Just a quick note to everyone: Although the Salem Saturday Market begins this Saturday, March 5th, we will not be beginning the market until Saturday, April 2nd. Our Willamette Valley weather can still be a bit dodgy in March, and we don't like our soap to get wet until you or we are ready to use it.
Also, keep an eye out soon for our Mother's Day gift packages, which will be available only online. We will have display samples at the Saturday Market, but they will only be sold online.
One of our most popular soaps is Dragon's Blood, a very intriguing name, so of course we are often asked "What is Dragon's Blood?"
When we started our soap business back in 2014, we stated on our "About Us" page that "In addition to the foods and medicines you put into your body, we believe what you put on your body is just as important."
Today we're going to talk about the foods you put into your body. Specifically, by supporting your local CSA (in our case, Minto Island Growers).
CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” There are various ways you can support your local farmers, like buying your produce at the local farmer’s market. However, CSA membership takes it a step further. Members of CSAs buy a portion (or share) of a local farm’s harvest for the year. The fee, which is often paid annually, is given in exchange for a weekly or bi-weekly box of seasonal farm items.
Nutritious and super fresh produce every week! CSAs can only provide what’s in season, which means you always get the very freshest fruits and vegetables. Many CSAs are certified organic for even more health benefits.
For over 25 years, CSAs have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief:
Advantages for farmers:
• Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
• Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
• Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
• Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
• Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking (what do we do with "rapini"?)
• Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
• Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm - even veggies they've never been known to eat
• Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. LocalHarvest has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 4,000 listed in their grassroots database.
As you might expect with such a successful model, farmers have begun to introduce variations. One increasingly common one is the "mix and match," or "market-style" CSA. Here, rather than making up a standard box of vegetables for every member each week, the members load their own boxes with some degree of personal choice. The farmer lays out baskets of the week's vegetables. Some farmers encourage members to take a prescribed amount of what's available, leaving behind just what their families do not care for. Some CSA farmers then donate this extra produce to a food bank. In other CSAs, the members have wider choice to fill their box with whatever appeals to them, within certain limitations. (e.g. "Just one basket of strawberries per family, please.")
CSAs aren't confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members. For example, a produce farmer might create a partnership with a neighbor to deliver chickens to the CSA drop off point, so that the CSA members can purchase farm-fresh chickens when they come to get their CSA baskets. Other farmers are creating standalone CSAs for meat, flowers, eggs, and preserved farm products. In some parts of the country, non-farming third parties are setting up CSA-like businesses, where they act as middle men and sell boxes of local (and sometimes non-local) food for their members.
There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk: in most CSAs, members pay up front for the whole season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. If things are slim, members are not typically reimbursed. The result is a feeling of "we're in this together". On some farms the idea of shared risk is stronger than others, and CSA members may be asked to sign a policy form indicating that they agree to accept without complaint whatever the farm can produce.
Many times, the idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together cheer on the winter squash and broccoli. Most CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, and when certain crops are scarce, they make sure the CSA gets served first.
If you want to find out more about local CSAs in your area, check out the LocalHarvest website, and find yourself a CSA in your area to join. You'll be glad you did!
One of the troubling issues that has come about since Covid-19 came onto the scene is the resurgence of the use of antibacterial soaps.
In our overzealousness to attempt to avoid contracting the virus, many have forgotten that, just as antibiotics do not kill viruses, antibacterial soaps are not useful, and can do more harm than good. In fact, on September 2, 2016, the FDA banned 19 supposedly antibacterial additives commonly found in over-the-counter soaps. So why has the FDA decided to prohibit these seemingly helpful additives?
To fully understand the FDA’s ruling, we should first understand a little about how soaps clean and disinfect. A quick chemistry refresher will remind us that there are two general types of molecules: polar (things that can be mixed into water, like sugar) and nonpolar (things that cannot be mixed into water, like oil).
Soap molecules are amphipathic, meaning they have both polar and non-polar properties. This gives soap the ability to dissolve most types of molecules, making it easier to wash them off your hands. In terms of illness-causing germs, which are mostly bacteria and viruses, soap has a two-fold effect: one chemical and one behavioral. Firstly, the amphipathic nature of soap loosens the bacteria and viruses off your hands so they can be washed away more easily. Secondly, you tend to wash your hands for a longer period when using soap, because you try to rinse all of it away. Thus, regular soaps don’t necessarily kill bacteria and viruses as much as they simply help you wash them off your skin.
