Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or "wild" habitat, for food or medicine. It applies to uncultivated plants whether they are in the wilderness, the city, or in your own backyard.
Today wildcrafting is less about survival and more about learning about the nature around you, understanding what it needs to thrive, and using what you find responsibly.
True wildcrafting is a process of harvest pruning which never exploits or diminishes wild plant communities. Instead it supports and enhances them. Unfortunately it's not always practiced responsibly. It is thought that leaving plants to grow on their own, under the stresses they find in nature, results in plants with a stronger essence.
You can learn more about wildcrafting from herbalists such as:
The USDA organic regulations describe organic agriculture as the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.
Most countries have an organic certifying organization. Producers typically have to hire an Organic Certifying Agent to verify that their production process meets organic standards.
Wildcrafted or Certified Organic?
It depends. I love the idea of wildcrafting, but it the best method depends on the circumstances. Plants that are endangered or threatened shouldn't be touched in the wild. In this case responsibly cultivated certified organic is the way to go.
Of course, certified organic doesn't necessarily mean responsibly cultivated. Some groups would rather source materials from a small farmer that they personally know and trust that uses organic practices, over a large commercial group that is certified organic. I get it.
Wildcrafted is great if it's done responsibly. But, since there isn't a wildcrafting certification (that I know of), this is hard to know.
The goal - to find the best product that causes the least harm possible (or does the most good) and is reasonably priced. This comes down to research to understanding the retailers and suppliers business philosophy and mission. Of course, this takes time and effort and is not always possible, in which case I go with the certified organic.