Tag Archives: Sustainability

6 ways to continue your Earth Day celebration every day

4 Apr

By Katie Shatzer

From Thanksgiving to National Margarita Day, the meaning of a holiday is different for each of us. This is true for Earth Day (which is Monday, April 22, by the way): For some, it’s a celebration of the planet we inhabit; for others, it’s a yearly wake-up call that we are rapidly destroying it. Either way, we’ve found six ways to incorporate love for the Earth into your everyday activities.

1. Buy in bulk. Frontier is a member of the Bulk Is Green Council, which exists to educate consumers on the environmental and financial benefits of buying bulk foods. Take the council’s Earth Month pledge to buy bulk food once a week throughout April. By the end of the month, you’ll probably want to make it a habit!

Frontier tallgrass prairie

Frontier tallgrass prairie in Norway, Iowa in mid-summer.

2. Spend time outside. Wandering around in places like our tallgrass prairie gives you a greater appreciation for nature and more motivation to protect it. Continue reading

Creating a Sustainable Future for Sandalwood

30 Nov

By Tim Blakley, Aura Cacia aromatherapist/educator

Image

Tim visiting Aura Cacia’s sandalwood supplier in Australia

I recently attended the International Sandalwood Synopsis in Honolulu to discuss the future of one of my favorite oils – sandalwood. This was the first conference on sandalwood in over 20 years.

The story behind the conference began about 18 months ago, when someone approached me at a trade show with a bottle of sandalwood essential oil made from Hawaiian sandalwood. I was a bit surprised, as Hawaii has a brutal history regarding sandalwood (massive exploitation between 1810 and 1830 resulted in a near elimination of the species in all but the most remote parts of the islands), and I had no idea anyone was harvesting it today. With the supplier’s permission, I visited the land where the wood was being harvested. Continue reading

Green is Good fm

28 Nov

For those of you looking for new ways to be sustainable and new ways to make a difference, green-wise: Meet “Green is Good” Radio.

Each week “Green is Good,” hosted by Electronic Recyclers International’s John Shegerian and Mike Brady, features people and organizations that are making a green difference. John and Mike discuss sustainability practices, environmental issues, recycling, reuse and more with some of the green world’s influential people. Read more about John and Mike here.

The show is broadcast weekly on Clear Channel Radio Network, and you can listen online. “Green is Good” offers advice, suggestions, information and solutions from green experts. Recent guests have included Andy Perlmutter ofBetter World Books and urban homesteader Sundari Kraft. The website has an easily accessible archive, so you can browse through topics and listen to past shows.

Speaking of past shows, here’s one for you now! Our own Clint Landis recently spoke with John and Mike about all things bulk, including the mission of the Bulk is Green Council.

As Clint says, “There are a number of things people don’t understand about buying in bulk, and it’s because they haven’t done it yet. Everything from saving packaging to saving money — with the economy the way it is, who doesn’t need to save money? Bulk is a phenomenal way to save.”

Please enjoy the segment, and let us know if you have any thoughts to add.

Click here to listen.

Organic Argan Oil, Sustainably Sourced from Morocco

17 Nov

Maybe you’ve noticed lots of press lately about argan oil. If you’ve not discovered it yet, here’s an introduction.

Argan oil contains high levels of skin rejuvenating essential fatty acids and is great for moisturizing and nourishing the skin. Argan is sustainably sourced from the nuts of a native desert tree in Morocco and is valued for the protection it offers from the dry desert atmosphere of North Africa.

Frontier’s aromatherapy brand Aura Cacia® is proud to be sourcing their quality organic argan oil from women’s cooperatives in Morocco. Through their purchasing efforts they are able to make an impact in the lives of these women and their families.

The Atlas mountain range, home of the mountain of Toubkal, is so populated with argan trees that it is commonly referred to as “Argana.” Aura Cacia® team members Tim Blakley, Jennifer Ferring and Jane Merten traveled to this region in May 2011 to meet some of the producers of their organic argan oil.

