Tag Archives: natural living

Organic Primer by the USDA

29 Apr

In a series called Organic 101, the USDA has blogged about the meaning of the USDA Organic label. Miles McEvoy, National Organic Program Director, has written the series, which provides a helpful primer on just what organic means, in terms of USDA involvement. Here are the installments you’ll find on their blog, along with just one or two examples of the kinds of information contained in each segment:

Part 1: What Organic Farming (and Processing) Doesn’t Allow. When it comes to dairy and meat products, for example, the USDA organic label insures that the animals were raised in living conditions “that accommodated their natural behaviors, without being administered hormones or antibiotics, and while grazing on pasture grown on healthy soil.”

Part 2: Allowed and Prohibited Substances. In this installment, you’ll learn that while organic agriculture allows natural substances and prohibits synthetic, vaccines are considered an important part in maintaining animal health.

Part 3:  What the USDA Organic Label Means. No foods labeled with the USDA Organic label can be grown or handled using genetically modified organisms. And packaged products that indicate they are “made with organic something” must contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients.

To learn more about the USDA Organic Label, read the blog at USDA Blog.

This article also appeared in our Frontier Member News, the monthly enewsletter for our co-op members.

Here’s how you can become a co-op member.

What Makes a Co-op?

9 Apr

Since Frontier was founded in 1976, we’ve been a co-op. But what exactly does that mean?

Our co-op members are the owners of Frontier. They guide our business decisions, share in our success, and support organic farmers around the world.

Since the co-op began, we’ve remained firmly committed to our founding values — values like integrity, openness, social responsibility, and respect for the environment.

We’ve always considered the way we do business an essential part of our success — and we consider it a requirement of our success that we grow and prosper by contributing to the world rather than exploiting it.

We feel this special relationship of ownership is at the heart of our success. Not only do we have unique insight into natural products by having our member/owners in direct contact with the consumers of the products, the co-op structure has fostered our honest, responsible business practices that are increasingly valued in the marketplace.

A sentence that came out of one of Frontier’s earliest planning sessions expresses one of our most important commitments:

“In all that we do, at all times and with all people,

we will conduct our affairs and the affairs of the company with absolute integrity.”

We apply this test to everything from our product ingredient decisions to the sharing of information with our customers.

And we invite you to join us as a member of our co-op!

Book Review: Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook by Leslie Cerier

28 Mar

by Karen Miles

If you’re adhering to a gluten-free diet because you have celiac disease or other health conditions that benefit from avoiding gluten, this is one cookbook you’ll want on your cookbook shelf. But be sure to take a look at it if you’re interested in exploring a variety of whole grains, too — regardless of what else you eat! Continue reading

A Visit With Nikki and David Goldbeck – and a book giveaway!

28 Feb

The Wall Street Journal called The Supermarket Handbook the “manifesto” for a food revolution “that may be in the wind” back in 1973. And Nikki and David Goldbeck’s 1973 best-seller did help revolutionize America’s diet. The Goldbecks were early proponents for a broader acceptance of healthful foods and better food labeling, now mainstream ideas.

Over 30 years and many books later, David and Nikki still believe experiencing the joys of real food is the best incentive for people to do something about what is happening to our food supply.

It’s a full circle moment when we can stop and compare notes with our fellow organic food pioneers. We’re lucky to have become acquainted with the Goldbecks in their current hometown of Woodstock, New York, where they agreed to chat with us.

Nikki and David Goldbeck. Photo courtesy Hudson Valley Life.

How does it make you feel to see that the mainstream has come around to your way of thinking about food? Did you think that would happen?

Of course, it feels great. At the same time it’s amusing and at times frustrating to hear people telling us about these “new” ideas. But this isn’t the first time we’ve been there ahead of the crowd. David’s book, The Smart Kitchen, pioneered green kitchen design. We wrote Choose to Reuse, a book on reuse in 1995, when reusable shopping bags were still a novelty, and we published Clean & Green, a book on nontoxic cleaning, before the stores were stocked with more benign cleaning products. We are glad to see all of our concepts are finally catching on.

