Earth Day 2018: Reduce Plastic, Bulk Up!


Jessico Dickerson
Wellness Lead, Dill Pickle Food Co-op

Earth Day 2018 is taking place once again this Sunday, April 22nd. You might be curious to know that the first Earth Day occurred on April 22nd, 1970 and is the largest secular observance on the world (1). Today people celebrate Earth Day to promote environmental awareness and to push for environmental improvements on a global scale. This year’s Earth Day campaign is “End Plastic Pollution” and is geared towards changing human attitudes about plastic and reducing plastic usage.

You too can participate in this year’s campaign to reduce your plastic consumption. One such effective and affordable means of doing so is by shopping in the bulk bin section of your local grocery store.

Not to be confused with buying in bulk from a large box store. When you “buy in bulk” you often get more of a product than you need with a lot of extra packaging.

Bulk is Green summarizes the benefits of buying from bulk bins:

  1. Saving money — Buying natural and organic foods in the bulk section of the grocery store offers an average savings of 30 percent and 50 percent versus packaged food.
  2. Helping the environment — Eliminating packaging reduces carbon footprints. Buying in bulk mitigates the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and streamlines the transportation needed to deliver goods to market, helping to reduce CO2 emissions.
  3. Reducing food waste — Buying in bulk allows shoppers to make smarter decisions, by purchasing the exact amount of foods they need, as opposed to purchasing consumer packaged goods with a pre-determined amount that may not get used before its expiration date.
  4. Flexibility to buy a pinch or a pound — Buying in bulk offers a broad selection of natural and organic products that can be purchased in the exact quantity desired. If shoppers need a large quantity of nuts for a holiday party or just a pinch of curry powder for a new recipe — bulk foods provide both options. (2)

Shopping in the bulk section also provides the opportunity to buy small quantities to try out new grains/nuts/beans/spices/etc. without having to commit to a whole package.

You can reduce plastic waste even more so by “bringing in your own containers” or BYOC and filling them up, but make sure you get a tare weight at the registers before filling them up.

Remember to Bulk Up this Earth Day!


Springtime Allergies: Natural Remedies


Jessico Dickerson
Wellness Lead, Dill Pickle Food Co-op

Even though it may not feel like it, spring has finally arrived here in Chicago! You may be feeling symptoms from seasonal allergies that come with the blooming trees and flower buds, such as congestion, headaches, runny eyes, itchy eyes, and sneezing. And you’re not alone – it’s estimated that 1 in 5 or 50 million people in the US suffer from seasonal allergies.

These allergy symptoms can be triggered by particles in our environment, like pollen and mold. Our body treats these particles as foreign substances and attempts to filter out these invaders through the liver. Once filtered, these particles need to be released from the body, so our body uses three exit strategies to flush them out - through the skin, urinary tract, and digestive tract.  However, if these elimination systems are not optimally functioning, the irritants will eventually recirculate back to the liver. 

When the liver has more toxins than it can handle, it stores them and releases a chemical called histamine, which results in allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergy symptoms are a result of the liver’s inability to keep up with the workload it is dealt (1).

Fortunately, there are many natural remedies one can seek out to reduce the production of histamine, restore the liver, and balance the systems of elimination.  Here are five of those remedies:


Stinging Nettles


Stinging nettles grow wild here in the Midwest, but be careful if you go out to harvest them, as they can “sting” you with their prickly hairs, known as trichomes.  Research has shown that stinging nettle leaves naturally control the production of histamines (2). You can ingest nettles as a tea or in tincture form. It is advised to brew a tablespoon of dried nettle leaves per 8oz cup of water and to consume 3-4 cups per day to help flush out the particles more efficiently.



Another ancient remedy used to provide allergy relief is local, raw honey. Studies suggest that eating a tablespoon of raw honey, sourced within a 100 mile radius, is equivalent to an allergy shot because when one eats honey you are ingesting smaller amounts of the local pollen and over time a person may become less sensitive to the pollen and experience less symptoms. In one study, it was noted that one has to consistently consume the honey everyday for at least 8 weeks in order to feel relief from symptoms (3).



