Consider these conscious companies when shopping for herbal ingredients.
Many of us like to take our health into our own hands and create our own herbal remedies such as tinctures, teas, salves, and oils. Of course, growing our own herbs is the absolute best way to get the freshest possible ingredients. But there are many reasons we might not be able to supply all of our own medicinal herbs, and that’s when we turn to bulk herb suppliers. When it comes to making medicinal products, though, it’s more important than ever that the herbs we source are high-quality, grown organically and harvested and handled by experts who know how to best maximize and retain the plants’ medicinal qualities.
The following Editors’ Picks are some of our very favorite suppliers of high-quality herbs grown, processed and distributed in conscientious ways. They all showcase a dedication to superior quality, whether growing their own herbs or developing long-standing relationships with trusted small farmers. In addition, these companies make it obvious that they value the people who work for them through innovative corporate policies. And they value their customers, too, answering every question promptly via phone, email or Facebook.
Founded in 1976, Frontier Co-op is headquartered on 56 acres just outside Norway, Iowa, where its 145,000-square-foot facility houses its bulk herbs, seasonings, and spices. Owned by its 40,000 active co-op member-owners, Frontier Co-op offers a full line of natural and organic products, including bulk herbs and spices in addition to culinary spices, organic aromatherapy products and more. Frontier Co-op’s goal is to provide its customers with the highest quality organic and natural products while supporting and promoting social and environmental responsibility.
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Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: Frontier was one of the first suppliers to actively advocate organic products and agriculture, carrying its first organic products in 1978 and becoming the first herb and spice manufacturer in the U.S. with certified organic processing. Frontier Co-op also offers farmers fair prices, dealing directly with growers whenever possible. Frontier’s comprehensive sustainable sourcing program, Well Earth, promotes the sustainable production of natural and organic products and creates partnerships built upon a mutual respect for quality botanicals and sound social and environmental principles. The Well Earth program is built on the sourcing expertise Frontier Co-op has gained in more than three decades of experience buying botanicals and meeting personally with growers all over the world. Frontier says, “The Well Earth program is good for our suppliers, their communities, the environment, our co-op and our customers.” Through this program, Frontier helps bring more organic, sustainable and ethically sourced products to the natural foods market, giving consumers the opportunity to use purchases to influence the way the world does business.
Responsibility: Frontier Co-op is committed to sustainability in the storage, processing, packaging and shipping of its products. Its operations practice water conservation; offset 100 percent of power use with renewable energy credits; recycle as much waste as possible; and offset the carbon generated from shipping. Frontier Co-op’s mission is “Nourish people and the planet. Always be fair.” To this end, Frontier Co-op donates 4 percent of its pre-tax sales to support sustainability and community development programs and to promote organic agriculture research, education, and practices in communities across the globe—this standard ranks Frontier among the top companies in the nation for yearly social giving as a percent of sales. Some of Frontier Co-op’s many causes include the Frontier Co-op Foundation, which supports social, educational and environmental causes; the Simply Organic 1% Fund, which supports organic agriculture through research, education and grower development; and the Aura Cacia Positive Change Project, which supports organizations that empower women to transform their lives. Through the Well Earth program, Frontier helps improve the communities where its farmers and growers live. In one recent example, Well Earth worked with its partners to bring expanded dental care services to 41 co-ops of farmers in the mountains around Coban, Guatemala, serving nearly 25,000 people.
Grants Pass, Oregon
Pacific Botanicals is dedicated to empowering people everywhere to experience the miracle of good health. For more than 37 years, Pacific Botanicals has been growing certified organic medicinal herbs. Pacific Botanicals’ farm in Oregon’s Applegate Valley employs organic growing methods and beyond, saving seed from its own plants suited to the microclimate where they grow, feeding the soil with organic nutrients, and harvesting herbs at the peak of health. For those herbs the company does not grow on its farm, it turns into its network of worldwide certified organic farms and suppliers who understand its stringent quality requirements. Pacific Botanicals has become a leader in organic medicinal herb production through a passionate and uncompromising dedication to quality.
Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: As leaders in the field of providing herbal alternatives to conventional pharmaceutical medicines, Pacific Botanicals believes it must start with the finest chemical-free ingredients possible. The company views its farm, people, and processes not as a factory but rather as a living whole system. Recognizing that organic production integrates social, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity, the Pacific Botanicals farm has many interwoven components—from the seeds to the soil, from the climate to the workers. Each piece of the farming process contributes to making something greater than the sum of its parts.
