Category Archives: organic

DIY Gifts for Your Favorite Foodies!

Dipping Oils and Flavored Vinegar

Written by Gayle

These gifts for foodies are so much fun to make and give! The vinegar takes about a month for the flavors to “marry”, so be sure to let your loved one know before they pop it open for a tasty salad!

Flavored Vinegar

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Place your chosen flavorings in a quart-sized jar. For these three, I used
Raspberries and fresh mint leaves (I used champagne vinegar)
Slices of lemon peel, sliced garlic cloves, chopped fresh rosemary (I used white wine vinegar)
Fresh cranberries (I used rice vinegar)

Pour the vinegar over the items into the jars. Cover with a non-metal lid (or put a piece of plastic wrap between the lid and the jar). Refrigerate for about three to four weeks, swirling it around every day.
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After a month or so, pour the contents through a strainer and then into your chosen bottles (with a funnel). Add a gift tag (mine were just printable business cards that I got at an office supply store) with a ribbon. Viola!

Italian Sun-Dried Tomato Dipping Oil

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I love to use dipping oil on bread when we eat Italian food. Here’s a simple recipe to do it yourself!

1/4 tsp each dried italian herbs–basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary
1 TBSP chopped sun-dried tomato (the kind that is packed in oil)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1/2 TBSP chopped fresh organic parsley
3 TBSP grated organic parmesan cheese
2 cups Organic Extra-virgin Olive Oil

In a small pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. add the herbs and the garlic, and just heat until softened.
Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rest of the oil and then blend well. Pour into a bottle and allow to sit for several hours before serving. You can pour into gift bottles and spread a bit of your kitchen magic around to your friends and family! These should be used within about a week, or kept in the refrigerator.

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Happy gift-giving from Lassen’s!

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Build a Salad Worth Eating!

Build a Salad Worth Eating!

Written by Denae

There are a lot of ways to make a kickin’ salad. Leftovers can be a salad go-to if you want to make sure they don’t go to waste. I’ve used baked chicken, fajita veggies, and fruit on it’s last leg to make sure I’m not throwing away food. Don’t be scared of a few bruises, my husband always says, “The uglier the fruit, the more delicious it’ll taste.”

Below I’m whipped up a lovely infographic to help you whip up a legit salad. A filling dinner doesn’t always have to take a long time to prepare.  

Love, 
Lassens

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Spiced Hot Apple Cider

5 Ingredient Spiced Apple Cider

Written by Denae

Have we worn you out with all things apple this season? We sure hope not because we’ve got a delicious spiced apple recipe for ya! It’s super easy, only 5 ingredients, and so SO tasty!


Print Recipe
Spiced Hot Apple Cider
Course Beverage
Cuisine Beverage
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Beverage
Cuisine Beverage
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to large pot and simmer on low for 45 minutes.
  2. Pour cider through colander to sift out spices.
  3. Garnish if desired with cranberries and sliced oranges.
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WE MAKE COFFEE.
More specifically, we make coffee that kicks ass, and we’ve done it for over 20 years.
All our coffee is Organic. And all our coffee is Fairtrade. And it’s all deep, dark and delicious.

FAIRTRADE: OUR POSITION

“It can’t be done!” That’s what people said when we set out to use only Fairtrade and Organic beans. We’ve proven it can be done. We’ve proven that choosing good can also mean great. And we’re proud to be great without compromising.

ORGANIC: OUR POSITION

Why Organic? Here’s what Organic coffee means to us: it means good products and principles. It means the best in coffee, and the best intentions.

WHAT ORGANICS MEANS FOR YOU.

It means our coffee is pure, pesticide free, full of flavour, and good for you. It means our coffee is tested by certified independent auditors, randomly and without warnings, to ensure there are no pesticides and herbicides. It means our coffee growers are accountable to us, so we can be accountable to our coffee drinkers.

WHAT ORGANIC MEANS FOR THE WORLD.

