Herb Support for Respiratory System and Body in Prairie Burn Season. 

Topeka herbalist Joanne Bauman* has provided us the following information about how to use herbs to treat the short and long term irritating and allergic effects of smoke from Kansas prairie burning. 

Driving through the Flint Hills to Manhattan , the smoke from Spring prairie burns is thick and lingering. The foggy haze engulfs Kansas this time of year. Our respiratory systems become assaulted with this noxious stimulant and can trigger allergic type reactions, irritation and damage to sensitive mucosa. Coughing, bronchial spasms, scratchy throat, sinus irritation, sneezing or runny nose, headaches, stinging and burning eyes, are just some of the symptoms of short-term or long-term smoke exposure. Long-term inflammation can lead to secondary health issues (e.g., immune system) as well. People who have asthma, COPD pulmonary obstructive disease, emphysema, heart disease, or even seasonal allergies will be extra susceptible.

When the body is under stress or environmental assault, it is important to nourish your body with good nutrition, high quality whole foods such as bone broth and fermented foods. Get adequate rest and push fluids (drink water!!).  Nourishing  herbal daily infusions, such as Mullein leaf, Nettle leaf, Oatstraw or Linden are an excellent source of absorbable vitamins and minerals, combat fatigue, ease nerves, and support numerous bodily systems (respiratory, adrenal, immune, cardio-vascular, endocrine, etc).

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).  Mullein Leaves are an excellent tonic for the entire respiratory system. To soothe and relieve  hacky or wheezing cough, throat irritation and lung problems try drinking 2-3 cups of Mullein Leaf infusion daily. As an expectorant, Mullein aids the lungs in expelling mucous and phlegm. To strengthen the lungs, or to restore health to lung tissues after "assaults" such as tobacco smoke or radiation: 1-2 cups of mullein infusion daily for six weeks is suggested. To relieve allergies and asthma, 2-4 cups of Mullein infusion every day for 6-8 weeks is helpful. Mullein Leaves are fuzzy, so either use a muslin bag for making your infusions, or strain through tightly-woven cloth (cheesecloth or even a coffee filter) before drinking. Drink warm or cool according to preference. In addition, a compress made from plant strained from the infusion, can be applied to the chest to ease congestion. A warm poultice of leaf can be applied to swollen glands.  (Peoples’ carries cut and sifted Mullein Leaf.)

Lemon Balm, (Melissa officinalis).  Fresh Lemon Balm is much better than dry, for it loses its fragrance in drying.  Drink Lemon Balm as a tea, use in tincture form, or infused honey, or as a bath tea.  Lemon Balm is mood boosting, uplifting, calming and nourishing to the nerves. For headaches, Lemon Balm tea or a handful in some white wine, helps ease the pain. Other herbal nervines like Skullcap tincture in low doses can sometimes relieve headaches. Lemon Balm assists energetically in healing from the effects of smoke/smoking, so try rubbing Lemon Balm infused oil on your chest.  (Available at People’s Grocery dried and just emerging, fresh from our herb garden.  It makes a delicate and delicious tea by itself or combined with other herbs like Oatstraw or Nettle with a bit of honey.)

Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis).   Malvas /mallows are cooling, soothing demulcents--relieving inflammation or irritation to lungs, dry tissue, mucous membrane. You can use the dried root, leaves and flowers in infusions and the powdered root in honey pastes/balls to help moisten the lungs and soothe dry tissues. To make a mallow root cold infusion , simply fill a jar 1/4 of the way with dried marshmallow root. Then fill the jar with lukewarm water and cover with a lid.  Let sit for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. The water should change color to a soft yellow.  Strain off the roots.  The resulting liquid should be thick and viscous.  Marshmallow can boost the immune system, soothe an inflamed sore throat and moisten the lungs in cases of dry hot conditions, such as hot coughs with little to no expectoration.  (People’s carries cut and sifted Marshmallow Root.)

Elms.  Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra), and allied elm species (Red Elm ,Siberian Elm, Ulmus pumila).  The bark of Elms is mucilaginous and gooey when steeped in water.  Powdered Slippery Elm Bark can be stirred into water or a drink.   It is mild and sweet tasting and wonderful as a daily nourishing infusion during fire season .   (People’s carries Slippery Elm Bark powder.)

* Joanne will also be teaching a class, “Common Healing Yard Weeds: Their Nutritional and Medicinal Values,” on April 15th, 1-3 PM, at the UFM (University for Man) House Solar Annex, 1221 Thurston St., Manhattan, KS.  Sign up online at tryufm.org or call 785-539-8763.  To see a list of other classes Joanne teaches or to get directions for making an infusion, visit Joanne’s website, Prairie Magic Herbals, www.prairiemagicherbals.com.    You can contact Joanne at prairiemagic@gamil.com.

People's Grocery CoOp Cooking Classes

With our final cooking class of 2014 approaching, we would love to extend our thanks to you owners and shoppers! Your participation in these events have been so wonderful! Hopefully, these classes taught by our staff have inspired new recipes in your own kitchens.

We also want to thank the First United Methodist Church for kindly allowing us to use their kitchen as our classroom. Our cooking classes would not be nearly as successful without your wonderful facilities. 

For our December class, our Assistant Manager, Lynn, will be showing us how to make Kitchari, a rice and lentil dish that is warm, healthful and delicious. 

Come learn a new recipe and give it a try! Thanks for making our 2014 cooking class series a success! We look forward to sharing more with you when we start our 2015 series in February! (Sorry, but we will not be having a class in January.) Stay tuned for more info!

October is Non-GMO Month!

