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.
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.
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
Since its inception, Mountain Rose Herbs has put plants, people, and planet before profit. Led by these values, we’ve been a longtime leader on the list of green companies, helping to positively shape the herbal industry with environmentally focused initiatives. Our core values revolve around sustainability and as such, we’ve implemented innovative programs in energy efficiency, zero waste, and alternative commuting incentives.
WHAT ARE GREEN COMPANIES?
While the definition can vary in its details, green companies are essentially businesses that commit to practices that positively impact their community and the environment. Most states have created an award system to recognize the regional businesses that are the best employers based on their commitment to employees, community, and the planet.
This brings us to Oregon Business’ 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon. To win this award, employees throughout the state participated in an anonymous survey, rating the sustainable initiatives in their workplace and their satisfaction with those policies. In addition, employers were independently scored on their answers to a list of 15 sustainability-oriented questions.
Spring is upon us, and many of us spent the cold and dark days of winter planning spring and summer gardens, selecting plant varieties, acquiring seeds, and getting a head start on sowing, germinating, and nurturing the young seedlings in our windowsills and greenhouses. Nowadays, we can buy everything from seeds and trees to full-grown flowers and shrubs at nurseries around the country. But not all nurseries are alike. A surprising number of the most popular suppliers of the seeds and plants we love give little regard to environmental issues. Don’t despair! There are guidelines and best practices we would like to share with the Mountain Rose Herbs community that will help you select seeds and plants that were grown using practices that support the health and vitality of our ecosystem.
Green tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. On average, 600,000 tons are consumed each year! It is predominantly enjoyed in China, Japan, and surrounding countries where many cups are poured throughout the day. Pretty remarkable for one plant, right?
In the western world, it is common to see green tea listed on a menu, but rarely do we specify the type of tea or where it’s from. These factors play a huge role in its flavor and aroma yet are often left out of the description. Similar to wines, there is a wide array of flavor profiles found in green tea—imagine if everywhere you went wines were only listed as white or red; how would you know what to choose? And if you enjoyed it, how could you find it again? In this blog, I’m going to talk about some different types of green tea and what makes them so unique.
In 2001, when we moved Mountain Rose Herbs from California to Pleasant Hill, Oregon, we made the move to be closer to our farm partners, wildharvesters, and processors. But another key factor in our decision was Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO), a Corvallis, Oregon nonprofit that was reimagining how the world’s food systems could work better for people and the planet. Founded on the fundamental belief that our food and agricultural systems should be sustainable and equitable, Oregon Tilth has spent nearly fifty years working for organic food and farming.
Within a year of moving to Oregon, Mountain Rose Herbs became a certified organic processor through OTCO and began a relationship that we have cherished now for two decades. From the beginning, our experience with OTCO has been invaluable. Working hand-in-hand with this outstanding organization has enabled us to create alliances and sustainable systems that are the bedrock of our business. Their expertise and dedication have helped us put in place the tools and relationships we need to provide our customers with the finest organic botanicals—from our state-of-the-art onsite laboratory and quality control department to long-lasting working contracts with certified organic farmers and wildharvesters that we know we can trust. We would not be able to do what we do today without OTCO’s half-century of experience.
Ever wonder how Mountain Rose Herbs’ tea is made? Production Supervisor and 20-year team member, Julie DeBord, gives us an inside look at what goes into serving up the freshest and most potent cup of tea. She says it largely comes down to the quality of ingredients and our hands-on process.
Join us for this exclusive look behind the curtain to see how our loose leaf tea is crafted with your health and pleasure in mind.
Have you ever wondered how extracts are made here at Mountain Rose Herbs? Our dedicated extract production team carefully oversees the process from delivery of fresh plant material to bottling, packaging, and shipment to our customers. We use only the freshest cultivated and wildharvested plants, organic grain alcohol, and reverse osmosis water to create these handcrafted herbal extracts.
Mountain Rose Herbs’ Extract Production Supervisor, Keegan, shows us the ins and outs of our extract facility here in Eugene, OR, where we mill, tincture, and bottle all our herbal extracts.
From fresh plants and organic alcohol to quality control checks, our line of single and combination extracts is crafted with care and attention to detail.
Recently we had the opportunity to visit SunGold Botanicals in Philomath, Oregon. The brainchild of Isaac Daniel and Josh Gulliver, SunGold Botanicals was created to address the lack of infrastructure to process hemp into certified organic full spectrum oil and other products. Today SunGold Botanicals plays a central role in the organic hemp community here in our home state and is one of the first Demeter-certified Biodynamic hemp processing facilities in the nation. We love that they champion third-party certifications to promote transparency and integrity in an industry that was once the wild west. Turn on your diffuser, sit back, and take a trip to this organic farm to see the botanicals they grow and hear about the wonderful aromatic qualities of their certified organic hemp essential oil.