It means that the soil where our coffee grows is continually enriched with natural plant matter. It means that the farmers we depend on have better security and dependable farming practices. It means more consistent yields and incomes for the farming families and communities we source from. It means a reduction in subsidies and economic instability for the communities where coffee is grown. It means no exposure to pesticides for the families and farmers who grow our coffee and that means less long-term health and respiratory illnesses for the communities. It means smart farming, planning for tomorrow, and not sacrificing the future.

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We believe great coffee is the answer to many things.

But our question to the world is, “How will you wake up and kick ass with us?”

Vegetarian Greek Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce

Vegetarian Greek Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce

Written by Denae


Print Recipe
Vegetarian Greek Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Vegetables
Tzatziki Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Vegetables
Tzatziki Sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Chop up your vegetables in to bite size pieces.
  2. In a large bowl combine the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, add all the spices, and mix together.
  3. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, make the Tzatziki Sauce. Combine Greek yogurt, finely chopped cucumber, lemon juice, dill, minced garlic, and salt to taste.
  5. Serve the vegetables over a warmed pita bread and drizzle with Tzatziki Sauce.
Recipe Notes

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Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

Written by Denae

Something tasty, high in protein, and still seasonal is a nice break from all the treats that come around this season! Instead of feeling chained to bringing a cookies platter to your work potluck, surprise everyone with this delicious pumpkin hummus!

The seasonings are so easy to play around with too, which is nice if you want to spice things up a bit! See what I did there 😉

We hope you enjoy this lovely and INSANELY easy dish!

Love,

Lassens

Print Recipe
Pumpkin Hummus
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth throughout, be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally while blending.
  2. Serve with vegetables, chips, crackers, in wraps and sandwiches, or whatever else your little heart desires for this hummus!
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Eggs with Everything

Eggs with Everything

Written by Denae

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Breakfast food is amazing! Not just for breakfast, but lunch… and especially dinner! So while this recipe may be called appear “breakfasty”, don’t deprive yourself of deliciousness just because the time of day. 

This meal always makes me think of Saturday mornings with my siblings. We’d sit around the kitchen and talk while I made breakfast, and for some peculiar reason it was always eaten in a cup instead of on a plate. I suppose those were pre-arugula loving days though. However, I will debate that it still does taste just a little better inside of  a cup 😉

This recipe has a lot of flexibility, which is always nice if you’re looking to whip something up real quick. Since I don’t cook by recipes (making it really hard sometimes to remember to measure and write stuff down when doing these recipes) I’ve done a lot of different varieties of this same kind of dish.

The beauty is that it’s general enough that you know you could throw whatever leftovers/veggies/meat/anything hanging out in the fridge, in with the eggs and BOOM you have a meal! When I made this recipe I had a bell pepper and red onion that needed to be eaten, so this was a perfect reason to use those up. The ingredients can be anything. Over the years we’ve thrown in anything from leftover steak, to frozen pre-seasoned potatoes, to food that was going to be tossed in a day or two if it wasn’t used. 

Get creative and share your creations with us by tagging either #lassens or #lassensloves

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Print Recipe
Eggs with Everything
Cuisine Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Gather all your ingredients together. And chop them in to bite-size pieces
  2. Add the 2 T of olive oil to the bottom of a pan and thoroughly cook any meat or potatoes with the onion. Move those to another bowl and add the remaining 2 T of olive oil to the pan. Cooking the vegetables will vary depending on if you want them crunchy or soft. For soft veggies: Bell peppers soften about 10 minutes Zucchini softens in about 5 minutes Green Beans soften in about 3-5 minutes Tomatoes soften in about 2 minutes
  3. While the veggies are cooking, beat the eggs together in a separate bowl. Remove the veggies from the pan and scramble the eggs. Mix together all the cooked ingredients, mix in the cheese, and serve warm!
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Vegan Apple Crisp

Vegan & Grain-Free Apple Crisp

Written by Denae

Warm, fall-infused, comforting, vegan, and grain-free. These all make the perfect combination for a delicious apple crisp.

My favorite apples for apple crisp are the classic tart Granny Smith, and the juicy sweet Honeycrisp. Since they are both firm and crisp apples, they don’t become mush when they’re baked. 

