Many practitioners choose herbal products based on their efficacy and safety. Equally important to many, are the farming practices herbal companies employ.
If you are one of those practitioners who prioritizes efficacy, safety, and sustainability, you’re in good company. Like us, you strive to vote with your dollar, so that you’re supporting the causes, practices, values and issues that are important to you.
Because herbal products are grown and harvested, processed and tested, and packaged and shipped, there are a host of economic, environmental, and social implications to consider when choosing an herbal supplier.
But let’s not overthink it! A simple question to ask any company (herbal or otherwise), could be:
Is your company contributing to a cycle of regeneration, or a cycle of destruction?
Sustainability is a subject – and a practice – that is close to our hearts. With that in mind, we’re eager to show you (with real examples) the 8 Ways We Preserve & Protect these precious herbal resources.
- The first of our 8 Ways We Preserve & Protect is our Sustainability Practices & Procedures.
It may seem obvious, but having a plan in place that outlines our goals and sustainability outcomes makes it more likely we’ll reach them.
The cornerstone of our Sustainability Practices & Procedures is a decades-long commitment to Dao Di farming principles.
These principles translate into the actions – both on and off the farm – that you’ll learn about next.
2. Healthy Seed Cultivation. The potency and biodiversity of our herbal extracts are due in large part to our partnerships in germplasm research and development.
What is germplasm? It’s the living genetic material (in this case, seeds and seedlings) maintained for the purposes of healthy plant breeding, conservation of biodiversity, and quality of genetic resources.
Two of Tianjiang's noteworthy achievements include:
- Cultivating seeds with greater disease resistance, variation resistance, and higher yield, through our work with the Institute of Medicinal Plants, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
- Breeding, and successfully cultivating virus-free Ju Hua (Chrysanthemum) and Dan Shen (Salviae Miltiorrhizae) in partnership with China Pharmaceutical University and Nanjing Agricultural University.
We’re proud that Tianjiang collaborates with these and other leading institutions to effectively raise the bar in herbal extract biodiversity.
3. Geoauthentic Farming (95% Dao Di). The majority of Treasure of the East herbs are grown at their primary source of origin. This is the overarching principle of Dao Di farming.
4. Sustainable Sourcing (5% procured). While we would prefer to source all herbs from their Dao Di regions, herbs from some of these regions are unable to meet our stringent standards for sustainability, water and soil quality, heavy-metal content, or concentrations of active chemical constituents.
In these cases, Tianjiang sources herbs directly from the farmers, rather than from the bulk herb market.
Because we only source farmer-direct, we are able to obtain certification from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) confirming the herbs come from sustainable sources.
5. Regenerative Harvesting. Tianjiang's harvesting methods are designed to promote the effective production and protection of herbal materials.
These methods include:
- Collecting the plant at the optimal time in its growing period.
- Avoid harvesting during the breeding period of plants.
- Harvesting while cultivating.
- Harvesting mature plants while maintaining growth cycles.
- Harvesting in steps, and in different seasons.
- Rotating crops to support plant regeneration.
The result is a virtuous cycle of resources. Our goal is to leave the post-harvest land in better condition than when we started planting, with nutrient-rich soil that supports, and even strengthens, the next planting.
To better understand virtuous and vicious cycles, we recommend this excellent article by Pesticide Action Network which explores the ramifications of linear versus circular approaches to farming.
6.Wild Harvesting. Increased demand for Chinese herbs – while an indication that more of the population is seeking natural remedies – also adds pressure on our limited resources of wild medicinal materials.
To address this imbalance, we support the cultivation of wild herb farms and create partnerships to protect endangered and scarce species.
Furthermore, you will never find endangered species like tiger bone or rhino horn from Treasure of the East herbs.
7. Local Processing. Rather than transporting harvested herbs long distances for processing, Tianjiang processes many of its raw materials close to the farm.
Within just the last decade, thirteen manufacturing facilities have been built in close proximity to select farms. This allows herbs – especially those containing delicate essential oils, such as bo he – to receive peak freshness processing shortly after harvesting.
What are the benefits of local processing? Many! Local processing helps to:
- Minimize the loss of delicate active ingredients,
- Prevent the development of mold and yeast, and
- Reduce environmental pollutants.
An additional benefit of local processing is the return of nutrient-rich plant residues back into the field. This practice helps enrich the soil and support healthy growth for the next planting.
8. Supporting Local Farmers. The terms “social responsibility” and “economic resilience” are tossed around a good deal these days. But what do these values actually look like, for an herbal company like Tianjiang?
One example of these values in action is our process for selecting a new farm location.
Once a farm meets Tianjiang's criteria as a Dao Di region with excellent soil, water, and climate conditions, they consider the economics of that region.
Since many of these Dao Di regions exist in remote areas with limited resources, Tianjiang selects those farms with the greatest economic need. In so doing, we introduce new jobs where previous jobs did not exist, and see impoverished areas begin to grow and thrive.
Furthermore, because these farms provide stable and year-round employment, families and residents of these regions can enjoy lasting economic development.
A mutually beneficial relationship with our farmers
Daily life on the farm
In recognition for its efforts to include economic-resiliency as an integral part of its farm selection process, Tianjiang Pharmaceutical was awarded “China Comprehensive Well-Off Special Contribution Enterprise” in 2018. The award highlights the implementation of whole-process quality management: from the source of the seed, seedling, and medicinal material farming.
Tianjiang's CEO Qifei Hu briefly discusses Tianjiang's focus on sustainability
We hope that by sharing these 8 Ways We Preserve & Protect you come away with a deeper understanding of how truly sustainable our herbs are.
With many years of applying Dao Di principles, Tianjiang has gained recognition as an industry leader in the development of Chinese national standards, ISO standards, and American and EU standards on granule herbal extracts.
Want an even deeper dive into sustainable herbal farming? We encourage you to check out the Good Agricultural and Collection Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices for Botanical Materials, endorsed by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).
Our membership with the AHPA further illiustrates our role as an active participant in sustainable farming: we align with AHPA’s mission to preserve biological diversity and regenerate ecosystems, and to support and enhance cultural diversity and economic resilience by providing good livelihoods for herbal farmers.
As always, we welcome any questions you might have about our full-spectrum herbal extracts.
We hope you’ll feel as proud about purchasing Treasure of the East herbs as we do about providing them to the East Asian Medicine and acupuncture profession.