Benefits of sustainable farming, or what to know before you consume
So, what do chickens have to do with soap and skincare?
On the surface, not a whole lot, but when I came across this little video produced by the Sustainable Food Trust, I knew I had to re-post it. The chicken and farming graphics are adorable but it's the message behind the video that I think is truly worth spreading. While we are rejoicing and celebrating our harvest bounty and looking forward to winters rest, it’s good to give a blessing to the farmers and ranchers that feed us. Without delving too far into the harmful effects of today's conventional farming effects — the video itself has that pretty well covered — I wanted to take the time to emphasize the need to promote farmers who are doing it right. The farmers who raise their chickens and other animals on open pastures instead of keeping them cooped up in tight cages. Farmers who don't rely on pesticides to keep the bugs off their crops or antibiotics to keep their stock free from disease.
Organic, pasture-raised farming practices are something I embrace on both a personal level and within my business. I am willing to pay the extra 50 cents for the organic apple if it means saving on an expensive medical bill down the road. I will go out of my way to source the best organic, food-grade quality ingredients to put in my soap and skincare products not because I'm a perfectionist, but because I want to ensure that my customers are receiving a product that is truly good for them. This is also where doing one's homework is key, both in avoiding potentially harmful products and in inadvertently avoiding a perfectly OK product that may fall victim to being lumped in with the bad stuff.
For example, a blogger I sent soap to a couple years ago declined to write about my products because of my use of canola oil. In some ways, the blogger was right to be concerned because 90 percent of the canola oil on the market right now is truly terrible for you. However, he neglected to acknowledge that the remaining 10 percent, which represents the organic, cold-pressed variety I use in my soaps, is perfectly fine. To dismiss it is not fair to those of us who go out of our way to provide these rare ingredients. The same goes for palm oil — another product that gets a bad rap. It's good to be wary of the conventionally mass-produced palm products that are wreaking havoc on our rain forests and killing off those poor orangutans but don't be afraid to buy organically, sustainably farmed palm oil. Palm oil is full of great antioxidants and is good for the skin. It may come at a higher cost upfront but is it really worth saving a dollar when the alternative involves supporting an environmentally destructive industry?
And speaking of costs, let's get back to those chickens for a minute. A $5 "grocery chain" chicken can seem like a great deal, but they are pumped up with so much water — in addition to the hormones and antibiotics — that you might not really be getting the bang for your buck that you think you are. It may even lead to expensive medical bills down the road. While we all love to save on grocery costs, its not worth the slow quiet damage its doing to us in the long run to simply buy the cheapest and most convenient way we can.
I wanted to leave you with one final caveat. I am a huge fan of organic labels, as you know, having put in the extra effort and money to become certified organic myself. That organic seal of an approval provides an easy way for consumers to ensure the quality of the products they're getting. However, there are also farmers and small business owners who are growing organically but can't afford the time or monetary expense of the certification. Talk to the farmers, if you can, to learn about their practices. They may be worth supporting also. The more we can support and drive up the demand for better farming practices the lower the costs will be in the long run. At the very least, our bodies and the planet will thank you.