The spice of our lives

By: Carl Haakenstadspice spoons

With the holiday season fast approaching, I wanted to spend a little time talking about herbs and spices. What would the holidays be like without all of the wonderful spices of the world? Just imagine ginger bread boys and girls without ginger; stuffing without sage and rosemary; no herbs to rub on the turkey or goose; and where does that leave spiced holiday wine? The holidays would have a lot less color and flavor if it weren’t for herbs and spices.

If you buy your culinary herbs and spices at Oneota Co-op, you have Frontier Natural Products Co-op to thank for bringing all of these wonderful flavors to your holiday table. Frontier Co-op was started as a two person operation in 1976 along the Cedar River in eastern Iowa. Over the years they have grown, but as they like to say they were “born a co-op” and they are “still a co-op.” Their main facility is now located in Norway, Iowa – not far from Cedar Rapids. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Frontier facility last year. From their high-tech quality assurance lab to their high-pressure steam sterilizer and how well they treat their employees, I was definitely impressed with what I saw.

I came away from our visit realizing just how committed Frontier is to the quality of their product and to the responsible sourcing of all of their herbs and spices. Occasionally when I place my order with them, I am told that a certain product is out of stock. Though frustrating for customers, it is reassuring to know that these out of stock situations are typically caused by rejected ingredients due to quality reasons. Their dedication to quality is second to none and contributes to our belief that Frontier’s herbs and spices are the best around.

When you are sitting down to your holiday meals think not only of the farmers who raised the turkey, or soybeans for tofurky, but also about the farmers who raised the cinnamon, oregano, or paprika – without which most meals would be incomplete.
New Bulk Herbs and Spices.

We are also happy to be carrying some new products from Frontier in the bulk herb and spice section. First, we have brought in some new flavored salts that can be used to add new depth of flavor. We now carry Celery Salt which is purely a mixture of ground celery seed and sea salt. We also now carry Seasoning Salt that is packed with delicious spices such as mustard seed, paprika, cayenne, and allspice – just to name a few. Seasoning Salt is a great way to add complex flavor to a quick meal. I have fond memories of eating simple oven fries sprinkled with seasoning salt that my mother would make quickly after a long day of work.

Another exciting addition is Applewood Smoked Sea Salt. This salt is truly smoked over eastern Washington applewood at low temperatures. It is perfect used as a finishing salt or in any other dish where a subtle smokiness is welcome or desired. Finally, we have a bulk Himalayan Pink salt. This salt is mined in the Himalayan Mountains and has coloring from pink to red because it contains many important trace minerals and iron. Try the recipe below for Chili Sweet Potato Fries that can be prepared quickly while providing a delicious and nutritious snack or side.