If you’re looking to avoid sweet substances, you can try another bee product called Propolis. Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with a substance called exudate, gathered from tree buds, and is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the Beehive. Local Propolis has been shown to be effective in the relief of allergy symptoms, where in one study scientists gave propolis to rats for two weeks and found that it significantly inhibited the production of histamine in the rats (4). It can easily be consumed in tincture form.



To help improve detoxification, increase your daily intake of fruit, vegetables, and seeds. The average American gets a total of 15 grams of fiber per day, where primal predecessors were getting upwards of 120 grams of fiber per day. Fiber assists in regular bowel movements and also binds to toxins for excretion. To protect and detoxify the liver, eat more bitter vegetables, such as as arugula, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, and chicory, which helps promote the production and flow of bile (5).



Last but not least, drink plenty of water! Drinking water helps flush our urinary system and supports elimination of foreign substances by thinning mucous in the nasal passageways, while encouraging sinus drainage. It’s recommended that one drink at least half your body weight in ounces to help flush out the foreign particles. And yes, those 3-4 cups of stinging nettles tea do count towards your daily water goal. 😀


The content presented above is for informational purposes. Please consult with your doctor if you are interested in implementing any of these suggestions to ensure it is safe for your personal health care needs.


  2. Roschek, Bill, et al. “Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.” Phytotherapy research 23.7 (2009): 920-926.
  4. Saarinen K, Jantunen J, Haahtela, “Birch Pollen Honey for Birch Pollen Allergy – A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study” 2011
  5. Shinmei Y, Yano H, et al.“Effect of Brazilian propolis on sneezing and nasal rubbing in experimental allergic rhinitis of mice” Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2009;31(4):688-93.

Almond-Oat Cookie Bites

Leslie Patton, owner #2871


This has got to be one of my favorite snacks. My daughter loves them, too, and requests one nearly every day. It's super easy to eat on the go, and involves only a few ingredients that you likely have hidden in the pantry. The addition of the chocolate chips takes these right into dessert territory.

Keep these vegan by using dairy-free chocolate chips. I like the Enjoy Life brand that's sold at Dill Pickle. The bulk bins have many of the other ingredients.

These freeze well so consider doubling the recipe. Trust me, they won't go to waste!

The Recipe

makes about 12 bites

1 cup old-fashioned oats
6 Medjool dates (pitted)
1/4 cup almond meal
4 tablespoons natural almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond milk (or water)
pinch salt (optional)
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Pulse oats in food processor or blender until a flour-like consistency is achieved. Add in dates and almond meal, and then pulse again until well combined.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Add those in last and pulse just once or twice to mix.
  3. Roll into 12 balls. Store in refrigerator or freezer to keep fresh.

Cherry Bran Muffins

Leslie Patton, owner #2871 


As a mom of three, I'm always looking for creative ways to sneak more fruits, veggies and whole grains into my family's diet. These muffins fit the bill and were a big hit with adults and kids alike. They're packed full of fiber and protein, thanks to the bran, whole wheat flour, hemp seeds and eggs. And they're easily made vegan by subbing in flaxseed or chia eggs for chicken eggs. I like to grab my dried fruits, nuts and grains from Dill Pickle's bulk bins, a budget friendly option. And you can certainly find the other ingredients there, too!

The Recipe

makes about 12 muffins

1 cup wheat bran (I used unprocessed from Bob's Red Mill)
1 1/2 cups flour of choice (I used a combo of garbanzo and whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dried cherries (or raisins)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup molasses
2 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) and lightly oil or grease 12 muffin cups. Alternatively, line with paper baking cups.
  2. Whisk together first six ingredients in large bowl. Stir in cherries. 
  3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine almond milk, applesauce, oil, molasses and eggs (or flax/chia eggs). Stir wet ingredients into dry just until combined. Do NOT overmix! Top with some oats and coarse sugar, if desired.
  4. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.