Irradiation of food is a topic that is increasingly showing up as a point of concern for Mountain Rose customers, so I want to take a minute to talk about this timely subject. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of food irradiation in 1963 to kill bacteria, molds, insects, etc. in wheat and flour. Today, the FDA has approved irradiation for fruits, vegetables, eggs in the shell, spices and seasonings, sprouting seeds, poultry, crustaceans and shellfish, and red meats. Food irradiation involves exposing foods to one of three different types of ionizing radiation: gamma rays from cobalt-60, x-rays, or electron beams. The FDA uses this technology to improve food safety and extend storage and shelf life. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organics Program (NOP), which oversees the nation’s organics labeling, prohibits the use of irradiation to treat organic products because the process alters the natural state of food. These two opposing views present consumers with something of a conundrum.
On this episode of Plant Stories on Herbal Radio, we had the opportunity to speak with the acclaimed and enthralling herbalist, Richo Cech. We dive deep into Richo’s life and passions, discussing everything from his seed-seeking adventures in Africa, to captivating stories of how he grew Strictly Medicinal Seeds from the ground up (pun-intended).
Richo Cech started his professional work as an archaeologist and ethnobotanist in East Africa. Upon his return to the United States in 1978, he began cultivating and saving the seed of medicinal plants. Over the years, his gardens have become the basis for Strictly Medicinal Seeds, growers of organic, open pollinated and GMO-free seed and plants of medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, succulents, trees, and garden vegetables. Richo and his family produce a popular, bi-yearly, hand-illustrated seed catalog that provides access to this collection of common, quirky, eclectic, and bizarre seeds and plants. Richo is author of “Making Plant Medicine” (2000), “Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs” (2002), and “Growing Plant Medicine” (2009).
Richo has botanized in China and Africa, resulting in the introduction of many new and exciting medicinal herb species to gardeners throughout the world.
We’ve been loving our recent plant walks with Shana Lipner Grover of Sage Country Herbs. We were lucky that she spent some time with one of our favorite herbs: mallow (Althaea officinalis).
Like other members of the Malvaceae family, mallow is a demulcent that is rich in mucilage, so it’s both hydrating and soothing. Our mucosal membranes must be moist to be healthy. A tea made from mallow is not only good for a dry, irritated throat, it also encourages and triggers the secretion of important mucus in the rest of the body at the same time: so as the mallow tea soothes your throat, it also triggers similar action in the sinuses, eyes, digestive tract, bladder, and more! And, because that essential mucus carries immune antibodies, it helps bring those antibodies where they’re needed.
Gentle, tasty mallow is a phenomenally effective herbal ally. Listen in to learn more about mallow and other Malvaceae family demulcents!
With so many options on the shelf at the grocery store, not to mention the enormous number of food selections from online sources, it is difficult to know that the food we eat is nutritious, delicious, and free of unwanted pesticides or preservatives. We see a lot of hype around one certification or another, with new standards being presented to us all the time. How do we know that the food we put on the table supports the health of our families, communities, and the planet?
Organic certification is Mountain Rose Herbs’ go-to standard for ensuring that our herbal offerings are grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, GMO seed stock, or irradiation. However, truth be told, there can be a lot of variation in the quality of offerings from brands displaying an organic certification. Because we sell predominately organic certified products, we rely on industry partners like The Cornucopia Institute, as well as rigorous in-house testing for quality and purity, to ensure that the herbs and spices we provide enhance the lives of our customers.
Join herbalists Jiling Lin, Erika Galentin, and Camille Freeman for a lively Tea Talks Roundtable discussion on Nurturing the Herbal Practitioner.
• some of the challenges that come with running an herbal practice
• how to create a work cadence that’s realistic in the long run
• establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life
• how to run an herbal practice that feels ethically aligned, and sustains you
• how we can feel supported and connected as herbal practitioners– and continue growing and evolving as people and clinicians
• the role of the herbalist in modern life
• …and more!
In June of 2023, we embarked on a journey to meet with one of our farm partners in Wazuka, Japan. After a long and exciting travel day, we arrived in the bustling city of Osaka.
Our old friend, Masashi, welcomed us with excitement and an eagerness to share the 350-year-old tea plantation with us. We loaded into his sedan and headed for the misty hills of Wazuka. We first toured the fields where we learned about the growing, shading, inspecting, and harvesting of the fresh and vibrant green leaves. From there we got a behind-the-scenes look at how these organic tea leaves are turned into the vibrant powder we know and love. After fully experiencing the tea planation and all of the heartfelt work that went into making this fine tea powder, we were invited to take part in a traditional matcha tea ceremony.
