Ethical Sourcing: What it Means for Gaia Herbs Gaia’s Approach to Ethical Sourcing

Published on October 19, 2022

At Gaia Herbs, ingredients are our everything. We look to nature to provide the solutions to holistic wellness via traditional herbs and plant-powered formulations, and the earth always provides.* But we can’t create the supplements you love without doing our part to give back not only to the earth, but to the people who help grow and source those ingredients. 

Purity, potency, and integrity are the cornerstones of our philosophy at Gaia Herbs; we believe in keeping it clean, keeping it real, and keeping it strong, and this all begins at the root: sourcing

How We Source Our Ingredients

We always aim to source ingredients where they grow best, in the specific conditions and climate that help them fulfill their fullest potential. We grow many ingredients on our farm in North Carolina, but we cannot grow everything required for our vast catalog of products, so we also work with partners across North America and worldwide. 

Ethical Sourcing at Gaia Herbs

Because we work with outside partners to source many ingredients, we practice ethical sourcing. This is done in several ways, including ethical environmental practices and social responsibility.

“When we look at the ethics of sourcing herbs, sourcing as close as we can to our facility and understanding the plants, seeing the way they’re grown, the best way we can do that is on our farm,” explains Stephanie Kane, Global Sourcing Specialist at Gaia Herbs.

“We grow around a quarter of our needs. The rest comes from our trusted partners,” says Chase Millhollen, Global Sourcing Manager. “It’s a deep intimate relationship. Some of our suppliers we’ve had for over ten years, so they’re like family.” These partnerships help ensure transparency and that the high-quality, nutrient-dense herbs we need are grown in their natural bio-region.

Trust and Transparency

“We do very thorough testing at Gaia, but we can’t test for everything,” says Millhollen. “That’s where the trust and transparency come in. As one of the most transparent companies in the natural products industry, I look for that when I’m sourcing ingredients.” When visiting partner farms throughout the United States and places like Nicaragua, where our Turmeric is grown, this emphasis on transparency and trust is evident. 

Gaia’s Sourcing Standards

“These are a guiding light for any new innovation,” says Kane. We believe in sourcing fair trade, organic herbs and organic herbs that go above and beyond just organic, including biodynamic and Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC). Our standards also include fair trade ingredients.

We also emphasize wild craft standards for wild plants we purchase to make sure the suppliers are promoting regeneration of these plants.”

Another way Gaia practices ethical sourcing is by examining climate impact. “We look at the climate miles [of an ingredient],” says Kane. “Two plants we looked at were Mimosa Bark and Japanese Knotweed, which traditionally come from China.” Since both plants now grow prolifically on the East Coast where Gaia Herbs is headquartered, the team worked with a local supplier to develop a wild-crafted source. “We now get them from 200 miles away instead of 8,000 to 10,000 miles.” 

Social Responsibility and Sourcing

Care for people, plants, and the planet is at the heart of our mission, and when sourcing, we also ensure the human element of the process is prioritized. “Ethical sourcing looks like looking at the social component of our ingredients as well as the environmental component,” says Kane, citing Turmeric as an example. “We look at the entire environment around where our Turmeric is grown. It’s not just the farm and whether or not the crops are sprayed, but how sourcing Certified Organic is keeping pesticides out of the water system in that community.” The Turmeric farms we partner with in Nicaragua are traditionally coffee farms, but the farmers began growing Turmeric to diversify their income. 

“There is a network of people growing [these ingredients] for us,” says Millhollen. “How can we support them?”