WV Public Broadcasting Staff
Sun March 16, 2014
Ginseng TV Show Features Questionable Practices
The History Channel featured a new show this year that focused on ginseng in Appalachia. According to Neilson ratings, the show, called Appalachian Outlaws, was one of the most popular on cable channels, averaging over 2.7 million viewers per each of its six episodes. There’s no official word if season two is in the works, and while some fans are hoping that there will be a second season, other people are hoping the show will just go away.
What is Ginseng?
Wild American ginseng has been harvested from North America since the 1700s. Demand for the plant’s root comes from Asian markets where plants like ginseng have been used medicinally for over 2500 years. And yes, we’re talking serious demand. A pound of quality, dried ginseng can easily sell for $400-$900. But that’s wild ginseng, or wild simulated (which means it’s being grown under watchful eyeballs in forested areas where it would naturally grow—if it had a chance).
The up-shot is that the plant is at risk. It’s been declining in numbers and it faces a lot of threats. In fact, it’s listed alongside things like ivory and shark and mahogany on CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international agreement between governments, which exists to protect species against over-exploitation through international trade.
- Habitat loss
- Browsing by white-tailed deer
- Invasive species
How to Pick:
Three For the Money:
Is Appalachian Outlaws Irresponsible TV?
Some worry it promotes all the wrong practices, and viewers are mislead by inaccuracies. A letter has been written to A&E Network expressing concern. Petitions have been created to help in conservation efforts.
Arts & Culture