At PASA conference in State College. Great presentation by Eric Burkhardt of Shaver’s Creek Environmental center about the biology, economics, and possibilities for wild-harvested Appalachian plants. Lots of plants are harvested will-nilly and with no good oversight or sustainable practices. For example, golden seal (Hydrastis Canadensis), is used widely as an alternative medicine. But the people who collect don’t really know when to collect it to maximize the beneficial chemicals. At the same time, its best use seems to be as a topical antibiotic, but manufacturers don’t sell it that way, necessarily.
Ginseng is a wild, wild market where super-high prices driven by Asian markets lead to rampant theft and a massive over-harvesting in Appalachia.
In a twisted irony, many of the thiefs (who might be able to get $1,000 worth of ginseng in an hour of digging) looking for this root that can improve overall well-being (its an adaptogen) are themselves driven by their won twisted opiate addictions. And, even when someone is using forest to cultivate wild ginseng catches these malicious though tortured souls, local authorities don’t prosecute it because it’s just a weed or they don’t know what ginseng looks like. Imagine if a thief took a bushel of apples or a pasture-raised chicken and there were no charges even once you caught them!