How did you get started with eating a wholefoods cuisine? Can you take us back to the beginning? What led you down this path?

In the late 1960s, we were living in NYC, where David was practicing law in legal services and Nikki was working on Madison Ave. doing food PR and recipe development. Influenced by friends and the times, we became aware of how meat was “manufactured” and decided on New Year’s Eve to go vegetarian for a week. After a week, we never looked back. This “experiment” led us not only to experience the joys of meat-free cooking, but began an awareness about food additives, food processing, chemical farming and the like — that launched us on our way.

We have always advocated a diet focused on wholefoods, a term we coined in American Wholefoods Cuisine, and define as “fresh and unfragmented foods that are as close to nature as possible.” Our “Wholefoods Philosophy,” which expands on this concept and is explained in more depth in that book, has remained essentially unchanged since we began this journey some 40 years ago.

What’s the easiest way for people to change their eating habits, if they feel they should?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to eating. What is of utmost importance in staying with any diet is enjoyment. Whether you are one person or a family, hate to cook or love it, there are choices you can make that are simple, healthy and fun. One of the ways we think about food is to “dine each day as if you were in a different foreign country.” That way you get both variety and pleasure.

How can people use spices to make simple foods more interesting? Do you have a go-to spice that you find yourself using on lots of dishes?

Spices are the foundation of every good cuisine. Remember our advice to eat each day as if you were dining in a different foreign country? What distinguishes all of these cuisines is the way in which they take basic foodstuffs and flavor them to create the world’s great culinary delights. Oddly, the spice we turn to quite often is cumin – it seems to work with so many different cuisines … Arab, Israeli, South American, Indian, African, and more.

Let’s get back to your books. What was your first book? How did you write it? Did you test the recipes yourself?

The first book was Nikki’s cookbook, Cooking What Comes Naturally, A Month of Vegetarian Menus. Following the “trial” vegetarian week, and constant questions from family and friends about what we were eating, David began writing down what we had for dinner on a calendar. After 30 days, we realized we had eaten more interesting and varied meals than ever before.

As a result, Nikki began to refine the recipes, David served as the #1 food taster, and a book was born. As luck, or timing, would have it, Nikki made friends with a woman on the bus going to work who told her that Doubleday, where she worked, was considering a vegetarian cookbook. And as they say…the rest is history.

Did you go on a book tour then?

We went on a small tour. But what stands out is our appearance on the Donahue show, which was just ending its run in Dayton, Ohio and about to move into the big time in Chicago.

Tell us about your visits on Donahue. (For our younger readers, Phil Donahue’s show was the precursor to Oprah)

Over the next few decades we appeared three more times on Donahue, filling the entire hour talking about each of our subsequent books, starting with The Supermarket Handbook and then American Wholefoods Cuisine. He was a terrific host (even though he did wave around tofu and compare it to wallboard!) And it was quite a challenge, since there was no TV kitchen. We still laugh about the time we were holed up in the Drake Hotel in Chicago cooking on improvised equipment in preparation for the show where we introduced vegetarian wholefoods cooking to America.

Nikki & David cook with Phil Donahue.
Donahue turned over four one-hour shows
(c1974, 1977, 1979, 1983) to the Goldbecks to present their
approach to wholefoods shopping, cooking and nutrition.

You’ve also written a restaurant guide, Healthy Highways, to help people “avoid the fast-food lane” when dining away from home. Do you see this as a new direction in your work?

Healthy Highways is the next logical step in our food writing as we see it. We have written about how to shop for wholefoods, how to cook them, how to choose a healthy diet, and how to set up an environmentally-friendly kitchen.

But the missing piece was how to eat healthfully away from home. In Healthy Highways, we “travel” state-by-state, city-by-city, letting people know where they can find a natural foods store or restaurant that features vegetarian and vegan meals.