Antibacterial soaps have all the same properties as regular soap, but with an extra ingredient added that is intended to stop the bacteria remaining on your skin from replicating. The idea is that this additive will further protect the hand-washer from harmful bacteria as compared to regular soap. It is important to mention that these ingredients generally have no effect on viruses, so the focus is to reduce the risk from bacterial germs.
To date, there has been no conclusive evidence to suggest household antibacterial soaps are an improvement over non-antibacterial soaps. In fact, one study found it didn’t matter whether a household used plain or antibacterial soap containing triclocarban, a compound that is closely related to triclosan and is a part of the FDA ban: both cut the incidence of childhood pneumonia and diarrhea in half.
This means that if you are washing your hands with antibacterial soap, you are exposing yourself and the environment to increased amounts of these chemicals without any measurable benefit.
“Handwashing is like a do-it-yourself vaccine,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Washing with plain soap and water has been shown to reduce bacterial presence on hands by 82%, and studies upon studies point to the beneficial health impacts of washing with plain soap. Clearly the chemical properties of plain soap and its tendency for increasing handwashing time are enough to dramatically increase the health of consumers without adding antibacterial compounds. So, while the FDA has banned household soaps containing many common antibacterial ingredients, handwashing with plain soap will remain a cornerstone of public health and should continue to be a major part of your daily hygiene.
Here's a breakdown of reasons you SHOULD NOT use antibacterial soaps:
1. Antibacterial soap contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Maybe you’ve heard now about how the overuse of antibiotics is causing the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Well, the same can be said of antibacterial products like soap.
2. Antibacterial soap may disrupt hormones. In animal studies, like one done at the Journal of Toxicological Sciences, it was found that triclosan altered the hormones in rats, causing an estrogenic effect. The Food and Drug Administration says that animal studies aren’t always indicative of what will happen to humans, but even they recommend reviewing the risks further and say that concerned consumers should use regular soap instead.
3. Antibacterial soap may impair muscle function. The list of risks associated with triclosan go on! A study, reported in Smithsonian Magazine, found that triclosan “hinders human muscle contractions at the cellular level and inhibits normal muscle functioning in both fish and mice.” The researchers weren’t even exposing cells to super-high dosages during the study. They used levels of triclosan similar to what we experience every day.
4. Antibacterial soap increases risk of allergies. There are a lot of theories about why allergies are on the rise and one is that the overly-sanitized environment that we live in is harming the development of our immune system. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology furthers this theory. It found that the triclosan commonly found in antibacterial products causes mutations, which may lead to food allergies.
5. Antibacterial soap is bad for the environment. When you rinse your hands of antibacterial soap, it doesn’t just disappear down the drain. It gets into our environment and could have disastrous consequences. As Eco Watch reported, the antibacterial chemicals in soap aren’t completely removed by wastewater treatment facilities. The chemicals get transferred into sludge, which is then put on agricultural land and could contaminate surface water.
6. Antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective than regular soap. The icing on the cake is that antibacterial soap doesn’t do any better of a job at preventing disease than regular soap.
So please, continue to wash your hands well, but do it with good old regular soap. :-)
As the Salem Saturday Market soon draws to a close at the end of October, many have been asking where to find us the rest of the year.
We will continue to be available at the Salem Public Market throughout Christmas.
Additionally, you will find us at these events:
Rasani Fair Fall Expo October 5 & 6
Mt. Angel Hazelnut Fest December 6, 7, & 8
Magic at the Mill December, schedule pending
And as always, you can find us and order online! Keep checking back, as we are adding to the website.
Pure Olive Oil bars are here!
We've been wanting to make this one for a while now, and they are now ready!
Pure olive oil bars... it doesn't get any simpler, or more wonderful, than this. This is the bar for those that can't use anything else because of sensitive skin, and for everyone because it's such a great bar!
Olive oil soap bars take longer to cure than our blended oil bars, so we are making these in small batches for now.