Posted by|03 July 2014
Jennifer Gerrity, our Executive Director of Operations, just returned from the Ginseng Summit hosted by the United Plant Savers. This summit was held at the gorgeous Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary, bringing growers, buyers, and researchers together to learn more about threats to wild ginseng populations while developing strategies for conserving this precious medicinal.
More about this exciting trip to come…
Posted by|02 July 2014
Our very own Shawn Donnille, Vice President and co-owner of Mountain Rose Herbs, was recently honored by one of our beloved non-profit partners for his leadership and service! Shawn, former President of Beyond Toxics’ Board of Directors, was completely surprised when they presented him with the Visionary Leadership award at the Bee-Fest Celebration!
In true form, Beyond Toxics threw a fabulous party filled with live music, sweet treats, face painting, and of course chilled Hibiscus High Tea. Eugene, Oregon is gaining recognition as the most bee-friendly city in the U.S. for our work protecting pollinators and specifically for passing a resolution to ban neonicotinoids pesticide application on city property. We are proud to live and work in a city leading the way to fight colony collapse and protect our food system.
Mountain Rose is a long-time supporter of Beyond Toxics. We support their mission through charitable giving, disseminating literature, in-kind donations, and employee volunteer projects. Annually, we remove invasive plants by hand to maintain a no-spray corridor along a scenic roadway in Oregon. Read about our Fall Weed Pull project last year: http://mountainroseblog.com/pullingfallweeds/
“Beyond Toxics represents the finest culmination of hard-working individuals that produce the results we can all live by. Our industry, livelihoods, and communities are dependent upon a healthy landscape, and our prospects would be very bleak indeed if we did not have the steadfast commitment of Beyond Toxics.” - Shawn Donnille
Get Involved with Beyond Toxics!
Learn about other Organizations We Support!
Posted by|30 June 2014
We’ve all witnessed the deodorant revolution happen over the past few years. From over-the-top chemical infused sticks to ruin-your-blouse white stuff, finding a healthy and practical alternative can be a challenge. I’ve tried them all and even gone without for many years. Most of the time I don’t need it, but occasionally I like to go on multiple day hiking trips or enjoy the local music scene in small, warm venues. So, I experimented with lots of other recipes to create a formula that works perfectly for my needs.
This isn’t the normal wipe it on deodorant! The ingredients in this recipe, such as the cocoa butter and shea butter, will melt easily with body temperature, while maintaining a solid form in the tin throughout the day. I push a little pea sized chunk off with my finger and rub it into my underarm just like I would body lotion. Once you see how easy it is to make, you might just go a little deodorant wild like me, mixing in your favorite essential oils for a personalized scent treat!
All-Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipe
Makes two 2oz tins
Organic Essential Oils
25-40 drops total
1. In a pyrex measuring glass, combine Cocoa Butter and Shea butter.
2. Using a double boiler, heat over low-medium until butters are melted.
3. Remove from heat and stir in Arrowroot Powder and Baking Soda.
4. Stir in Vitamin E Oil and your desired essential oil blend.
5. Carefully pour into 2 oz tins, filling to the top, but making sure not to spill over.
6. Place lids on containers without pressing down to lock. Just let them sort of sit on top to help prevent dust from settling in your deodorant while it sets.
7. Allow to completely cool and solidify, this can take 6+ hours. I usually let them sit overnight.
Enjoy! And remember, deodorant works best if applied before you are active!
Posted by|29 June 2014
Being in tune with the seasons can mean looking to our surroundings for inspiration when it comes to the food on our plates, the activities we do, and even the beverages we drink. As the fields get full and high with grasses, flowers, and nourishing medicinal plants, I feel an urge to create a tea of those fragrant, nutritional offerings.
This tea is packed with vitamins, beta-carotene, and antioxidants, not to mention the delicious flavors of an earthy summer day…
Field & Flower Tea
1 teaspoon organic Alfalfa Leaf
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon chips (Cassia or Sweet)
1 teaspoon organic Red Clover
1 teaspoon organic Heather flowers
1 teaspoon organic Marshmallow Root
This is best as a hot tea. Mix all the herbs in an infuser, strainer, tea nest, or filter and pour boiling water over. Let steep for 4-5 minutes. Add honey, milk and/or lemon if desired. Enjoy!