Our goal is three-fold: to help people eat well away from home; to bring customers to natural food stores and vegetarian and vegan restaurants; and, to encourage restaurants everywhere to pay more attention to people looking for meatless meals and healthier options. We are happy to say that there are more eateries around the country offering real (and creative) choices – not simply a plate of vegetables or salad.

Thanks so much, David and Nikki! It’s been great to connect with you and to see you’re still stirring things up in the food world.

Now in its second edition,  American Wholefoods Cuisine contains more than 1300 recipes and has been hailed as “the new Joy of Cooking.” Admired by M.F.K Fisher and nominated for the prestigious Tastemaker Award, this book is a culinary triumph of vegetarian cuisine and foreshadowed today’s emphasis on wholesome foods.

And the Goldbecks have given some of the delicious, practical and healthy recipes you’ll find in the book to our website.

Check out the simple goodness of such dishes as White Bean Paté, Potatoes Nicoise, Stuffed Clam Shells Areganata, Hot Open-Face Tempeh Sandwiches and African Bean Soup in our recipe collection.

We think this book belongs on every cook’s shelf. And Nikki and David want to give a copy of American Wholefoods Cuisine to a lucky fan on their Facebook page! Their page is a handy resource for recipes, tips and articles about a natural vegan diet.

Just visit their page, click “Like” and leave a comment telling them why you’d like a copy of the book, between now and March 6. 

 They’ll choose a winner at random after March 6 and send that lucky fan a copy of American Wholefoods Cuisine. 

REMEMBER — don’t leave your comment to win the book here, please leave it on the Goldbeck’s Facebook page – link above.

2012: The International Year of the Co-op Contest

13 Feb

2012 has been recognized as the International Year of Co-operatives by the United Nations.

This is an acknowledgement that co-operatives drive the economy, respond to social change and are resilient to the global economic crisis. They’re vital and successful businesses creating jobs in all sectors.

We’d like to give you a chance to support and contribute to the growth of the co-op movement. Simply post a photo on Frontier Facebook page between February 5 and February 18 that best represents the strength and vitality of your co-op. (The co-op needs to be an actual bricks and mortar storefront, so buying clubs and websites are not eligible.)

Here’s an example:

Moscow Food Co-op, Moscow, Idaho - Fair Trade Event

Then launch your own campaign to get your friends to vote for your photo on our page!

The owner of the photo with the most votes between February 19 and 25 will be rewarded with a prize of a $150 shopping spree at your favorite co-op.

And for every vote received, we’ll donate 25¢ to the Cooperative Development Foundation.

The CDF is instrumental in assisting start-up co-ops as well as providing support and training for existing co-ops. CDF has been around for over 65 years, supporting cooperative enterprise worldwide.  From tsunami recovery efforts to cooperative home care, CDF is making a difference in people’s lives.

Here are the details and official rules.

Don’t forget to snap that photo next time you go shopping!

Creating the Perfect Pickle

19 Aug

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who’s never forgotten the fun of canning and pickling the bounty from your garden. Or you’re one of the many new people joining in this time-tested way to enjoy your crops all year long.

A symbol of both thrift and abundance, the pickle jar is a staple in every well-stocked pantry. If growing your own pickles doesn’t strike your fancy, you’re still a pickler if you enjoy mixing up that lively relish recipe or gourmet side dish of spicy pickled mango.

Using an array of spices and a variety of produce (think outside the cucumber patch), you can easily make your own signature pickles.

You’ll find it easy to experiment when making pickles, because the basic ingredients and processes are similar

If you’re going to make pickles, good spices are essential to good pickling. If you have fresh spices in the garden, like stalks of graceful dill, include those for visual interest and fresh taste.

But dried spices — whole, ground, and crushed — are really all you need.

For ease and dependability, you might want to keep a ready-made pickling blend on hand. You can have some fun concocting your own custom spice combinations, too. One person’s favorite pickles might highlight the warm sweetness of cardamom and allspice, for example, while another cook’s favorite blend might pop with chili peppers and garlic.