Take a look:

On this trip, they met Fatima, the leader and co-founder of one particular co-op. She lost her husband years ago, leaving her with two young sons and significant debt. She came across a woman named H’Maidouch trying to sell her argan oil in the market. Fatima bought the oil from H’Maidouch so that she could use it to exchange for kitchen staples such as flour and bread. This experience gave Fatima the idea to start the co-op. With some help from government grants the two women were able to open Afoulki-Amskroud Cooperative in 2004.

Here are some quick facts about the Afoulki-Amskroud Cooperative.

  • The cooperative produces around 10 tons of argan oil each year.
  • Their yield is around 1 kg of argan oil from 2.5 kg of seeds.
  • The cooperative employs 80 women, and each of them produce around 3 kg of argan seeds each day. Many choose to work part-time. The women share in the profits based on the amounts they produce.
  • Afoulki-Amskroud is one of 11 women’s co-ops in the “Argana” area, and one of the 600 across all of Morocco.

More on Aura Cacia’s organic Moroccan argan oil.

Do you use argan oil? Tell us how.

An Adventure in California

6 Nov

Some of our marketers had quite the adventure on their way to product development meetings in San Francisco last week.

Follow along with them as they’re treated to some very special hospitality by one of the pioneering local/organic chefs in the Bay Area, restaurateur and cookbook author Jesse Ziff Cool. Jesse has traveled the world meeting farmers, chefs, shop keepers and families, seeking and enjoying local and sustainable foods and traditions along the way.

We met Jesse at an Expo event, and have maintained a friendship and mutual admiration ever since. We’re also fans of her cookbook, Simply Organic.

She invited our group of marketers — Kory, Brian, Clint and Brett, to visit her at her beautiful home and one of her restaurants while they were in the area.

First stop was Jesse’s beautiful home. Kory and Brian posed for a photo in front of the house. Note the CoolEatz license plate – the name of Jesse’s restaurant and catering company.

Inside, Jesse graciously treated the group to some delicious appetizers featuring our herbs and spices.

Jesse has served a colorful array of guests in her home. Her neighbors include some of the most famous names in Silicon Valley. Here, Clint and Brett decide to reenact Steve Jobs and Bill Gates’ visit to Jesse’s house, since they were sitting at the same table.

Jesse spontaneously showed off the contents of her spice drawer. Very impressive!

She then hosted a tour of the grounds, including her garden and chicken coop.

The group then moved on to one of Jesse’s restaurants, the Flea Street Café in Menlo Park. From left, Brett, Clint, Jesse and Kory.

The Flea Street Café menu features fresh organic local and seasonal foods. Menu items range from superb salads to elegant entrees.

The crab cakes – beautiful presentation and delicious, by all accounts.

Jesse truly believes that sustainable cuisine links together people, ingredients, respect for the environment and culinary traditions.

Our group certainly enjoyed her demonstration of living these principles on a daily basis.

Thanks again, Jesse!

An Inside Look at the LEED Silver Certified Frontier Natural Products Co-op Headquarters

4 Oct

As we told you in an earlier post, Frontier Co-op achieved LEED silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the renovation of their original warehouse in 2010.

Areas considered in this certification are energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as a variety of other sustainable practices. By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

Here’s a video that provides a visual of these upgrades and practices — and gives you an inside look at our headquarters.

Sustainable Lodging at Inn by the Sea: Cape Elizabeth, Maine

16 Sep

We’ve been on a little travel break from blogging! One was a personal vacation trip and one was a business trip.

We’d like to share some links today about a place we came across that impressed us with their commitment to some of the same principles that guide us at Frontier.

We traveled to Maine for a relaxing weekend at a beautiful place called Inn by the Sea, on Cape Elizabeth along the southern coast near Portland.

The Inn is a designated wildlife habitat, one of the first hotels certified by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection as a “Green Lodging.”

They successfully blend luxury and service with sustainability, minimizing the impact of hotel operations with of eco friendly initiatives and an appreciation of all things local.

Guests are surrounded by an indigenous garden which provides food and habitat for wildlife, and rooms are cleaned with non-toxic products. Room amenities are natural, in recycled bottles and displayed on recycled glass trays. The sheet and towel program helps protect the endangered monarch butterfly. They recycle and use post consumer paper products. The cardio room has recycled rubber floors, the spa has recycled sheet rock walls and bamboo towels, and the  Inn is heated with biofuel and the pool with solar panels. The Inn also recognizes the value of the community by supporting local charities.

The Inn offers classes to guests to pass on the eco-friendly message. Weekly seminars and garden tours are offered on the Inn’s 5 acres of indigenous seaside gardens, teaching guests how to plant for wildlife. The Inn helps environmentally-conscious couples plan unique White weddings in green and, for the corporate traveler, responsible green meetings. You can read more about the Inn by the Sea’s green initiatives here.

At the hotel’s restaurant, Sea Glass, Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich specializes in creating dishes featuring Maine’s local bounty – both seafood and seasonal produce sourced from local farms.

Here’s one of his favorite recipes using local ingredients that you’re sure to find nearby as well.

RED WINE & OLIVE BUTTER COMPOUND

2 c red wine

2 ea peeled shallots, minced

4 ea fresh thyme sprigs

2 ea fresh bay leaves

4 lbs unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 c balsamic vinegar

1 c pitted Kalamata olives (reserve brine)

Combine red wine, minced shallots, thyme and bay Leaves in a large sauce pan.  Reduce to half and discard the herbs.  Put butter in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and add the red wine reduction.  Whip until combined.

In the meantime, use a food processor to puree the Kalamata olives and balsamic vinegar using some of the olive bring.  Once pureed, add to the whipped butter in the stand mixer and whip until the liquids are combined into the soft butter.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let us know what seasonal produce is making an appearance on your table right now!

College Campuses Ban Bottled Water

6 Sep

Water has been playing a role in some recent weather disasters like Hurricane Irene and tropical storms in the southern United States. It’s no wonder it’s on our minds a lot lately.

It’s time to pay attention to where you get your water. In emergencies, of course, a bottle of water can be a lifesaver. But on a daily basis, a bottle of water is an expensive, environmentally destructive and potentially dangerous object.

Here are a few reasons:

  • It takes 17 million barrels of oil per year to make all the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. alone. That’s enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
  • In 2007, Americans consumed over 50 billion single serve bottles of water; between 30 and 40 million single serve bottles went into landfills each year.
  • The United State FDA describes bottled water in this way: “Bottled water is water that is intended for human consumption and that is sealed in bottles or other containers with no added ingredients except that it may optionally contain safe and suitable antimicrobial agents. Fluoride may be optionally added within the limitations established.”

Source: http://www.banthebottle.net/

There are many sides of this issue – pro and con. Let’s focus on the sustainability issue presented by the bottles in the landfill and the oil used to make these bottles we’re throwing away. The simple fix is to stop using them. Who better than students to take the lead in finding ways to make this happen?

College students at two Minnesota schools have joined nine other colleges in the US in banning plastic water bottles on campus.  This fall, the College of St. Benedict recently became the first school in the state — and the ninth in the nation — to ban the sale and purchase of plain bottled water on campus. Macalester College adopted a similar policy.

Many cities, including San Francisco and New York, have banned purchases of bottles of water using city money. Others may ban it from being sold within city limits. Chicago has begun taxing bottled water sales.

Hundreds of websites, including the one listed above, will give you more background information on this growing problem in the US – including which brands of bottled water are from a municipal water supply and which are from an authentic mountain spring.

You might want to take a look at your own consumption of bottled water.

Share your thoughts.

Do you drink it?

What kind do you buy?

Do you think it should be banned everywhere?

Do you have ideas on how to solve the problem of waste and expense?

Please weigh in!

Happy 10th Anniversary to Our Simply Organic Brand

9 Aug

Please take a moment and enjoy our newest video, which highlights some major milestones of one of our brands at Frontier, Simply Organic.

Coinciding with the celebration of its 10th anniversary, Simply Organic® has surpassed the half-million-dollar contribution mark through a recent donation made to the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).

Simply Organic’s One Percent Fund – SO1% – takes 1 percent of net sales on all Simply Organic spices, seasoning mixes, baking flavors/extracts, and baking mixes, and uses it to support organic agriculture through education, research, and grower development.

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.

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