Episode 818: The Problem Of The Root : Planet Money The wild ginseng market has gone crazy. We go to a farm hidden in the Appalachian mountains to find out why.
NPR logo Episode 818: The Problem Of The Root

Episode 818: The Problem Of The Root

Julia DeWitt
Fong Lam holding ginseng.
Julia DeWitt

Ginseng is a little ginger-like root that grows in the mountains of Appalachia. It has been used for thousands of years, mostly in China, as a remedy for everything from fatigue to cancer. It is poached from state forests, and it is farmed in secret locations. People have been killed over it.

But not all ginseng is created equal. There's cultivated ginseng and wild ginseng. And the wild stuff is where the money is. It can cost a thousand dollars a pound, or more.

There's a problem with this market: No one quite knows what wild is. Today on the show, we go to a hidden ginseng farm and try to find out.

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