Turning Invasive Weeds Into Income


| 6/25/2018 10:09:00 AM


 

Kudzu - Wikipedia Commons

They come in through hay, even certified weed-free hay. They come in through wind, tire treads, boat underbellies, as stickers on socks and coats. Abundant weeds, invasive weeds are all over the globe and the farm. Researchers find that in this age of high CO2 emissions, they grow and spread faster than non-invasive plants. Culturally, we are taught to view them as usurping space for crop and pasture grass. Some do.

And yet many have uses as crops themselves. In this post, we'll take a look at how some businesses use some of the most persistent weeds as raw material—and have for years. We'll look at a variety of herbal, beekeeping, weed control, wood-working, and paper-making endeavors, starting with food-based companies.

Chef Peter Becker, via his German company, Newtrition Ink, manages the spread of Japanese knotweed, which is highly invasive, nutritious, and medicinal, by making and selling jam and relish. He calls this community conservation work Bionic Knotweed Control. He does the same with the invasive Himalayan Balsam.



Chicory is a major international commercial food plant. France, Belgium, and the Netherlands produce the most. It is sold as a coffee substitute and is used by chefs in many recipes. Both small-scale local producers and large multinational corporations sell chicory and its derivative, Inulin. Nestle' grows it in South Africa. Other big companies include it as a major component in coffee substitute products. An internet search for “chicory coffee company” yields many small roasters who proudly roast and sell the ground root intermixed with coffee, dandelion root, or by itself. There is even a guide book to starting your own chicory root business.





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