Here’s our favorite blend to get you on your way.  This is where the bulk section can really be your friend – buy a pinch or buy a pound of these ingredients, depending on the size of your project.

GET-YOU-STARTED PICKLING SPICE BLEND

Use this recipe as a rough guideline, and vary amounts and spice choices according to taste. Simply combine all ingredients to make about 1/4 cup of blend. Make small batches of several blends and use your assortment on pickling day.

one 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken up

3 bay leaves, torn into small pieces

2 small dried chili peppers cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed

2 teaspoons dill seed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed

Finally, here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Use soft water, or distilled or bottled water. Hard water interferes with the curing process.
  • Use vinegars—cider, white, or others—with 4 to 6 percent acetic acid. Commercial vinegars meet this requirement, and you can buy a ph meter to test homemade vinegars.
  • Use pickling salt—not table salt that contains iodine or anti-caking agents or sea salt, which contains trace minerals. Pickling salt (and kosher salt) is free of additives that might discolor ingredients.
  • Use pots, pans, and bowls that are unchipped enamel, stainless, or glass. Galvanized, copper, brass, or iron pans or utensils can react with the salts or acids and change the color and taste of the pickles or even form toxic compounds.

Please visit our Facebook page and post a photo of your pickle or canning project – we’ll randomly choose one of you to win a great batch of canning accessories and spices!

A Timeline of Frontier’s History

14 Aug

We’ve had some fans ask us about our start…here’s a timeline with some brief highlights about milestones in our history — and we look forward to many more!

FRONTIER TIMELINE

1976

Frontier begins as two-person operation.
Frontier started out offering difficult-to-find herbs, spices and botanicals to local co-ops.

1978

Establish $1/hr childcare subsidy and employee lunch program.
These two early employee benefits set the tone for three decades of family-friendly and innovative benefits for Frontier workers. We believe a company that creates, produces, and markets wholesome, natural foods and personal care products should also focus on workplace policies and practices that promote personal well-being.

Add first organic products to line.
Frontier was an early leader in promoting organic products and the environmental and social benefits of organic agriculture. We have held that position of leadership throughout our 30-year history. We were the first to offer organic herbs and spices and first to be certified as an organic processor. We have provided ongoing support of the organic industry and organic agriculture worldwide with programs like the donation of 1% of Simply Organic sales to organic farming causes.

Buy 5,200 sq. ft. grocery store in Fairfax, Iowa, and convert into operations facility.

Begin bottling essential oils in response to store requests.

1979

Begin selling other manufacturer’s products in response to store requests.

Incorporate as cooperative owned by customers.

1980

Return first patronage refund.
As a co-op, Frontier returns profits to its member/owners in the form of patronage refunds. Since the first check was sent out in March 1980, Frontier has returned almost $7 million dollars to members.

Implement computerized order systems.

1981

Elect Frontier’s first Board of Directors.

1982

Purchase 10 acres near Norway, Iowa and build 22,152 sq. ft. facility.

1983

Frontier listed 78th on Inc. magazine’s list of “America’s Fastest Growing Companies.”

Establish subsidized on-site childcare and cafeteria.

Produce 135-page Herb & Spice handbook.

1984

Expand Norway facilities to 31,992 sq. ft.

Change by-laws to allow non-co-operative stores to be Frontier members.

1985

Purchase first personal computers.

1986

Become first herb and spice manufacturer with certified organic processing.

1988

Introduce line of packaged spices in response to consumer demand.

Purchase additional 46 acres adjoining Norway site and expand facilities to 37,824 sq. ft.

1989

Introduce CO2 fumigation.
Frontier was the first in the Natural Products Industry to use a natural CO2 process to control infestation in herbs and spices. This natural process allows us to avoid the use of chemical fumigants and provide greater purity in our products.

Expand Norway facilities to 57,360 sq. ft.

1990

Start Frontier Research Farm for testing and developing methods of organic agriculture.

Launch line of bottled spices.

1991

Introduce line of herbal extracts.

Introduce Frontier Coffee, a line of gourmet, 100% organic coffee.