Posted by|27 June 2014
Dearest customers, friends, and herb folks,
We are over the moon excited to share our newly designed website with you! A long while in the making, it is truly a love letter from us to the organic botanical products we grow, craft, and offer to the community. Herbs help sustain wellbeing for so many and we are just elated to honor and celebrate their powerful presence in our lives with this lovely new site.
Happily introducing the new…
Beautiful photos, easier navigation, and new features make strolling through our herbal goodies a more efficient experience, and hopefully more inspiring too!
Pour a cup of tea and take a look around!
Posted by|26 June 2014
Last week, a team of four Mountain Rose employees put their hands to work removing invasive plants that were taking over the habitat behind our building as part of the Mountain Rose River Project. We cleared out Scotch Broom, Teasel, and Blackberries.
While cleaning up the area of invasive weeds, we discovered this humble little home nestled amongst some bushes. So sweet! We were careful not to disturb the birdies-to-be, and pesky weeds or not, if it’s home to Northern Mockingbirds, it stays for now!
Posted by|23 June 2014
Well, we’re hitting high garden season now! For those of us who grow our own herbs, that means finding a way to preserve at least some of that mid-summer herbal goodness for future use. I dry some of my own herbs to use in teas, infused oils, as culinary additions, and, in the case of some of our hops vines, for the sheer pleasure of decoration! In my garden, I grow comfrey, lemon balm, various oregano and thyme varieties, chamomile, fennel, calendula, sage, rosemary, lavender, hyssop, and all sorts of mints (just to name a few of my favorites), and all of these are quite easy to dry and preserve for recipes, soaps, infused oils, and even dried bouquets. Plus, you don’t need to have any fancy equipment for herb drying – it’s so simple!
Method: Air Drying
The general guideline is to harvest herbs just before the flowers open. I confess I don’t always follow that rule because one of the big reasons I grow many of these wonderful plants is for the bees and pollinators. I might pull a few leaves off a comfrey plant, or use fresh herbs in cooking, tea, and other beverages, but I also love to see the flowers bloom – and my honeybees do too. Additionally, there are some plants, like chamomile and calendula, where the flowers are the most desired part of the plant, where other herbs like fennel and dill, produce aromatic seeds you’ll want to save. For these, you’ll harvest the flower heads after the seeds form.
I like to choose strong stems with healthy, intact leaves for drying. In most cases, I don’t even need to wash the cuttings since I keep an organic garden and don’t have dogs roaming around where the edibles grow. You can definitely give the herbs a wash in cool water prior to drying, just be sure to gently shake off the excess moisture, and remove any wilted leaves, spots, insects, or other unsavory elements.
I find air drying to be the easiest method and this can be accomplished in a few different ways. For plants with tiny leaves like thyme and oregano, I like to lay the stems out on paper towels or a flattened piece of brown paper bag. Some folks like to put a clean tea or kitchen towel on a drying rack (like one used for cooling fresh-baked cookies) and lay the herbs out there. This is best done when the weather is warm and dry. Once the herbs are completely dry, strip the leaves from the stem by sliding your thumb and forefinger along the stem from top to bottom (working against the natural upwards bending of the leaves helps them come right off) and gather them together in a sealed container.
For plants with large or feathery leaves (like dill and fennel), air drying in bundles can work very well. I gather several stalks together and use a rubber band to hold them at the base. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight, like in a garage, shed, basement, etc. Wire, hemp twine, paper clips, and even clothes pins work great for hanging these bundles. You’ll just want to make sure that the air can circulate around them and they aren’t likely to get exposed to moisture or bugs. It is important to not make the bundles too big as this will make for longer, less efficient drying, and can lead to rot or mold issues.
Method: Drying with Heat
Other methods of drying herbs include using a heat source like an oven or an electric dehydrator. When using an oven, you’ll want to strip the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Turn the oven on to the very lowest setting and keep a close eye on the herbs while they are drying to make sure they don’t dry too quickly, become crisp, or stick to the pans. For an electric dehydrator, be sure to read the directions that come with your dehydrator for tips on drying times, how to place the leaves in the trays, and temperature suggestions.