Having worked with this farmer for over a decade, it was an honor to connect with him in a way that celebrated his culture and to recognize the people that grow and process this special tea for the world to enjoy.
Enjoy a cup of ceremonial matcha: https://mountainroseherbs.com/matcha-tea
Try matcha with a traditional whisk and spoon: https://mountainroseherbs.com/matcha-set
We are so pleased to feature another interview with our friend Lucretia VanDyke. On Herbal Radio, we have learned about Lucretia’s upbringing and what led her to work with plants, but we have never gotten to learn what plants she loves and why. In this Plant Stories episode, Lucretia talks about her favorite edible plants of New Orleans and the significance they played in her upbringing that began her herbalism journey.
With a journey that began when she was a little girl mixing herbs, mud, and roots on her grandparents’ farm, Lucretia VanDyke has had a lifelong connection to the plants. She has been in the wellness industry for over twenty-five years. Her quest for knowledge and storytelling has led her all over the world to learn about remedies, traditions, and ceremonies from indigenous healers.
One of the foremost experts on Southern folk healing arts, Lucretia integrates rituals, plant spirit meditation, holistic food/herbal medicine, and ancestor reverence into people’s practices.
Lucretia has worked and trained with many internationally known spa and skin care companies. She is a holistic educator, speaker, herbalist, sacred sexologist, ceremonialist, spiritual coach, intuitive energy practitioner, diviner, author, and world traveler. Lucretia brings her vivacious spirit and her message of ancestral connection in herbal practices to inspire others to embrace their unique relationship with the plants. Teaching herbal classes, cooking, storytelling, and foraging in the woods learning native medicine charges her soul.
Lucretia’s book African American Herbalism: A Practical Guide to Healing Plants and Folk Traditions is now available through Mountain Rose Herbs: https://mountainroseherbs.com/african-american-herbalism
This week’s guest on Interviews on Herbal Radio is esteemed herbalist, David Winston. David is well known in the herbal community for his decades of clinical experience, teaching, and medicine making. We hope you enjoy!
David Winston is an internationally known lecturer, author, ethnobotanist and the founder of Herbalist & Alchemist.
For over 45 years, David has been studying, practicing, teaching and researching Chinese, Western/Eclectic and Southeastern American herbal traditions. David’s world-renowned two-year herbal studies program, the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies, has been educating Herbalists, Physicians, Nurses, Naturopathic Physicians, Veterinarians, and Nutritionists in the art and science of clinical herbal medicine since 1980.
David has one of the largest private herbal research libraries in the U.S. The Herbal Therapeutics Research Library has over 8000 volumes, from 1550 to present, and over 15,000 articles on file. This library is a working library used for research for the herbal and nutritional industry as well as for his writing and for Herbalist & Alchemist.
David was one of the professional herbalists who founded the American Herbalists Guild, the first professional herbalists’ organization in the US, which certifies clinical herbalists. He is on the professional membership review committee. David Winston has been on the Review Committee of the Botanical Safety Handbook, which produced a significant information resource, which the entire botanical industry, from manufacturers to researchers, relies upon.
He is the clinical herbal consultant to hundreds of prominent physicians (MDs, NDs, DOs, DCs) throughout the US, Canada and Europe. David has authored hundreds of articles and a number of books on herbs.
As many of you know, at Mountain Rose Herbs, we invest time and energy into striking a balance between offering as many sustainably grown and harvested organic herbal allies as possible and simultaneously supporting the conservation of at-risk and endangered plants. We are excited that more and more people are recognizing the abundance Mother Nature has to offer and the many benefits that the botanical world provides. Unfortunately, the increasing impact of overharvesting on wild plants has left many of our most important botanicals at serious risk.
With this in mind, Mountain Rose Herbs has been working with United Plant Savers (UpS) to launch a new Seed Stewardship Project! With the help of UpS Executive Director Susan Leopold, we have chosen a variety of at-risk plant seeds that we are giving away to people who are able to plant them and help rebuild our at-risk plant communities. Now, when you place an order on MountainRoseHerbs.com, you will have the option to select a seed package for FREE. Plant them in a window box, in your back yard, or in a natural area where these plants once thrived—together we can ensure their survival one seed at a time.
At Mountain Rose Herbs, botanicals are our business, and the industry has been growing year over year as more people realize the health-supporting benefits of our plant allies. Sounds great, doesn’t it? In many ways, this is a wonderful return to valuing the abundance the natural world has to offer while utilizing the myriad benefits that botanicals provide. Unfortunately, the ongoing and increasing impact of overharvesting wild plants has left many of our native populations at significant risk of decline or even extinction. For this reason, we have invested our time and energy in striking a balance between increasing the availability of the number of botanicals we offer and supporting the conservation of the most at-risk plant varieties.