Organic Primer by the USDA

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.

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

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!

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.

Simply Organic Recipe App

Recipe apps are all the rage these days, with smartphones doing more and more to make our lives easier.

Simply Organic’s recipe app for the iPad® is a finalist in the 2011 “Best App Ever Awards,” and we’d love your help in voting for it as the winner by Jan. 25.

148Apps has selected Simply Organic’s app for iPad® as one of the top ten iOS recipe apps. The winner of the recipe category will be announced at the 2012 Macworld / iWorld Expo in San Francisco on January 26-28.

Simply Organic is the only organic brand in the category!

You can vote at www.simplyorganic.com or http://bit.ly/BestCookingApp.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with the app, here’s some quick info.

Available free from the iTunes® store, the app contains several key features with user-friendly functionality. They include:

  • Browse and search for more than 1,500 recipes, with an emphasis on organic ingredients.
  • Recipes are referenced by popular recipe collections, such as Healthy Kids, Vegetarian Main Dishes, Ethnic Cuisines.
  • Filter recipe searches by what you already have at home, by what ingredients are in season, or by a key word.
  • Weekly recipe ideas and coupons.
  • Customized note taking for future reference to save any changes made to cooking preparation, as well as any favorite wine pairings.
  • A “Give it a Spin” function that generates recipe suggestions randomly with a spin of the touch screen when you need inspiration.

And you can check off items on the recipe app as you shop —  no paper involved!

Simply Organic also adds an average of 10 new recipes twice per month. Those new recipes are automatically added for free and simply require the user to accept the new recipe download notice.

We’d love to hear if you’re using the app! And don’t forget to vote.

We thank you!

Our Segment from the Whole Foods Market® Whole Story Blog

As Marc Hamel and Ha Lam wrote in their recent blog post on the Whole Foods Market® Whole Story blog, “Frontier knows the quality of spices can make or break a recipe — just a dash of spice can make a world of difference. Frontier focuses on sourcing the best to ensure that home cooks and home bakers can perfect flavors in recipes when using spices.”

We do, indeed.

Here’s what happened when they paid us a visit, with our CEO Tony Bedard giving Martha Stewart a run for her money.

 

And here’s that recipe for the Sugar-Coated Gingerbread Twists.

The Whole Story blog gives you a fun behind-the-scenes look at some of Whole Foods’ suppliers, vendors and producers.

Please visit the Whole Story blog for more of our story.

Green is Good fm

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

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.

Spice Minute: Chef Jorge Pineda, Candle 79, New York City, NY

We recently stopped by Candle 79, NYC’s “premiere vegan oasis” to chat with Chef Jorge Pineda about why he uses Frontier spices.

Here’s what the rather camera-shy chef had to say.

 

Candle 79 is the sister restaurant of the famous Candle Cafe.

The Candle story began in 1984 when Bart Potenza purchased a  health food store and juice bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side which had a nightly ritual of lighting candles to bless the establishment. Bart renamed his place the Healthy Candle, and was later joined by Joy Pierson, a customer and friend.

Their dedication to the vegetarian movement combined with some luck (think lottery) has allowed them to grow into one of the power teams in New York’s restaurant industry.

More on Jorge, Bart, Joy and the team at Candle Cafe.

Homemade Salad Dressings

Today’s post is from Luann Alemao, a chef and health/wellness speaker we’ve worked with over the years. Luann hosts a TV show titled Get Fit, operates several Kids Culinary Camps and offers presentations to corporations on healthy eating.

Here, Luann offers a quick tutorial on making your own simple oil and vinegar dressings. 

Oil and vinegar don’t mix. I had heard that phrase while growing up, but as I attended food and nutrition courses and did my own experimentation in the kitchen, I recognized they are compatible on the salad plate.

When making basic vinaigrette keep in mind that it’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

From that point, the type of oil, the kind of vinegar and the choice of seasonings or add-ins are up to you.

Here are some basics.

EVOO, Virgin, Pure or Seasoned– these are referring most of the time to olive oils in recipes. Other oils, such as soy, almond, and avocado will make great vinaigrettes too and will offer a distinction of their own originality in your vinaigrette.

You can make fine vinaigrette in just a pint jar or a salad cruet; you just need a vessel to shake up the ingredients and create an emulsifier for a short duration anyway.

So let’s get started:

1) Olive oil is the typical choice of taste and rightly so, as it has a fresh taste and natural fruitiness. My second favorite is soy oil as it is clean and light and doesn’t add an oily taste to vinaigrettes.

