By Marilyn Zink
When most people think of organic products, they usually think about the food we eat.
While that’s important, it’s equally important, if not more important, to consider the use of organic herbs.
Why? The answer is simple. Herbs are used in so many ways; as flavouring in the foods we eat, in natural medicine, in skin care, cosmetics and shampoo and perhaps even in your bedding.
Going natural with your bedding is important because we spend more than one-third of our lives sleeping. This is particularly important for children whose skins are more susceptible to absorbing toxic ingredients and would probably really benefit from infant’s organic clothing.
Skin care and cosmetic products are even more likely to affect children with toxins. Organic herbs made from extracts such as chamomile, sage, balm, mint or linden blossom are particularly soothing to the skin and known for their nourishing value.
In 1993 the National Research Council found children are more susceptible to pesticide residues because they ingest more food per unit of body weight than adults and their immune systems aren’t fully capable of detoxifying these residues.
As the skin is the largest organ covering the body, children are also more susceptible to absorbing more toxins through their skin. Pesticides used since the 1940s are sprayed on plants such as herbs. These pesticide residues can remain on plants long after they are harvested, with the possibility of toxins in cancer-causing levels.
In addition, additives are found in nearly all non-organic foods as well as herbs to extend their shelf life. Studies have linked these additives to increased rates of heart disease, cancer, skin disease, allergic reactions, headaches, asthma, slow growth and hyper-activity in children.
So why take chances?
Purchasing products from farms that grow herbs organically means the consumer can be assured that they will be safe from toxic by-products.
These farmers often use liquid organic fertilizers made from fish by-products and compost such as chicken, sheep or rabbit manure which are richer in plant nutrients than cattle manure.
Growing tactics like these ensure the plants are stronger and healthier, so they are less likely to be weakened by disease or pests.
According to Wikipedia, “Organic horticulture involves natural processes, often occurring over extended periods of time, and a holistic approach, while chemical horticulture focuses on immediate, isolated effects and reductionist strategies.”
The resulting run-off from pesticide and chemical use contaminates lakes, streams, rivers and oceans, putting more pollutants into our environment.
In organic farming, no artificial chemicals or pesticides are used. Certified organic herbs are grown on a farm that has been inspected and soil samples are provided to prove the herbs are free of chemicals.
Research on the benefits of organic farming with herbs has been going on for many years. The most comprehensive organic herb trials were done by Rene Soberg of Soberg Farms in Minnnesota. This research was funded by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARC) grants. Reports showing details of Soberg’s success were published in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Greenbook in 1998 and 2000.
The Agriculture Marketing Service of USA reports that since 2004 more than 30% of culinary herbs sold in the U.S. are produced organically. It’s quite likely that since then that percentage has increased substantially.