The Unreasonably High Cost of Herbs



I grow my own herbs. Part of this is that by doing so, I have a supply of fresh herbs whenever I want it. An even bigger reason is to save money. People don’t often realize how much money they can save by growing their own herbs.

As an example, in Oregon, I grew a single sage plant. I purchased the seedling for about $3 and it was in a four-inch pot. By the end of the year, that sage plant covered over four square feet and since sage likes poor soil and bad conditions, nothing else would have grown there except weeds.

I gave away roughly half of the sage when I harvested it, and still ended up with two and a half pounds of sage at the end of the year. I air-dried it.

Fast forward to now. I recently priced dried sage at the store. An off-brand (cheap brand) sold rubbed sage in three-quarter ounce bottles for $2.89. The name brand was selling it for $5.63. For just the cheap brand, that comes to $61.65 per pound. (For the name brand, it would be $120.11 per pound.) As I said, I had two and a half pounds of it, so at the price of the cheap sage, that represented over $154.00.

Commercial companies use heat to dry their herbs and heat destroys most of the flavor and healthy substances in the herb. I air-dried mine, so I only lost a small amount of the flavor and health benefits. Still, that amount of money is pure profit, since sage requires no fertilizer, it has few insect pests or diseases and it doesn’t need a lot of water.

The same is true of most other herbs, too. Lavender, thyme, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, parsley…none of these cost much to grow, so when you buy them at the store, you are getting a heat dried product that is overpriced.

Who do you suppose is getting all that profit? You are simply padding someone else’s pocket.

Considering that sage and most herbs can be grown at home in a pot, there is little reason to pay the unreasonably high prices for herbs. People do so mostly because they don’t really think about it.

That is why I’m writing this. I’m hoping that I can encourage more people to think about what they are paying for. If you are buying herbs from the store, you are paying too much.




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Posted in food and plants and tagged , , , , , by with 9 comments.


  • Andria Perry says:

    See you do the figures as I do on many things to find the best for the least amount of money. To me its taking care of my hard earned money but never doing without the best life has to offer.

    I shared this with my Face friends 🙂

    • rextrulove says:

      Yes, we both do that, @andriaperry. A lot of people don’t and just think from the price for that small bottle. If they worked out the price per pound, they’d be staggered.

      Incidentally, I just bought a frozen turkey for $20. That works out to $1.49/pound. Chicken is currently 1.99, so it is cheaper than chicken and will provide us with at least 5 meals. Cost per meal: $4. There are 3 of us, so the cost for each dish will be about $1.33 per person.

  • Sandy KS says:

    it is always cheaper in the long run to grow your own of anything.

    • rextrulove says:

      In the case of dried herbs, they also taste better because they are dried the right way, @rusty2rusty.

      • Sandy KS says:

        What would be the right way of drying them? To lay out in the sun?

        • rextrulove says:

          You have the right idea, @rusty2rusty. They shouldn’t be in the sunshine, though. I usually just hang a bunch by wrapping a bit of yarn around the ends of the stems and tying it. They can then be hung from hooks, such as somewhere in the house that doesn’t get direct sunlight.

          A side benefit of doing it this way is that it makes the room smell fantastic, as they dry.

          • Sandy KS says:

            I will have to try doing it by hanging it up. I want to to try to dry my herbs. Normally I clip fresh when I need them. I would love to have dry herbs to last through winter.

  • Brenda Marie says:

    I would love to be able to grow my own. Do you have any suggestions on how to grow sage indoor?

  • rextrulove says:

    Indeed I do, Brenda. I’ll write an article about it, but in brief, start with a pot that is about 9 inches in diameter and about the same depth. The pot should have drainage holes.

    The soil should be poor and a bit sandy. Potting soil is a bad choice because it is so rich. Sage loves sunshine, so when you plant it, keep it in a window that gets lots of sun, or use a good quality grow light. I have a potted sage that has happily grown all winter long in front of a window that faces west.

    When you water the plants, water well, then let the soil dry out before watering it again. Too much water or letting the roots sit in water is one of the fastest ways there is to kill sage. The sage will tell you when it is thirsty, though. When the leaves start to droop, give it a good drink.

    I’d suggest starting with a seedling, though. Sage can be started by seed, and after it is growing well, it can also be propagated from the stems, but it is so much simpler to start with a plant than it is to start with seeds.

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