Ann Armbrecht is an author, filmmaker and the Director of the Sustainable Herbs Program. Since her time studying with legendary herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who emphasizes a kin-centric relationship with plants, Ann has explored the nature of plants as living entities rather than merely inanimate objects to ingest. Her recent book The Business of Botanicals: Exploring the Healing Promise of Plant Medicines in a Global Industry took her on an international journey to investigate how the commodification of herbal medicine affects the essence of plants. Ann was interviewed by Arty Mangan of Bioneers.
Excerpt: "My objective in writing the book was to help readers see the system from the perspective of the different people involved and the different stakeholders. The Sustainable Herbs Program is initiating conversations to bring together different voices beyond those who have often been the only ones we hear from. We are connecting producer groups from Croatia, Georgia, Peru, Nepal and India with companies in the U.S., Germany and the UK to speak about issues around wage, income, and soil health to bring more depth to conversations around sustainability rather than just throwing the word around.
Herbal medicine can be a container for a right relationship with the Earth. Robin Kimmerer talks about honorable harvest, and a person who works for a long-time German trading family talked about the concept of the “honorable businessman.” Both of those concepts make me think about the cultural container of our relationship. Capitalism tends to be just about price, and it seems that the botanical industry, which is rooted in traditions of right relationship, has the potential to be ethical in an unethical economic system. I don’t know if it is possible, but if any industry should be leading the way, I feel like the botanical industry should be because relationship with the plants should be at the heart of it."
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