1992

Re-establish tall grass prairie on 21 acres of Norway site.

Introduce cryogenic grinding to preserve product quality in processing.

Begin selling Frontier products through natural food distributors.

Host first Herbfest.
Frontier hosted 13 HerbFest conferences. HerbFest was the country’s largest annual conference on herbs and sustainable living, drawing as many as 1,425 participants each August to the Frontier site in Norway, Iowa. Recognized experts from around the country and the world led hundreds of seminars on natural living that were attended by people from all over the United States.

Frontier CEO Rick Stewart receives Iowa Small Business Person of the Year Award.

1993

Create botanical garden at Norway site.

Working Mother magazine picks Frontier as one of the “100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers.”

Introduce organic Frontier beer.

Expand Norway facilities to 86,076 sq. ft.

1994

Working Mother magazine again picks Frontier as one of the “100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers.”

Establish Frontier Coffee social programs.

Build coffee roasting facility in Urbana, Iowa.

Buy Aura Cacia Aromatherapy brand.

1995

Launch first line of certified organic essential oils.
Another example of organic leadership, with Frontier using the expertise gained in sourcing organic herbs and spices to bring the first organic line of essential oils to the marketplace. Just as Frontier’s early promotion of organic botanicals helped create the market for organics, this cutting-edge move into organic essential oils set new standards and built support for organic growth in aromatherapy.

Launch first Frontier web site.

Distill basil essential oil in conjunction with Purdue University.

For the third consecutive year, Working Mother magazine picks Frontier as one of the “100 Best Companies in America for Working Mothers.”

1996

Establish Goldenseal Project.
The Goldenseal Project was created by Frontier to encourage the development of cultivated sources of goldenseal to counteract overharvesting of the plant’s native populations.

Aura Cacia begins in-house gas chromatography testing program.
The expansion of Frontier’s in-house quality testing program to include gas chromatography testing for all oils allowed us to achieve a new level of control and make a truly meaningful guarantee of quality and purity. Our industry-leading quality-testing program with GC allows us to determine the chemical composition of oils to a greater degree of accuracy than other methods allow.

1997

Move marketing office to Boulder, Colorado.

1998

Frontier given “Socially Responsible Business Award” by Natural Products Expo.

Create herb preserve and research farm in Meigs County, Ohio.
Frontier purchased 68 acres in the Appalachian region of Ohio and founded the National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs (NCPMH) to preserve native populations of at-risk herbs and research methods of cultivating them to counter the effects of over-harvesting.

1999

Founder and CEO Rick Stewart retires.

Expand Norway facilities to present total of 115,248 sq. ft.

2000

Hire Steve Hughes as CEO.

2001

Sell Frontier Coffee to Green Mountain Coffee.

2002

Donate NCPMH to Rural Action.

Organic certification regulations go into effect; Frontier already in full compliance.

Introduce Simply Organic, 100% organic line of spices, seasonings, flavors, mixes and boxed dinners.
The Simply Organic brand is Frontier’s most ambitious effort to date to increasing the reach of organics with affordable, convenient culinary products that fit the modern lifestyle.

Eliminate share money requirement for members.

CEO Steve Hughes resigns. Board creates committee to assume day-to-day operational control and rehires previous key managers. Return executive and management functions to Norway, Iowa.

2003

Hire Tony Bedard as CEO.Move Aura Cacia to former coffee facility in Urbana, Iowa.

Sell boxed dinner portion of Simply Organic to Annie’s.

2004

Adopt mission statement “To convert the world to natural and organic products.”

Begin offering Fair Trade teas.
Fair Trade certification ensures standards are met for wages, living conditions and working conditions for tea pickers.Establish Frontier wholesale web site with online ordering. As we steadily expand and enhance our online service, we expect it to grow in importance to our customers. Over $2 million of sales have been placed on the wholesale site since it went online in September 2004.

Achieve record sales and profitability.

