Dedicating The Kathy Krezek Larson Tallgrass Prairie

18 Apr

By Alan Miles

tallgrass prairie

Kathy with the sign for the newly-dedicated prairie.

The Frontier prairie located at our headquarters in Norway, Iowa, was dedicated as The Kathy Krezek Larson Tallgrass Prairie upon the retirement of Vice President of Sustainability Kathy Larson this spring.

tallgrass prairie

Kathy with Frontier CEO Tony Bedard at the surprise dedication ceremony, where she saw the sign and dedication plaque for the first time.

Kathy had a profound influence on Frontier in her three decades of work here. Her knowledge of herbs and aromatherapy was key to establishing Frontier’s expertise in those areas, she established our uncompromising product standards as quality assurance manager, and she was central to the development of Frontier’s social responsibility programs. Continue reading

Tea as a warm weather treat

15 Apr

Iced tea

By Tom Havran

A steaming cup of freshly-brewed tea is a warming delight for the cold winter season, but not nearly as crave-worthy as the weather warms. If tea is part of your daily ritual, don’t abandon it during spring and summer — turn your favorite brew into a cool and heavenly warm weather treat.

Below, a few of my favorite ways to enjoy tea during the spring and summer:

Basic iced tea

Black and green iced tea are wholesome and fortifying ways to quench thirst. For the best flavor, and to avoid cloudy iced tea, follow these tips:

  • Use whole, loose leaf tea (not bags). Whole tea creates a robust flavor without the bitter tannins of the broken leaf in tea bags.
  • Use filtered or distilled water to brew your tea. Avoid hard or treated tap water because any minerals or salts in the water can interfere with the natural flavor of the tea leaves.
  • Use 1½ to 2 times the regular measure of tea leaves to compensate for the ice dilution.
  • Sweeten the tea before you add the ice.
  • Allow the tea to reach room temperature before adding the ice.

Continue reading

The signs are obvious: Facing cinnamon supply pressure

11 Apr


By Cole Daily

One of my favorite movies, The Man with Two Brains, has a scene where Steve Martin’s character is talking to the portrait of his deceased wife and asking her for a sign — even the smallest of signs, anything at all — to indicate whether he should marry a new love he’s come across. As he asks the portrait above the fireplace for guidance, the house starts to shake like a violent earthquake has hit, a voice out of nowhere says emphatically, ”No! No!,” and the portrait begins to spin like a roulette wheel on the wall. It all stops, and Martin implores, “Just give me a sign, any type of sign.” He then goes about marrying the new woman.

“What does this scene have to do with the price of cinnamon in Indonesia?” you ask. We’re getting signs from all over the world that are about as subtle as the ones Martin’s character was getting from the portrait — signs that things are changing in the realm of spices.

A changing environment
There’s not a trip that I go on where a farmer doesn’t express concern about changing climactic conditions and how it’s affecting his crops. Also, land is becoming scarce. Land that was once used for growing spices is now being utilized for food crops or alternative fuel crops like jatropha (an inedible, evergreen shrub cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions), switch grass and corn. Companies as well as countries are buying arable land in Africa and Asia so that they can feed growing populations and meet the need for more fuel. There is every indication that spice prices will continue to rise (they have risen in the marketplace by over 50 percent since 2008), quality will probably suffer, and overall availability will be hindered.

As a spice supplier, we are constantly confronted with individual situations growing out of this changing environment. Continue reading

Kid-friendly spring snack ideas

3 Apr

By Sara Mallicoat

After a brutal Iowa winter — when even my 3-year-old said we needed to move elsewhere — I am over the bitter cold and ready to stop hibernating. This year, I used my hibernation time to master some tasty creations that satisfied my pickiest eater and fed my obsession with sneaking fruits and vegetables into every meal!

If you’re like me, and hear, “Mommy, I’m hungry,” every two hours, then you understand the need to have healthy, kid-friendly (and husband-approved!) snacks constantly on hand. I use organic ingredients wherever possible, which makes my heart happy knowing that I lovingly made something nutritious and tasty that my family loves.

Below are a few of my current favorite recipes. While the deviled eggs and hummus are special occasion treats for us, we make the muffins and roasted chickpeas almost weekly. Happy spring — enjoy!

Spring Snacks-8

Sneaky Blueberry Muffins: These may look like your typical blueberry muffins, but they’re hiding a healthful secret. Packed inside is a cup of whatever vegetable or fruit puree you have on hand (our favorite is squash or half squash, half sweet potato). Get the recipe. Continue reading

How to make a house a home with aromatherapy

27 Mar
A beautiful late-winter Iowa sunset pouring through the windows in my home.

A stunning, late-winter Iowa sunset pouring through the windows in my home.

By Tom Havran

I just built a house with my partner of 21 years, and it was the most stressful thing I’ve ever attempted. It’s the first house I’ve built — and it will be the last if I can help it! Inclement weather delayed groundbreaking for two months and completion by four. Costs were underestimated by about a third. The building site was broken into twice and thousands of dollars in equipment and materials were stolen. The endless decision-making on every fixture, feature, appliance, color, floor covering, door latch, ad infinitum, was like brokering the end of WW III. But finally, our house is done and we’re moving in. We’ve weathered the stressful process and made a long-yearned for dream a beautiful reality, and we’re grateful.

We’re most grateful for the learning that comes from building a home. We discovered it’s not the square footage, the upscale fixtures or the comfortable furnishings that create a sense of place, it’s the people and the love that the house shelters that are its most precious features. In building a house, we’ve come to know what it truly takes to create a home. Thieves can steal all the stuff in your house, a tornado can blow it down, or a fire can consume it, but if you still have one another, then you still have what it takes to have a home.

