and paid, and to know the impact that harvesting those ingredients is having on the indigenous population of plants, as well as other plants that might get trampled along the way.”

Recommended: CO2 Footprint Food: It Is What You Eat Not If It Is Local

Into The Wild Dozen List

You, as a consumer, could also do your part. 12 so-called flagship species are probably somewhere in your pantry as well. While some of those are already in the safe zone, thanks to the sustainable practices becoming commonplace in their industries, others are still in need of rescuing.

These species include:

Baobab Fruit, red soil
Photo by Ton Rulkens. Baobab fruit.

  1. Frankincense resin and oil (Boswellia spp.)
  2. Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa)
  3. Jatamansi/Spikenard oil (Nardostachys jatamansi)
  4. Gum arabic resin or E414 (Acacia spp.)
  5. Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis)
  6. Candelilla wax (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)
  7. Pygeum bark (Prunus africana)
  8. Argan oil (Argania spinosa)
  9. Baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata)
  10. Devil’s claw root (Harpagophytum procumbens)
  11. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza spp.)
  12. Juniper (Juniperus communis)

Baobab Tree and elephant
Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata)

You could investigate whether those species are incorporated in products that you use and consider if it is worth it to you. Companies working with those products should actively review their supply chain and continue to test for sustainability. You might as well give them the motivation they need to do so.

Before you go!

Recommended: Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
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Breaking News, as the world changes…

In our world, WhatsOrb refuses to turn away from the changes in our society and environment which succeeds each other at a rapid pace.

For WhatsOrb, publishing on the environment is a priority. We give reporting on climate, nature, waste, lifestyle and sustainable solutions the prominence it deserves.

At this turbulent time for ‘all’ species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on facts, not on political prejudice or business interests.

WhatsOrb Breaking News will be published as soon as urgent events from around the world and startling sustainable innovations reach us.

If there is anything we should know and publish about, please send a note to: [email protected] or write your own story on: www.whatsorb.comthe only news site which gives you a ‘sustainable voice!’

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Into The Wild: The Plants Hiding In Your Kitchen