2005

Establish Well Earth program to develop high quality and socially responsible suppliers around the world.
Frontier’s Well Earth program was created to proactively find and develop high-quality and socially responsible organic suppliers around the world and partner with them in producing products and implementing social programs. Our first Well Earth partner is an Indian vanilla supplier that offers workers unusually good job opportunities and pay and contributes to feeding disadvantaged schoolchildren throughout India. Well Earth is a valuable tool in providing our customers with products of the very highest quality and integrity.

Establish Aura Cacia’s Online Aromatherapy retailer training.

$43.4 million in sales leads to record year in sales and profitability.

Achieve new records in market share for aromatherapy and spice products.

2006

Celebrate 30th anniversary!

Today, after even more expansion and advancement, we’re dedicated to continuing our tradition of excellence in all we do.

A July Walk Through Our Tallgrass Prairie

7 Jul

Kathy Larson, Frontier’s VP of Sustainability, took another walk through the tallgrass prairie at our Norway, Iowa, headquarters with her camera, and shares her experience and photos with us here. She’ll return again soon to chronicle the prairie’s changes throughout the year.

With parades, flags, and fireworks over, it’s a good time to head out to the prairie for a relaxing look at nature’s more lasting glory.

A lot has changed since a month ago — everything is taller and more lush. The red-winged blackbirds are as noisy as ever, flying over my head then perching on last year’s sturdy compass plant flower stalks, keeping an eye on me as they guard their hidden nests. A prairie is prime nesting and feeding habitat for these birds, whose diet is about 75% small seeds and grains and 25% small insects — both of which are plentiful here.

Both of the species of echinacea in our prairie are starting to bloom. Echinacea pallida has slender pale purple-pink, drooping petals with a conical seed head rising above them.

Echinacea purpurea’s light purple flowers are wider and form more of a disc.

Another purple flower is horsemint (Monarda fistulosa). The plants are widespread through the upper parts of the prairie and covered with flower buds. The whole plant has a minty-spicy aroma and flavor. Teas made from horseweed were commonly used as remedies among Midwest native peoples.

Two milkweeds adorn our prairie. First is the orange-flowered butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Next is the common milkweed (Asclepias syrica), which has pink and white flower balls at the tops of the plants. Although the milkweeds are much loved by butterflies, none would come and pose for a picture this day.

The color yellow is not to be outdone by the pinks and purple on this walk. Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia serotina) are found here and there in the drier parts of the prairie — their brown center discs like dark eyes looking out from among the sunny petals.

And yellow coneflowers (Ratidibida pinnata) are just starting to send out their yellow petals from their gray/brown central cones.

The flowers of the golden Alexanders, so prevalent in last month’s prairie, are all but gone, and seeds are starting to ripen and turn brown.

The spotted St. John’s (Hypericum punctatum) is just starting to open its half-inch yellow flowers with their numerous stamens that give the flower’s center a whimsical, fairyland look.

Canadian milk vetch (Astragalus canadensis), a legume that helps add nitrogen to prairie soil, grows here and there in small dense colonies, its white flowered spikes easily hidden by surrounding plants.

Another plant with spikes of white flowers is prairie false indigo (Baptisia leucantha). The inch-long, pea-like flowers open first at the bottom of the foot-long stalk.

Along the prairie edges, I find a few yarrow plants (Achillea millefolium) with their white clusters of flowers atop finely divided foliage. While not planted as part of the prairie, yarrow grows wild in old pastures and waste areas and has found its way along the prairie edge where there is plenty of sun.

A stroll over to the small wildlife pond at the edge of the prairie reveals that the recent hot weather lowered the water level several feet.

The track-covered muddy banks now exposed are proof of the pond’s value to the wildlife living in and near the prairie.

When the sun goes down later, the night will be filled with the singing of the frogs that make their home there.

Enjoy Kathy’s previous prairie visit.

And here’s our food feature on Cobblers, Crisps & Pies as Summer Fruit Treats.