Home aromatherapy — diffusing the therapeutic properties of essential oils into your home — is another intangible that can help make your house a home. Scents have a powerful effect on our emotional well-being and some help us feel comfortable and secure — ideal for a home environment. Here are a few of the oils that are helping us make our new house a home: Continue reading

The rites of spring: Celebrating the vernal equinox

20 Mar

Spring equinox

By Charlynn Avery

As the year turns and perpetuates the cycle of change, a day I always look forward to is the spring equinox. This important date marks the official recognition of spring and is a celebration of moving toward all things fresh and new. Although we celebrate the New Year at the beginning of January, this date is truly one that indicates beginning. It is time to clean out, begin anew and rejoice in the increase of light each day.

I choose to celebrate this important day as a way to recognize my own interaction with the natural world. After a winter spent mostly indoors, I am ready to get outside and plunge my hands into the earth to reconnect and remind myself of the beginning of the cycle of life. I do small things – rites, if you will – that help me create my own transition to warmer days. Continue reading

Why brunch is the best meal ever invented

13 Mar

By Tom Havran

Sunday is funday because it’s the traditional day for brunch — the best meal ever invented! It’s breakfast for lunch and lunch for breakfast.You can sleep in past breakfast time and still get a breakfast you can linger over for as long as you want. When brunch is done and you say goodbye to your dining companions, you still have the rest of the day for yourself. (I suggest a nap.)

Brunch on a Sunday is the best way to celebrate the end of one week and the beginning of a new one. But most of all, brunch is the best meal because of the food — which can be light and healthy, a decadent weekend indulgence, or a mix of both kinds of fare (my preference). I break the ultimate brunch down into seven courses:

asparagus frittata with thyme

Asparagus Frittata with Thyme

1. Eggs. I like them fresh and local, scrambled soft or sunny side up with buttered multigrain toast. For the fluffiest scrambled eggs, separate the whites and whip them to soft peaks. Whisk the yolks, then fold them into the whites. Scramble the egg mixture in a buttered skillet (no need to add cream or milk), then season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. For best flavor, remove from heat and serve on warm plates while still creamy but not runny. I also love egg dishes, like this Asparagus Frittata with Thyme. Continue reading

Kathy Larson: An essential Frontier ingredient

11 Mar
Kathy Larson allspice seedlings

Kathy (in blue pants) delivers organic allspice seedlings to native growers in Guatemala.

By Alan Miles

Almost 33 years ago, a woman dressed as a witch stopped by a converted grocery store in Fairfax, Iowa, to pick up her buying club order from the then fledgling Frontier Herbs. She started talking to the guy who brought her order out, excited that there was now a place to buy herbs within driving distance of her rural home. As she was leaving, she remarked, “It’s so cool that you guys are here!” The Frontier staff member replied, “Do you want a job?”

Back in her car after accepting the offer, the woman realized that she had never mentioned during her conversation that she was going to a Halloween party. She wondered if they would be expecting her to show up the next day in a black hat and cape.

That impromptu interview and job offer had a profound influence on Frontier. The woman hired was Kathy Larson. Currently our Vice President of Sustainability, Kathy has been instrumental in helping make Frontier what it is today. Continue reading

Our Frontier family tree

7 Mar

By Alan Miles

Working at Frontier is a good way to expand your social circle. It’s a friendly atmosphere, and most of the people you meet here have a network of family and friends. It makes each introduction a bit like being introduced to a village.

One reason for this is that a large number of the 350-plus full-time employees at our three Iowa locations — Norway, Urbana and North Liberty — come from the rural, small-town areas around our facilities. In some respects, many employees come almost literally from a village, as they’re members of small, farm-based communities who share schools, social events and family ties. So it’s natural that they know each other and have relations, friends and acquaintances in common.

But it’s as common for employees commuting from nearby cities to recommend working here to their family and friends as it is for those living down the road.

Frontier onsite childcare

Children at our onsite childcare enjoying a surprise visit from a baby goat.

Onsite childcare keeps families together
We don’t have stats on exactly how many people were encouraged to apply by employees, but it’s very common to have new hires say they heard about Frontier from a friend who works here. In terms of family recommendations, almost 1 in 4 current Frontier employees has, or has had, an immediate family member working here. Many employees have come to work at Frontier as second-generation workers after attending Frontier Childcare when their parents worked here. Continue reading

3 ways deep breathing helps us heal

3 Mar

deep breathing

By Katie Staab

I opened my eyes, disoriented in the snowy January twilight, and immediately knew I needed to focus on my breath. I was just coming to after losing control of my car on an icy road, resulting in a collision that sent my car careening into the ditch. In the hours to come, I’d learn that my four rib fractures had punctured my right lung, filling my chest cavity with fluid and collapsing my lung. Yet, even without the medical explanations, I knew in that initial moment of consciousness that I needed to breathe.

Since my accident, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about breathing. Deep breathing is important to the physical healing of my lung, but I’m also learning its place in the emotional, mental and spiritual process of healing. In yoga, prana is a sanskrit word for breath, but more importantly, it implies our life force. If we choose to think about our breath being a force that carries with it our life and what we go through, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned about breathing through my recovery:

Breathing creates pause, helping us create space for healing in our bodies, minds and busy lives. There’s a reason that we take a deep breath when we need to pause. It’s a physical way of pulling the reins on ourselves when our thoughts or emotions threaten to run out of control. Likewise, healing (physical, emotional or otherwise) requires us to pause our busy lives — slow down, rest, reflect. Deep breathing helps remove the pressure of our hurried lives, reminding us that this pause isn’t an inconvenience to be rushed through, but a rich, revitalizing season of life. Continue reading


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