Sifting Herbs in Morocco. Photo by: Chris Kilham

Ethical Trade
Uigur man with bread

“In other parts of the world where I go, people are worried about, "Jeez, you know, I really wanted to buy my kids shoes this year." For them it's not, "Darn, I wanted to get that extra suit at Brooks Brothers." It's, "Darn, I wanted to be able to eat at least two meals today." - Chris Kilham, The Jim Lehrer News Hour

If the end user of a medicinal plant product gets relief from symptoms, but the environment is harmed in the trade of that plant and the people who work in the field live in poverty, there is no holistic healing taking place. Real healing means that the whole system thrives. Ethical trade means engaging in commerce in ways that improve the lives of people in the field. It involves increased wages and sharing in the benefits of success.

Half of the people in the world live on less than $2 dollars per day. Over one billion people live on less than $1 dollar per day. Many of these people work in agriculture, helping to grow and provide the foods, spices and medicines we use to sustain ourselves. It is completely unconscionable to profit from agricultural trade, including medicinal plants, while the people who do the hardest work in the fields live in poverty.

Every time you buy an herb or spice, somebody somewhere sat and sifted an cleaned that spice by hand. Whether you purchase a neat little bottle of black peppercorns, or a bag of cinnamon, or some mint tea, somebody sat and cleaned it by hand. The amount of work that goes into providing clean herbs and spices is immense.

Helping to improve the wages of people who work on the field side of medicinal plants is a process. Often you can increase the market price of a certain plant by multiples, and barely affect the price of finished products at all. But this can mean that a family will eat better, will be able to afford clothing and other necessities. At Medicine Hunter, we help to raise wages for people in the field. We promote and help to implement benefit-sharing projects, from improving schools to enhancing health care for poor communities. There are literally thousands of things you can do to make a positive difference. Over time we will share more on this topic.

“For a product to really be sustainable, it’s really got to deliver the goods for the end user. That drives the whole rest of the equation. So if you have gingko that’s properly extracted, people feel a sharpening of mind. Or you have superior kava extract that really does relax you in a beautiful way. These herbal successes help build the foundation for all this other stuff, for sustainable programs for improving wages, improving environmental practices. It’s all driven by results that people get with herbs.” - Chris Kilham, Yogi Times