For drying herbs with seed heads (like fennel or dill), I like to put a paper or plastic bag over the heads and tie this around the stalks so any seeds that fall will be caught in the bag. You can also dry your herbs outside if you live in a dry climate, but keep in mind that the direct sunlight can fade the colors and extreme warmth can damage some of the vibrancy. Either way, you’ll want to bring the herbs indoors when they are thoroughly dry.
How to Store Dried Herbs & Spices
After the herbs are thoroughly dried, it is important to store them properly to preserve taste and quality. I like to keep dried herbs in clean glass jars with lids or spice jars with corks or shaker tops. You could just as easily keep them in plastic jars or sealed plastic bags. For long-term preservation, the herbs can be frozen in this dried state too. You’ll want to make sure to avoid temperature fluctuations and exposure to light. I try to use up all of my home-dried herbs within a year. If I get my timing just right, I’m using the last of the dried herbs when the plants start growing again!
For more great information on growing and using fresh and dried herbs, check out the following:
Posted by|22 June 2014
Midsummer…longest day of the year…shortest night…however you think of this time of the season, the Summer Solstice is a delightful way to celebrate the fullness and abundance of the summer! When my kids were small and we lived in the Midwest, we’d celebrate the Solstice with an evening picnic and I’d let them stay up, chase fireflies, search for fairies, and experience a magical night. Since they grew up with a gardener for a mom, they thought nothing of pulling off leaves of lemon balm, mint, and rose petals to munch or to use in their own childish versions of “tea” made by muddling fresh herbs in a pot and covering them with water.
While my kids are all grown now, the Summer Solstice brings back a flood of magical memories and all of them seem to be centered around the delight of a garden at night. As you commemorate this annual passage of time, here’s a simple recipe for a tea that is delicious served hot or cold. It takes advantage of the garden’s offerings at this very time of year. Add a little sparkling wine or champagne and you’ve got a memorable grown-up beverage too!
Magical Summer Solstice Tea
1 Tablespoon organic Rose Petals, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Spearmint, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Lemongrass, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Lemon Balm, fresh or dried
Combine all the herbs in a tea infuser or tea bag. Bring water to a boil and pour 2 cups over herbs and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain and serve. This makes enough for two cups of tea, but feel free to multiply for a larger pot or a pitcher of iced tea (for iced tea, brew and then let chill). Add a splash or two of blubbly, if desired and garnish with fresh herbs.
Posted by|20 June 2014
Feeling inspired by the herbal bounty of summer? We sure are!
We’ve been out in the green world formulating recipes while the sun shines, soaking up inspiration from the unfurling leaves, fragrant flowers, and spreading roots this season brings. So, we want to know…what are you making? Salves, lip balms, tinctures, teas? Let’s share our herbal wisdom!
Pop on over to Instagram and post photos of the herbal recipes you’ve been creating for a chance to win $100 gift certificate from Mountain Rose Herbs!
Be sure to use #herbalsummercontest to enter. A winner will be announced on July 6th!
Find us on Instagram: http://instagram.com/
Posted by|19 June 2014
Photos from our very first Pop-Up Shop are here!
It was so much fun to create an herbal experience for our Eugene neighbors with free organic tea, raffles, and a whole lot of organic goodies to take home.
You can view all of the photos from this special event on our Facebook page!
Posted by|18 June 2014
We are so excited to have a guest post by Brian McFarland of Carbonfund.org featuring the Purus Project in the Amazon! Because we source our organic acai berry powder, catuaba bark, pau d’arco bark, and other products from Brazil, we understand its global ecological importance as a carbon sequestration area for the world.
Since 2011, Mountain Rose Herbs has worked with Carbonfund.org to offset our company-wide carbon dioxide emissions and help fight climate change. We wholeheartedly support their mission to reduce what you can, offset what you can’t! Every year, we calculate our carbon footprint by accounting for the electricity and heating fuels we use in production, and estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of our business travel. Find out more about what you can do to reduce and offset your carbon footprint as an individual or business!