The topping is another vital part. Since trying to stay away from grains, I’ve had to experiment with toppings while I make recipes. Originally I started with purely nuts, then threw in coconut, then I found quinoa flakes from Ancient Harvest. These flakes have changed how I make meatballs, crumbles, oatmeal, the list goes on. 

Enjoy this warm and sweet dessert,

Lassens

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Print Recipe
Vegan & Grain-Free Apple Crisp
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 45-60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Topping
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 45-60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel and slice apples in lengthwise pieces.
  3. Combine the remaining filling ingredient in a bowl. Add the apples and mix together. Add to an 8x8 or 9x13 dish (depending how thick you want the dessert).
  4. After combining all the topping ingredients in a bowl, sprinkle over the apple mixture.
  5. Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes; or until the apples are easily pierced with a fork and the topping is golden brown.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes. Can be served alone, with whipped cream or ice cream.
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Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

FALL IS HERE!

Written by Denae

It’s the first day of fall! Can we just stop for a moment and soak that in, please?  These are the pretty decorations and delicious treats we had to kick off this fun season!

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Naturally, a recipe.. or two.. had to be made. First, we’ll start with the delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip that I made.

I always feel hesitant to make something “cheesecake” like, because I am afraid of the cream cheese clumping up and the dip not looking very pretty. I’ve learned though, ROOM TEMPERATURE. So as you embark on this recipe adventure, make sure you give yourself enough time to lower the cream cheese temperature.

Since there is a pumpkin shortage, or at least an organic pumpkin shortage, you can use a can of pumpkin pie filling instead of pureed pumpkin. Since it has more sugar and spices already in it, I’d only use about 3/4 the sugar amount and then add spices to taste until you’re satisfied — just try to not eat it all while you taste test!

Enjoy,

Lassens

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Print Recipe
Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
Course Dessert
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix together all ingredients, besides chopped pecans, until nice and smooth. With a spatula, fold in 3/4 of the pecans.
  2. Place on a serving dish, sprinkle with the remainder of the pecans and some pumpkin pie spice.
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Gala Apple & Kale Salad

Gala Apple & Kale Salad

Written by Denae

Gale Kale Salad_5-01Let’s be real here, we all love an easy salad. I think that’s the purpose of salad, right?

This Gala Apple & Kale Salad is super fresh, crisp and has a nice crunch. It’ll also pair great with just about any entree. If you want to pack a little protein, you can even add some shredded chicken and make this salad your lunch!

Hope you enjoy! Love,

Lassen’s

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Print Recipe
Gala Apple & Kale Salad
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Salad
Dressing
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Salad
Dressing
Instructions
  1. Slice apple in to bite-size pieces.
  2. Combine greens, apple pieces, and sliced almonds in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese.
  5. Toss and serve.
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Focus on Local–Ojai Olive Oil

Ojai Olive Oil

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I sure didn’t appreciate the beauty of the olive tree when I had one in the front yard of our first little house.  It was pretty, but I had no idea what was hiding in those little orbs.  The nutritional value of olive oil is vast.  From this website I learned that olive oil can improve the immune system and protect agains viruses.  Heart disease, cancer, strokes, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions can be beneficially affected by consuming olive oil.  (Very interesting information!)  Olives are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet — you can learn more at the balance me beautiful website — which is a super healthy way to eat!

 

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I recently spent an afternoon with Alice Asquith, who showed me around the Ojai Olive Oil company’s olive grove and pressing operation, and learned so much more about the amazing olive.  It was a gorgeous summer day in Ojai, and Alice was kind and gracious.  

A Little History…

Did you know that until the 1780s, there were no olive trees in California?  The Padres from Spain introduced the trees so that they could have their olive oil.  It took over 100 years before California farmers were interested in growing olives.  In fact, there are still not enough olive growers in America to supply America’s olive oil needs.  Only 20% of the olive oil Americans consume is produced in America, even though there are many climates that are suited to olive growing.  