ReUse Connection

29 Jun

Since one of our missions on this blog is to keep unraveling the puzzle of sustainability, we appreciate it when we come across recycling tips that make sense and as a bonus are fun, too. If you ever wonder what you can do with that mountain of Starburst wrappers on the floor of your car, this is your kind of site.

Since 2009, ReUse Connection has been using social media to promote the re-use of materials and items by providing a platform for people to share and discuss re-use examples. . . and by supporting eco-entrepreneurship.  It’s an inspiring use of Facebook in particular, with over 70,000 followers engaging in discussions and sharing tips for re-using materials in endlessly creative ways.

In the site’s own words:

“ReUse Connection sees ReUse as a much broader umbrella, including recycling, upcycling, some repurposing, etc. Our knowledge sharing purpose is to aid people in thinking outside the box. . .

At times, we focus on the “use” part of ReUse, seeing utility in items or materials otherwise destined for the landfill: for example, repurposing an item or material that has never been used or will never be used because it is expired or blemished.

While some of our content may not directly achieve the goal of reducing waste, our broader goal is to demonstrate what is possible and hopefully stimulate people to act on that imagination.

ReUse Connection aims to reduce waste and improve environmental health by:

1. providing knowledge sharing about ReUse, and

2. creating economic opportunity (with individuals, entrepreneurs, and corporations) by seeing value at the back end of the material stream.”

This is sustainability in action. They’re in the process of developing a website, and in the meantime have created a Facebook page that’s become a clearinghouse for ideas of all kinds.

A few of our recent favorites:

Beach bag made from mesh produce bags, courtesy the journals of giddy giddy


Striped cotton wrap around skirt size 6Y made of a man shirt, courtesy French Garderobe on Etsy

Tie bag from ReUse Picasa page

Ski rack idea/photo courtesy Orvis

Granted, some of the ideas may not appeal to everyone, but one of the things we most enjoy about the Facebook page is the give-and-take in the comments following the postings. Fans on this site aren’t shy about expressing their opinions on whether new ideas make the grade or not.

For more info on the genesis of ReUse Connection and its founder, Ian Moise, here’s an informative interview with him from the website Blue Planet, Green Living.

You may want to become a follower on this page; there’s certainly something new every day. Let us know if you try any of these ideas, or post your own!

A Walk Through Our Tallgrass Prairie

2 Jun

Kathy Larson, Frontier’s VP of Sustainability, took a walk through the tallgrass prairie at our Norway, Iowa headquarters with her camera in hand recently, and shares her experience and photos with us here. She’s agreed to return regularly (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it) to chronicle the prairie’s changes throughout the year.

With both a strong warm breeze out of the southeast and gathering clouds foreshadowing rain, I stroll out to the Frontier tallgrass prairie to see which plants are growing and which are blooming.

I notice many remnants of last year’s foliage, including tall stalks of compass plant and ironweed, which are the favorites of the redwing blackbirds. The birds perch atop the stalks to survey their territory and noisily warn away competitors — and they obviously consider me one.

Bunches of dried grasses, still standing tall throughout the landscape, hide much of the new plant growth, but it’s there. Many plants, like gentian and mondarda, are just starting to poke their heads out from the soil. Others, like the Maximillan sunflowers, are already nearly a foot tall, with last year’s flowering stalks rising from the center of the new green leaves.

The only prairie plant I can find that is flowering this early is Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), a member of the carrot family. The plants are just starting to bloom. When fully opened, their bright yellow clusters of flowers will provide a source of nectar for many types of bees, wasps and small butterflies. Golden Alexanders grows in moist prairies and abandoned fields and is scattered throughout the lower and wetter parts of our prairie.

Along the walking trail that circles the prairie, the dandelions are blooming with plenty of sunny yellow flowers — and almost as many fluffy seed heads, ready to be spread afar on the spring breezes.

I see that Frontier employees are not the only ones to walk the prairie trail. Tracks from pheasants and deer crisscross it too.

It’s a pleasure to walk across this vibrant and diverse prairie.

I’ll try to return often and share what I find there with you.

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