The market for medicinal plants and herbal remedies has exploded since the rise of COVID-19 earlier this year. You could say that this is bad news for wild plants, some of which are already looking at potential extinction from over-harvesting. As the demand grows, they are quite literally plucked from the wild and traded - sometimes even illegally - between countries. Into The Wild: The Plants Hiding In Your Kitchen This is something that you should be concerned about. Just knowing that these at-risk species continue to be imported and exported is one thing, but finding out that they might already be hiding in your pantry is a whole different thing. Welcome to the world of illegal plant harvesting. Photo by ANSB-min. Mugu Community Forest User Group Members Boundary Survey and resource inventory Nepal. Recommended:  Best Sustainable Autumn Life: Exercise, Food, Lifestyle Popularity Of Wild-Harvested Plants The wild-harvested plants in question are wanted for several reasons. They get mixed into herbal medicines or herbal teas; or find themselves being used for aromatherapy oils, liquor, and beauty products. So, mostly luxury products, for which people are willing to put down quite a bit of money. The primary issue is that they do not know how damaging those very same products could be for the environment. Even the producing companies themselves might be in the dark about the origins of their ‘specially sourced’ ingredients. They might not even know that there are ‘wild plants’ in their supply chain. Recommended:  Sustainable Food And Exercise: Get Healthier Sustainability Loses Against Health And Beauty For some other products, the ingredients are less obscure. In China, for instance, several medicine formulas have been developed as a “treatment” for COVID-19. While it is still unclear if these do what they are promising to do, they are responsible for including up to 151(!) plant ingredients - including liquorice root, or glycyrrhiza spp, which is a protected species in China - yet still harvested from the wild. It just goes to show how deep-rooted the problem is, no pun intended. Sustainability seems to be out of the question when it comes to our health or beauty. This is not to say that we should not harvest those wild plants, but instead that we should consider how to do it right. This is where local harvesters come in, who might be invaluable in this chain. They are often part of indigenous communities, with excellent knowledge of and a wealth of skills in harvesting sustainably, in a manner that maintains or even improves the local plant population. Too often, they are still overlooked. That is not what we want. Recommended:  Food From Nature: Is It Healthy And Good For The Environment Into The Wild: The Plant As Income For those people, the harvest of those wild plants could also be their primary source of income. Communities and local economies can potentially thrive if there is just one plant that shows great promise in the medical or beauty fields. Look at the devil’s claw, for instance. It is used to treat arthritis. But it also treats poverty in Namibia, where some 3,000 to 5,000 people live off its harvest. In the mountains of Nepal, up to 58% of the total annual household income can be attributed to the commercial harvesting of herbs. Plants can be a primary source of income. But it all depends on the circumstances. Illegal harvesting can destroy plant populations, damaging future economic prosperity with it. This is why international trade of those medicinal or aromatic plants is strictly regulated, while national governments oftentimes step in to impose strict guidelines on harvesting or trading certain species. This all sounds great in theory, as it will prevent over-harvesting and unsustainable practices, but the reality is that these measures are tough to enforce. Recommended:  Sustainable Fashion: Fungi, Roots Slow Fashion The Customs Officials Have No Real Clue Wild plants, for instance, are hard to identify - in particular when traded in a semi-processed form. When presented with a bag of leaves, powder, or wax, customs officials might find themselves at a loss. It is not as easy as animals or large timber logs, but it may require quite a lot of skill and knowledge of the plants at hand. Unfortunately, the countries who rely the heaviest on their plant resources for income are oftentimes low and thus underfunding their trade monitoring programs. They do not have the workforce or money to enforce the sustainability guidelines required. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that up to a quarter of all illegal trade items entering the European Union are made up of plant and animal parts and products, as meant for medicinal or aromatic use. It is a real problem that governments are still not sure of the exact guidelines and requirements, and thus not stepping in this trading scheme. FairWild As A Reliable Certification Companies can step up and take their responsibility by ensuring a sustainable supply chain of their own. One way of doing this is with the FairWild certification, which lets customers know that the wild plant ingredients are sourced through sustainable harvesting practices and a fair sharing of resources. It is, as such, very similar to the FairTrade or Rainforest Alliance certifications. FairWild is doing precisely what its name promises you: it gives you a fair wild product. This way, you know for sure that your product containing wild plant species was harvested sustainably. It promotes sustainable living and helps you to make an informed choice. It might mean some more work for companies, but, as the CEO of an already accredited company so adequately put it, “ Companies have got to invest the time and the money to know where their ingredients come from, to know how the people that are collecting them are treated and paid, and to know the impact that harvesting those ingredients is having on the indigenous population of plants, as well as other plants that might get trampled along the way .” Recommended:  CO2 Footprint Food: It Is What You Eat Not If It Is Local Into The Wild Dozen List You, as a consumer, could also do your part. 12 so-called flagship species are probably somewhere in your pantry as well. While some of those are already in the safe zone, thanks to the sustainable practices becoming commonplace in their industries, others are still in need of rescuing. These species include: Photo by Ton Rulkens. Baobab fruit. Frankincense resin and oil (Boswellia spp.) Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) Jatamansi/Spikenard oil (Nardostachys jatamansi) Gum arabic resin or E414 (Acacia spp.) Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis) Candelilla wax (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) Pygeum bark (Prunus africana) Argan oil (Argania spinosa) Baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata) Devil’s claw root (Harpagophytum procumbens) Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza spp.) Juniper (Juniperus communis) Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) You could investigate whether those species are incorporated in products that you use and consider if it is worth it to you. Companies working with those products should actively review their supply chain and continue to test for sustainability. You might as well give them the motivation they need to do so. Before you go! Recommended:  Agrivoltaics Mutually Beneficial: Food, Water And Energy Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about herbs ? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations