My organic living “Aha!” moment: Connecting micronutrients to organic food

By Charlynn Avery

My organic living “Aha!” moment was during my study of micronutrients for a holistic nutrition diploma.

The word “organic” has always been important to me. What is derived from living matter is organic – not only in the context of plants, but all life. Organic means authentic, real and alive.

Charlynn (1)

My conscious choice to live organically was an early moment in adulthood when I realized that I wanted to live a life that was authentic and real. I had already began surrounding myself with organic products and making choices that reflected that ideal. However, it wasn’t until I educated myself about the impact of organic living on my health and wellbeing that I made the shift to where I am today. Organic ceased being an idyllic word and became a life priority. Continue reading

Tea tree: There is more to you than people know

By Tim Blakley

I once swam in a lake that was such a dark red color that I couldn’t see my arms or legs. While striking, the reason for the color was perfectly natural – the lake was surrounded by trees with roots that reached into the water and released tannins that produced the distinct color. Often called Tea Tree Lake (it’s actual name is Lake Ainsworth), this unique body of water is located in eastern Australia, where tea tree plants grow wild.

Tea tree essential oil has been popular for several decades here in North America, and even longer in Australia. The best-known species, Melaleuca alternifolia, became popular in part because it grows abundantly in the populated areas of eastern Australia.

lemon tea tree

Tim with lemon tea tree.

Although most consumers are aware of just the one species, Melaleuca alternifolia, there are 300 species of tea tree that grow throughout Australia and New Zealand. At least a dozen of these are in commercial use today, and several more are on their way to the marketplace. My two “new” favorites are Aura Cacia Lavender Tea Tree, Melaleuca ericifolia, and Aura Cacia Lemon Tea Tree, Leptospermum petersonii. When I first “discovered” the plants used to make these oils while visiting one of our farmers in Australia, I immediately fell in love with them for their unique qualities and great potential.

What’s to love about lavender tea tree

Standing less than 10 feet tall, lavender tea tree, sometimes called Rosalina, is a smaller plant than Melaleuca alternifolia and is presently cultivated on a fairly small scale. The aroma of traditional tea tree doesn’t appeal to everyone, so lavender tea tree is a much better-smelling alternative! While this oil contains similar constituents you’d find in Aura Cacia Lavender and Aura Cacia Tea Tree, it is a single-botanical oil with unique constituents that you won’t find in a blend.  Continue reading

My organic living “Aha!” moment: Discovering the power of good food

By Kailee Meskimen 

My organic living “Aha!” moment was when I lost 50 pounds.

organic living

Many things have altered my life, but none quite like food. Yes, food. As a young girl, raised on canned veggies, frozen meat and TV dinners, I never assumed food was the enemy or worried about what was in it. In college, my diet consisted of everyone’s favorites: Ramen noodles, cereal and frozen pizza. After all, food is food, right?

Although I remained fairly active and was somewhat health conscious throughout college, I noticed my clothes were becoming snug and my confidence was plummeting. A few years later, I got married. I knew no matter what I looked like, my husband would always, always love me, but I was at my highest weight ever. What had happened to me? Continue reading

Soak up the sun: Natural skin care recipes for summer

outdoor essential oil recipes

By Charlynn Avery

When I think of summer, I am filled with visions of time spent outdoors enjoying the warm weather. It is very much in our nature to move our lives outside to soak up the sun like the plants that are heavily in bloom. But along with the fun and days full of sunshine, summer brings a variety of issues that we all face as we expose our skin to the outdoors.

To keep skin healthy, glowing and protected – consider using essential oils and natural skin care oils to care for your skin.  Some ways to incorporate essential oils in your summer skin routine: Continue reading

Clean up your environment pre-baby with homemade cleaning products and more

By Tom Havran

Bringing a baby into the world often sparks a fundamental lifestyle reset for caring and conscientious parents. In an effort to create the safest, most nurturing environment for the new arrival, we start paying attention to everything in our home environment, from the food we eat, to the body care products we use, to the household products we clean with.

Here’s a short list of tips to detox your life and create a healthy, safe environment for your baby pre- and post-arrival:

Clean up your cleaning routine. Babies and the whole family need clean air and clean surroundings in the home if they’re going to thrive. One way to help ensure this is to switch to natural products for cleaning, laundry and dishwashing — or make your own homemade cleaning products.

Eat organic. Pregnancy is an important time to think carefully about your nutrition and the quality of every bite you take. You don’t have to make all the changes alone — consider switching your whole growing family’s diet to organic food, which will go a long way toward keeping pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and genetically modified foodstuffs out of your food supply. It’s not always possible to eat a 100 percent organic diet, so in such cases, concentrate on whole, unprocessed and locally grown foods and produce. Consult the Environmental Working Group’s periodic posting of the cleanest and dirtiest produce (in terms of pesticide residue), and make certain that you thoroughly wash fresh produce with a natural commercial wash. Or make your own natural wash with this recipe: Continue reading

6 natural, DIY Mother’s Day gift ideas

AC Mothers Day Gift Guide Blog Header

By Alan Miles

Looking for a fun DIY Mother’s Day idea for a mom who would appreciate a natural gift? Here are six ways to make mom happy — with specific recipes and ideas for each.

1. Give her flowers.

Essential oils can capture the entrancing scent of flowers and keep them available for a long, long time. Give Mom a “bouquet” of roses with a basket of Rose Absolute or Rose Otto Precious Essentials ™, rosehip oilrosehips tea and dried rose sachet. If she prefers the relaxing scent of lavender, fill her basket with lavender essential oillavender foam bath and dried lavender sachet.

How about some flowers to drink? If Mom’s a tea drinker, you’ll delight her with a selection of flower teas such as hibiscuscalendulachamomile and jasmine.

gluten free lemon poppy seed scones

2. Treat her with sweets.

Sweets have a good reputation for expressing love. DIY treats are especially “sweet” — try whipping up one of these special baking recipes for her:

  • Mom probably tried to sneak some natural nutrition into your snacks when you were little. Now you can return the favor by making some Sneaky Blueberry Muffins for Mother’s Day. There’s some unexpected nourishment from vegetable or fruit puree worked into the recipe.
  • If your mom is one of the growing number of people who is committed to or exploring gluten-free eating, these Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Scones (pictured above) will be the perfect treat to celebrate the day.
  • Another take on that tantalizing lemon-poppy seed flavor is the Czech pastry, the kolache. A little baking experience is helpful for making our Lemon Poppy Seed Kolaches, but the results are authentically delicious!
  • Your “sweets for the sweet” theme doesn’t have to involve a caloric intake. This cocoa butter-based Chocolate Body Butter recipe will nourish Mom’s skin and fill the air with a delightful floral-sweet and chocolatey aroma.

Continue reading

How to make a house a home with aromatherapy

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

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

Kathy Larson: An essential Frontier ingredient

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

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