I don’t know the exact moment when I began to question, well, not everything, but a lot about what we buy and put in or on our bodies.
It may have its earliest beginnings way back, before some of you readers can remember, to the Tylenol debacle.
For those of you who are too young to recall, I’m referring to the big product contamination tragedy in 1982. Seven people were killed when they took pain medicine that had been laced with cyanide.
Before Tylenol, tamper-proof and tamper-evident packaging was pretty much unused. There was child-proofing, but that was different. You could go into the store and open stuff up and do whatever you wanted to with it and put it right back on the shelf. It was an innocent age in that regard.
After, things changed a lot. Now everything is shrink-wrapped and double-sealed and printed with dire warnings. Hopefully more casualties have been prevented than caused by tamper-proof packaging (you know there have got to be a few of those over the last 30 years), but other issues have been raised. What about factory contamination? What about product strength and quality? What about truth in testing and safety controls before a product reaches the store shelves?
It makes you want to make everything yourself. From stuff you’ve grown in your yard. After you’ve verified your house wasn’t built on top of a toxic waste dump. Ha.
This sounds paranoid, certainly, but it comes closer to the truth than I’d like. The recent fears over anything Made in China (and what isn’t?) have added to the anxiety.
If you’ve ever stood in the herbal supplement aisle and looked at the rows and rows of neatly (and tamper-proof) packaged bottles of pills and wondered if there was anything therapeutic in there, you’re not alone. I’m not a big supplement-taker, but I have started growing a few medicinal plants. Although I haven’t used them yet, they’re fun to have and I feel more self-sufficient just having them around. And for some things, like the ginseng I’ve started, since it takes several years to reach harvest stage, it makes sense to grow it before you need it.
I’m loving the book The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm. The author, Peg Schafer, operates a medicinal herb farm in Petaluma, California. The book is part how-to, with extensive information on the cultivation and use of dozens of Chinese traditional medicinals, and part why, discussing the issues of why domestic agricultural production of these herbs is important.
It’s an important resource both for home growers of a few medicinal herbs, and for anyone thinking about growing medicinals for sale.
Expect to be surprised often. I was, when I read how honeysuckle blossoms are dried and used for tea, and how garlic chives and dogwood trees and cockscomb are used medicinally. I had a medicinal garden even before I planted one, and didn’t know it.
We want to give away a couple copies of this book. You’re going to love it. It has inspired me to expand my medicinal collection and alerted me to the medicinal garden right under my nose. Check out the Little House in the Suburbs readers page over at the publisher, Chelsea Green, to sign up for a chance to win a copy.