Tropical deforestation is a global problem. It is responsible for approximately 15-20% of the human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, reduces habitat availability for a tremendous amount of biodiversity, and further threatens the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. With this in mind, only 2% of the world’s total surface area is home to rainforests, yet these ecosystems are home to 50% of the world’s plants and animals. Shockingly, according to The Nature Conservancy, “every second, a slice of rainforest the size of a football field is mowed down. That’s 86,400 football fields of rainforest per day, or over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year.”
Because of the support of our generous donors including Mountain Rose Herbs, the Carbonfund.org Foundation created its wholly-owned subsidiary, CarbonCo, to design, finance, implement, and manage large-scale forest conservation projects. Our projects help mitigate this trend of tropical deforestation while also preserving precious rainforest habitat and providing alternative economic opportunities for local communities. These projects, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects, are essentially payment for ecosystem service projects which rely on the sale of verified emission reductions (VERs), commonly known as carbon offset credits.
As of today, CarbonCo has several REDD+ projects in the Western State of Acre, Brazil which are protecting more than 700,000 acres. To help visualize how large these projects are, consider that 700,000 acres is the equivalent to approximately 1,100 square miles. This is almost as large as the entire state of Rhode Island (1,545 square miles), about the size of the urban area of Paris, France (1,098 square miles) and more than twice the size of New York City (470 square miles).
The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Purus River in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Purus Project. This forest conservation project covers approximately 85,714 acres and achieved validation and verification to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and to the Gold Level of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) for the Project’s exception biodiversity benefits.
The Purus Project is located within one of the World Wildlife Fund’s ecoregions which represent “the most distinctive examples of biodiversity for a given major habitat type.” The Project achieved exceptional biodiversity benefits because during a rapid biodiversity assessment from August to September 2009, at least two endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List were identified at the Purus Project. These endangered flora species are Car-cara (Aniba rosaeodora) and Baboonwood (Virola surinamensis).
Anecdotal observations of biodiversity on or next to the Purus Project include:
Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis)
Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus L.)
Great White Herons (Ardea alba)
One of the ways the Purus Project monitors biodiversity is by using motion-sensitive cameras to photograph medium-to-large mammals. The motion-sensitive cameras took pictures of a short-eared dog and a jaguar, both considered near threatened by the IUCN Red List. Also captured by the motion-sensitive cameras, are photos of a giant anteater and a lowland tapir, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Other wildlife photographed include a puma, otherwise known as a mountain lion, along with an ocelot. Furthermore, the photograph of the short-eared dog is only the second photograph ever taken of a short-eared dog in the State of Acre!
Carbon offset credits at work!
About Brian McFarland
Brian McFarland is the Director of Carbon Projects and Origination for Carbonfund.org and CarbonCo.
At Carbonfund.org, Brian identifies climate change mitigation projects in the energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry sectors, conducts due diligence on such projects, and then structures the financial support and manages the project portfolio. This project portfolio includes approximately 75 tree planting and carbon reduction projects across 30+ US states and 15+ countries. At CarbonCo, Brian identifies early stage forest conservation projects and then designs, finances, and implements the origination of REDD+ projects including co-authoring more than 1,000 pages of project documents.
Photos courtesy of Brian McFarland.
Posted by|17 June 2014
If you love the sun as much as I do, you’ve probably been scouring the natural foods stores for the best natural sun protection out there. I worked at a grocery co-op for a while and even though we had the best products on the market for happy healthy skin with minimal additives, I’ve still always wanted to go a little further.
I’ve spent the last couple of months perfecting a sunscreen recipe, and have finally created one that I’m happy to share with friends and family. For this recipe I combined all of my favorite skin-loving ingredients and combined it with the known protection of a small amount of zinc oxide (non-nano) for a super protective and perfectly nourishing sun screen.
Right now is also the perfect time of year to utilize the powerful sun for infusing oils. This is a great way to add the healing properties of herbs to a body care recipe. I like to keep a bottle of calendula infused olive oil and lavender infused olive oil around, because I know I use them in SO many recipes. For this one, I used half calendula infused olive oil and half lavender infused olive oil. If you want a shortcut, you can purchase calendula infused oil here and use it alone for the recipe.