 

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In 1982, Alice’s husband, Ronald, bought a ten acre orange grove as a retirement project.  They moved to Ojai from metropolitan Los Angeles, and eventually replanted the grove in olives.  In 1998 he bought 36 more acres, where they now have the center of their operation. This grove had been planted in 1880!  The original farmers made oil until 1910, but after that the trees just sat — for 78 years.  No oil was made from the olives–they just fell to the ground and rotted.  Ron began to give them lot of TLC, and after just three years, the trees began to produce beautifully.  In 2001 they made their first olive oil.    The entire grove is now certified organic. 

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They started selling their oil–in their signature blue bottles–at farmer’s markets.

Ron decided to plant other varieties, and now they have nine different olive varieties in the groves.  At first they blended all of the varieties into their blended oil, but now they make both pure and blended variety oils.  

 

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 Three years ago they started suppling their oil to a cosmetic maker, and they have lovely soaps and creams made from their oil.

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Ronald spent many hours studying and learning about olive growing, and he had some wonderful mentors to help him along his way.  The groves now have over 3000 trees, which are thriving, but Alice said that “the weather is the boss.”  From budding to harvest, the trees must be nurtured.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The olive trees blossom in late April or so, and it takes six months from blossom to first harvest.  The olives will stay green for as long as possible, and then they start to ripen in early October.  During the harvest time they have to constantly watch the olives to make sure they harvest at the right time.  They wait until most of the olives are ripe–have turned color–then they harvest, all by hand.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

It takes sixty pounds of olives to make one gallon of olive oil!  But if the weather has been very hot, the yield will be a little higher.  The olives are taken directly from the groves to be milled the day they are harvested. 

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First the olives are washed and the leaves blown off, and then the olives are crushed–chopped and pushed through a sieve. 

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You can see how the olives would be crushed as they moved down through this part of the machine and into the next step!  

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Once it moves into the drums, the olives are now the consistency of paste, and looks sort of like oatmeal.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The paste is stirred up slowly.  No heat or water is added.  It is protected from air to prevent oxidation.   

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The paste begins to separate, and then the centrifuge begins to spin to assist the separation by density and weight.  It takes 90 minutes from start to finish!  They can process up to 800 pounds of olives per hour.  The oil is strained and bottled.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has established standards for extra-virgin olive oil.  A sample of every batch of Ojai Olive Oil is sent to a lab for blind testing to make sure it meats the highest standards, and has less than 0.8% acidity.

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This Tuscan is one of the Ojai Olive Oil blends!

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

At the end of the process, there is a waste made of pulp, skins, and pits, shown above.  Ojai Olive Oil Company uses this to make compost.  

Some companies will add chemicals and apply heat to the waste so they can extract more of the oil.  However, these oils do not meet the “Extra-virgin” standards, and are often sold under the names, “Pure” or “Extra Light Tasting.”  These oils are about as far away from extra-virgin as can be.  (Do not be fooled by the “pure” label!)  And they do not have the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil.
 
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Ojai Olive Oil Company also gives free tours and tastings at their grove.  You can see the machines and taste the oils!  For times and more detailed information about their ranch and story, click here.

If you have a morning or afternoon to stroll through an olive grove and learn about olive oil–not to mention taste some delightful deliciousness–I recommend going to Ojai and take a tour.  But if you don’t have the time, remember that you can find this deliciousness at Lassen’s.  
 
Love, 
 
Lassen’s
gaia+herb, know+your+herbs, gaia+farm, herbal+supplements, meet+your+herbs

Producer Spotlight–Gaia Farm Tour

What a Gorgeous Farm!

 
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Have you ever wondered how those herbs get in the extracts, the tinctures, the capsules, the bulk boxes, and the tea bags?  We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Gaia Farm in North Carolina recently.
 
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With the morning sun gently shining, we looked out over the ginko trees to survey some of the 350 acre farm.  The temperate weather influences and land formations of this area provide a unique habitat–ideal for growing many herbs for their products.  The diverse red clay to black loam soils also provide a fertile landscape.  Gaia Farms grow about 20% of their herbs right here in this beautiful farm.  For the rest of their herbs they scour the world for the best, most ethical, and “clean” producers and gatherers.  