Light and extra light refer to the color of the oil and not the caloric content – don’t be misled. Fats do have calories and so does olive oil at 120 calories per tablespoon. Experiment with different regional oils and you will notice the differences.

2) Next is the acid or the vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar is my favorite, with its sweeter aroma and sweeter taste. It is rich in color, has undergone a special aging process and may be cured 12-25 years. Vinegar, because of its strong acidic makeup, does not require refrigeration. Other vinegars such as flavored vinegars, apple cider or rice wine vinegar are great culinary choices as well. White distilled is too harsh and best used for cleaning purposes afterward.

3) The add-ins: The combinations you can create are endless. Some dried mustard or Dijon adds a savory flavor.  Don’t forget the garlic and seasonings. Beyond the salt and pepper you can flavor with basil, Italian herbs, ginger, cilantro or tarragon.

Use the zest from limes, oranges and lemons. They add a citrusy blend that is clean and fresh.

Don’t have vinegar? A lemon will work just as well. I personally use a lemon along with the balsamic vinegar as I like the aroma and the pungent taste it offers. Make sure you use some of the zest (the outside peel) for more flavor and aroma.

Making your own salad dressing is cheaper too. It costs just pennies per tablespoon and to buy will be 4-5 times more. Save and FLAV! What more could you want?

Here are some recipes for delicious vinaigrettes:

BERRY-GINGER VINAIGRETTE

½ cup of oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 squirt or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice from a real lemon

1 tablespoon berry preserves

2 Frontier crystallized ginger pieces

Shake in a tight container and serve over greens.

**********

HERBED SALAD VINAIGRETTE

6 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Frontier dry mustard

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of Frontier Italian Seasoning or Herbes de Provence

Fresh ground pepper

Shake in a tight container, let sit for about a ½ hour for flavors to macerate and pour over dark greens.

How do you use oils to make dressings?

Hudson Valley Seed Library

Have a look at a beautiful and creative endeavor: The Hudson Valley Seed Library.

In their own words, The Hudson Valley Seed Library strives to do two things:

  1. to create an accessible and affordable source of regionally-adapted seeds that is maintained by a community of caring farmers and gardeners; and,
  2. to create gift-quality seed packs featuring works designed by New York artists in order to celebrate the beauty of heirloom gardening.

Farmers Doug Muller and Ken Greene dreamed of creating an “accessible and affordable source of regionally-adapted seeds that is maintained by a community of caring gardeners.” Hence they formed a company that sells seeds from its own farm as well as those grown by other local farmers. Gardeners are encouraged to save and share their own seeds too.

If you’re a member of the seed library, you get discounts on seed packs and events, plus ten seed packs. Members also can return seeds to the seed library in exchange for a discount on next year’s membership. The seed library offers information on seed saving, classes and workshops.

In 2011, they expect to offer over 60 varieties of locally grown seed and around 100 varieties sourced from responsible seed houses. The company contracts with organic and certified naturally grown farmers in the Hudson Valley and upstate New York to grow new varieties. Most of their varieties are rooted in the history and soils of New York or are chosen because they do well in that zone, but of course they can be used in other zones as well.

They offer a  membership program to backyard gardeners who are interested in joining the cause.

The art on the seed packets is chosen from the submissions of over 70 artists. They’re from the Hudson Valley and New York City. As the website explains, artists range from “up-and-coming to world renowned. The diversity of the artwork reflects the many stories behind each variety and the genetic wonder that makes each plant unique.”

When the packets are folded, the main art piece ends up on the front, and the back is sealed with a sticker.

Viewing some of the packets is like a mini tour through an art gallery! Enjoy. (artist listed under the piece)


Art by Ayumi Horie.


Art by Lisa Perrin.


Art by Sarah Snow.


Paper silhouette by Diana Bryan.


Art by Barbara Bash.


Illustration by Arik Roper.


Painting and collage by Jacinta Bunnell.


Watercolor by Robert Morris.


Art by Christy Rupp.


Oil painting by Joan Lesikin.


Art by Sheryl Humphrey.


Photo/illustration by Michael Asbill.


Art by Allyson Levy.

Tuck one of these packages into a gift, or make a gift of an assortment.

A bonus with these fun seed packets is that when they’re empty, you can recycle them for wrapping small gifts like jewelry.

Please let us know about any seed libraries or seed saver groups in your area.