GMOs are a hot topic these days and in October, we're celebrating companies that are part of the Non-GMO Project! 

People are always talking about GMO! What exactly is it? Why is it bad?  

GMO means "Genetically Modified Organisms." These are plants and animals that have gene-slicing techniques. Sometimes it is also called Genetic Engineering (GE). These strains of organisms are ones that could not occur through natural cross-breeding or pollination and the long term effects of GMOs are not yet known. 

The Non-GMO Verified Seal

The Non-GMO Verified Seal

What does the Non-GMO verified seal mean?

According to the Non-GMO Verified Project's website, the seal means that: 

  • We require ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
  • We use an Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union (where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled). Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.
  • After the test, we require rigorous traceability and segregation practices to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
  • For low-risk ingredients, we conduct a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
  • Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.

Is a Non-GMO seal the only way to tell if a product is free of GMOs?

No! If a product is Certified Organic, it is already a Non-GMO product. (GMO free is a requirement for Organic Certification!)

How long has Non-GMO verified been around?

The Non-GMO project was founded in Berkley at the Natural Grocery Co. In 2003, after a concern of Genetically Modified Soy Lecithin at their store, they rallied 161 other stores and co-ops together to form a letter writing campaign to discover what the GMO status was for the products in their stores.  In 2005, these stores teamed up to form the Non-GMO Project and created a standardized meaning for Non-GMO for the North American food Industry. 

What are the most common GMO crops? 

Alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, summer squash and zucchini. 


Does People's Grocery sell Non-GMO Project Verified products?

Yes, and we are always adding them. During the past year, more and more products have gone through the Non-GMO Project certification process and so we are adding more and more products all the time, both new and old! 

October is Fair Trade Month!

Over the last few years, Fair Trade has become a more common term. Fair Trade coffee and chocolate have become more important to many consumers and we hear this word all the time. But what does Fair Trade really mean? How does it work?

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a certification process that assures that the workers in developing countries that grew your coffee beans, cocoa, sugar cane or many more products were paid, well, fairly. In order to certify, the farmer must use sustainable practices. Fair Trade is a Nonprofit program, but is not a charity, meaning that rather than making communities reliant on donations and drops, they are helping them build businesses, improve their local economy and learn how to sell their product in a free market for a price they deserve.

I still don't get it...

Sometimes understanding how businesses work can be tricky. This great video from Fair Trade USA does a great job of explaining how your choices at the grocery store take the dollars you spent and turn them into solutions for communities in developing countries!

Ok, so I know the positives. What are the negatives to Fair Trade Certification? 

Unfortunately, everything has a downside and the issue with Fair Trade is the very thing that also makes is good: the certification process. While the process of certifying makes sure that workers are making sure they are fairly paid, using sustainable methods and that their are improvements to the community, which is great, the process can be expensive. Some organizations cost less than others. If you are interested in learning more, this article does a great job of explaining. 

Wait... Is Fair Trade the same as Free Trade? 

Not at all! Free trade means that the person that sold their goods was able to do so without taxation from the government or tariffs. While in theory this sounds great, free trade also believes in leveling the playing field on an international level. So say you have sugar grown in Africa and Central American and this year Africa had a great year for sugar so it was pretty cheap, if Central America had a bad year and experiences a lot of crop loss and needed to sell their product at a higher price, because of the level playing field aspect of free trade, they would not be able to and would have to sell it for the same low price as the farmers in Africa. This pattern can worsen poverty in some places even more. Dosomething.org does a great job of explaining the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade. 

How do I know if something is Fair Trade?

In a store, the best way to check is the label! If it has one of these logos, it means it has been officially Fair Trade Certified:

Sometimes on handicrafts or other products from smaller companies that do not want to/cannot pay the certification fee, telling if a product is certified is much harder. In these cases, you can do one of 2 things: 

  1. Contact the company. If they are truly a Fair Trade company, chances are high that they will be more than willing to share information and proof of their practices. It is a source of price for all fair trade businesses!
  2. For coffee, check out fairtradeproof.org! Find the coffee that you're drinking and it will take you to the exact lot where is was grown and will tell you if it has indeed been certified! (Isn't the internet amazing?!)
Image Credit: gogreenplus.org

Image Credit: gogreenplus.org

Does People's Grocery Cooperative sell Fair Trade products? 

We sure do! From coffee and sugar to jewelry and shampoo, we have a great selection of fair trade certified products! Keep an eye to our blog this month, to learn about our favorite Fair Trade Companies and products!

October Events

Other than just classes, October is an important month for People's Grocery! All month long we will be celebrating Non-GMO month and Fair Trade month!

We'll be commemorating them by kicking off the month with an Owner sale from October 2nd-4th! All owners will receive 10% off every visit. If you're non currently an owner, now would be a great time to become one!


Monthly Cooking Class: Warming Fall Soups

Thursday, October 9th

6:00-7:30 pm, First United Methodist Church Kitchen

Taught by our own Dolly Gudder (She makes a lot of those soups you love so much!)


Fall Fertility Series Class 1: Increasing your Fertility

Saturday, October 4th

2:00-3:30 pm, Heartspace Yoga Studio

Taught by Shannon Ryan. Learn more about our fertility series here. 


Fall Cleanse

11am- noon, Heartspace Yoga (321 Poyntz Ave, Manhattan, KS)

Taught by Anna Franklin


Fall Fertility Series Class 2: The Fertility Diet

2:00-3:30pm, Heartspace Yoga Studios

Taught by Aimee Phlegar, For more information on the series, click here.


Monthly Board Meeting

7:00-9:00pm, UFM Fireplace Room