 

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This is Ric Scalzo, the owner, CEO, Herbalist, and Naturopath at Gaia Herbs.  He took us throughout the farms for two days, explaining the herbs that they are growing.  Here he is showing us the Ginko trees.  Ginko is great for mental alertness (in fact, Gaia has a formula called “Mental Alertness” which contains Ginko!) 

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These leaves will be harvested for greatest potency when the edges begin to have a golden edge.

From Seed to Shelf

At Gaia, the herbs are cultivated carefully from seed to harvest.  

 

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Here are thousands of Echinaea seedlings in their greenhouse.  They beging to plant seeds in February. Once they get bigger and stronger, the seedlings are taken outside to the Hoop Frames where the plants get acclimatized to being outside, and are allowed to grow bigger and stronger.
 
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The plants in the foreground are ready to be planted in the fields.  
 
Everything grown at Gaia, as well as all of the herbs they get from sources around the world, is certified organic, according to Oregon Tilth standards, and recertified every year.  Gaia also does yearly soil analysis as well to be sure the soil has all of the nutrients needed for plant strength.  In the winter they grow crops to be tilled back into the soil to increase the nitrogen level in the soil, and it is amended in the spring with fish, kelp, and seaweed amendments, as well as compost, of course.  Pests and fungi are managed organically–no chemicals!  They use wasps to control the Japanese Beetle.

Knowledge

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Here is the group learning about Hawthorn buds and leaves, which were being harvested right behind us.  Hawthorn is a great source of flavanoids, which are extracted right at the Gaia plant.  Hawthorn is a great heart support.
 
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This was the view we had (perfect photo-op area!) as we walked to the fields.
 
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Experience

Ric actually had us taste some of the herbs as he explained their use.
 
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Some of us even planted some Gotu Kola plants from the trays and into the ground.  Here are a couple of rows that had just been planted.  Ric said that Gotu Kola can “calm an overanxious mind.”  Some of us who have a hard time turning off our brains at night could use some of that calming!
 
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We tasted some lemon balm herb, one of the ingredients in formulas for gas and bloating. 
 
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The fields were so well maintained are beautiful.
 
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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful herbs!
 
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This is Stinging Nettle.  Gaia farm is allowing it to go to seed this year so that they can harvest 500 lbs of seeds.  Stinging Nettle is an Anti-inflammatory, among other uses.  The seeds, the leaves, and the roots are all used in herbal medicine.  

Purity.  Integrity.  Potency.

Gaia Farms has partnered with several universities, as well as international groups to conduct research on herbs.  They recently did some research on Tumeric with Auburn University.  One thing that I was very impressed with was Gaia’s committment to quality.  They test their own products, as well as the herbs they recieve from other sources, to make sure that they have the purest and most potent products possible.  On their own herbs, they will take a sample to the lab to make sure the plant has the best potency before they harvest.  If it doesn’t, they will wait a few days or longer while the plant continues to grow.  They test again, and will not harvest until the plant has reached the target potency.  
 
Gaia does the processing of the herbs–they generally receive the herbs as raw material.  They test it to make sure that it is not only what the supplier says it is, but that it is the target potency.  They make sure there is no pesticide or herbicide residue.  Gaia has a beautiful lab and plant where quality is job #1.  
 
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Valerian Flowers–the root of the beautiful and sweetly-fragrant plant is a sedative for insomnia, as well as muscle pains and spasms.  It is found in the Gaia Sleep formulas.
 
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Gaia has an amazing website, where you can literally “Meet Your Herbs.”  You can enter the ID number on the box or bottle of product, and the website will give you the history of the herbs in your product.  You can also learn about herbs what they are good for, and how your health can be enhanced by using herbal products.  There you can see how Gaia supports local and global concerns as well.  You can find their website here.
 
Thank you Gaia, for a great tour!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s