Herbs for Healthy Skin
Known for its anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties. Slightly astringent and antiseptic.
Lavender is a calming and relaxing herb. It is antispasmodic, antiseptic, and used to relieve sunburns, insect bites, cuts, blemishes, and muscular aches. A classic healing herb for skin – especially minor burns.
Aloe helps to both moisturize the skin while being mildly astringent to draw out heat. It is soothing and helps relieve irritation from sunburn, minor skin burns, rashes, and insect bites.
Neem oil is a rich and thick (you may need to heat it in warm water to use it) golden brown base oil with a strong and nutty aroma. Neem oil is derived from pressed neem tree nuts and has antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Neem also has a low natural SPF which will help protect your skin!
Sesame oil comes from pressed sesame seeds. Sesame oil is an antioxidant base oil and is a source of vitamins A and E and protein. Sesame oil has a long shelf life and also has a low natural SPF.
Coconut oil is a great ingredient for lip balms, lotions, deodorants, and is known as the ultimate skin softener. Makes a great after-sun treatment.
Derived from the first pressing of ripe olives with beneficial vitamins and minerals. It is a great oil for infusing herbs, although in body care it is best used lightly unless you enjoy the aroma. In this recipe, you won’t be able to smell it in the end.
Beeswax is used as a thickener in recipes for creams, lotion, salves, butters and balms. It also adds a lightly protective barrier to the skin. If you desire a vegan recipe, you could replace it with carnauba wax.
Cocoa butter smells heavenly! Cocoa butter is hard at room temperature but easily melts at body temperature. This will help keep your final product solid until you rub it on. Great before, during, and after sun!
Derived from pressed shea nuts, this butter is a cream-colored soft substance with a strong nutty fragrance. Shea butter is a highly emollient, skin softening additive that’s great for lotions and creams, as well as body balms and nail care.
Lavender Essential Oil contains all of the amazing healing power of lavender flowers, but concentrated into a highly aromatic and therapeutic oil. A few drops go a long way, so I use this oil both as a soothing agent and for fragrance since it blends deliciously with the scent of the cacao and shea butter.
DIY Herbal Sunscreen Recipe
1/8 cup organic Calendula or organic Lavender infused oil (Jojoba, Grapeseed, or Olive Oil)
1/8 cup Aloe Vera Gel
1/8 cup organic Neem Oil
1/8 cup organic Sesame Oil
1/8 cup organic Coconut Oil
1/8 cup Beeswax Pastilles
1/8 cup organic Cocoa Butter or 10 wafers
1/8 cup organic Shea Butter
40 drops organic Lavender essential oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
2 Tbsp Zinc Oxide (non-micro) – I found mine online.
If you don’t want to add Zinc Oxide, that’s totally fine. Simply omit it and you will have a lovely lotion great for the skin with a low natural protection around 5 SPF. If you go this route, it will be important to test out how the protection works for you with short exposures. Use multiple applications!
These tins work perfectly to store your natural sun block. I used one 4 oz tin and two small 1 oz tins.
When making body care products that include oils and butters and other ingredients, I always melt my butters first. You can do this using a double boiler over medium heat.
1. In a Pyrex bowl, melt together coconut oil, beeswax, cacao butter, and shea butter over gently simmering water.
2. Once melted, add in your oils and your aloe vera gel.
3. Once everything is adequately mixed together, remove from heat and then stir in the zinc oxide if using. Be careful while doing this step, zinc can be irritating if it comes into contact with mucous membranes, especially in this powder form. Wear cloth around your nose and mouth and goggles. It is important to agitate as much as possible at this stage. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly.
4. Lastly, add in your essential oils and Vitamin E Oil. Stir until well distributed.
5. Pour into containers and let cool until solid before closing with a lid.
And now you’ve made your own sunscreen! Time to soak up the sun safe and luxuriously! The sunscreen will be usable in about an hour, but will harden more overnight. Apply a thin layer when out and about in the sun, every hour for optimal nourishment. You’ll notice in the photo that the sunscreen you just made will go on silky smooth and won’t leave behind a white residue.