Responsibility: Pacific Botanicals is a good steward of the earth. Sustainability is the foundation of organic agriculture, and at Pacific Botanicals that means cooperating with the natural renewing and sustaining the power of the earth. The company works to build up its soil and protect its watershed. Its rigorous recycle/reuse program includes everything from recycling the bags in which herbs are received and composting earth-friendly paper towels to purchasing and adapting used equipment for farming and reusing cardboard boxes to ship out orders. The farm also has a 27 kW solar-electric system that supplies about 35 percent of the total electricity used to power its dryers, pumps, processing equipment and the owner’s personal residence.
Founded in 1994 by a husband-and-wife team, Oregon’s Wild Harvest is a whole plant herbal supplement company headquartered in Redmond, Oregon. In harmony with its team of more than 40 farmers, scientists and quality assurance experts, Oregon’s Wild Harvest is dedicated to nurturing good, healthy soil and clean water and saving and replanting its non-GMO seeds on its three farms strategically located in distinct growing zones. With the well-being and care of its customers at heart, the company is committed to growing and procuring only the very highest-quality fresh, whole herbs, which are tested for optimum potency and prepared in small batches.
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Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: Oregon’s Wild Harvest offers 80 varieties of dried herbs and spices in whole, cut and sifted, and freshly milled powdered form. The company’s extensive assortment of bulk herbs is the same premium plant material that goes into all of its finished herbal products sold in natural foods stores around the country and online. All of its bulk herbs go through the same rigorous, in-house quality testing process as its bottled products to verify identity, purity, and potency. Oregon’s Wild Harvest grows many herbs on its certified organic and biodynamic farms. The company also sources from a community of trusted suppliers. Each bulk pouch has a lot number and date for identification and traceability. Herbs are stored in a temperature-controlled room, out of direct light and in the whole form, prior to processing. Each bulk bag is hand-filled to ensure the herbs remain in the whole form as much as possible to minimize essential oil loss. Oregon’s Wild Harvest’s hands-on, closed-loop approach gives the company maximum control over the identity, quality, potency and safety of all of its ingredients and the process itself every step of the way.
Responsibility: Oregon’s Wild Harvest says running an organic herb company requires land, energy, family, farmers, scientists, great partners and a lot of passion. Through its daily practices and operational decisions, Oregon’s Wild Harvest is dedicated to minimizing its impact on the planet. The responsibility starts with the company’s farms, which are dedicated to 100 percent non-GMO organic seed-saving and use Demeter Certified Biodynamic farming practices. The farms are also certified USDA Organic by Oregon Tilth and certified by Salmon-Safe, a nonprofit working to keep urban and agricultural watersheds clean enough for native salmon to spawn and thrive. More than 10 percent of the farm habitat is dedicated to pollinators. Oregon’s Wild Harvest sources the plants it doesn’t grow from growers and wildcrafters with the same high standards employed on the farm. The company also operates a resource-conscious production facility, purchasing carbon offsets via Clean Wind Green Tag, amounting to the equivalent of planting more than 5,400 trees each year. The office and manufacturing plant use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and recycle 100 percent of all plastic, glass, cardboard and paper.
Mountain Rose Herbs offers an enormous selection of organic and fair-trade certified herbs, spices and seasoning blends from culinary traditions around the world. All products are fresh and potent thanks to the company’s dedication to supporting suppliers who use skillful growing, harvesting and drying practices.
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Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: Since 1987, Mountain Rose Herbs has been growing and offering high-quality certified organic herbs, teas and spices. Herbalist-owned and operated, the staff at Mountain Rose understands the importance of sourcing the most vibrant plants harvested at peak potency, dried and processed with expert care for making medicinal teas, tinctures, salves, infused oils and other medicinal preparations. Mountain Rose Herbs has built long-standing relationships with family farms in the Pacific Northwest, Appalachia and abroad to grow fair trade, organic crops that help sustain agricultural livelihoods around the world, as well as natural healing traditions. The company has an on-site Quality Control laboratory to analyze plant identity, test for macroscopic and microbial contaminants, and screen for heavy metals.
Responsibility: Not only is Mountain Rose a zero-waste company, Fair Trade Certified, solar-powered and the founder of a river restoration project, the company is also blazing trails to support medicinal plant conservation. Mountain Rose’s mission to preserve wild places and promote organic agriculture led the company to partner with the nonprofit United Plant Savers in support of the Forest Grown Program. This initiative fosters cultivation of native medicinal woodland crops in Appalachia, using third-party verification and organic certification to guarantee forest products most at risk of poaching—such as American ginseng—are grown and harvested in a sustainable and legal manner. The company is committed to its community and sponsors more than 30 educational events focused on herbal medicine and sustainable living, as well as 35 environmental nonprofit organizations each year.