We are all consumers in a an ever changing world of constant advertisements and misleading product labels. It has gone so far, that I personally don’t feel I can trust what most product labels say. For example, when you see free range chicken eggs at the grocery store, this label leads us to believe that we are buying a chicken that was free to roam about in a farmer’s field. Although the US Department of Agriculture does define the words free range, there are no requirements for the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access. So in reality this just means the chicken had exposure (or an opportunity for exposure) to the outdoors. Both images could represent chickens that could be considered free range chickens according to the USDA definition. The chickens in the second image would only need to have a small door that was sometimes open to the outdoors to qualify; it would not even matter if they could not all go outside at the same time. There is no quality standard either, there may not be much for a chicken to look forward to once outside in terms of quality pasture like the above chickens are enjoying.
Companies, large and small have messages to share to help market their product and convince the consumer to choose their product over the others available; unfortunately these claims are often far fetched and very misleading. In our example most of us that buy free range eggs at the grocery store expect our chickens are able to enjoy the open air and pasture like the first image shows, but the reality can look at lot closer to the other image. The words "free range" convey a powerful image to the consumer, yet mean practically nothing to the producer, except that they can now charge double for pretty much the same thing.
How to find quality products?
So how do we decide what products to buy? The best advice I can give is to shop local and know the person or persons who grow or make the products you are purchasing whenever possible. I personally prefer to purchase my meat, vegetables, and eggs directly from a farmer that I know and trust. If I can go to the farm, then I know where the chickens spend their day, what they eat, how they are cared for, etc. For food, growing your own or obtaining high quality, fresh food through CSA’s or your local farmer’s market is the best option to be sure you know what you are buying. Know the person you are buying from and don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, it’s your health on the line.
A little background information:
My scrutiny of product labels began many years ago when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This meant that I was unable to consume gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. This obviously eliminates a lot of common breads and pastas, but also a great deal of other prepared foods that use wheat based ingredients where you might not expect to find them like soups, sauces, or lunch meat. Not only will gluten make me sick, it actually creates an autoimmune response that damages the part of the body that absorbs nutrients from foods, which can lead to many other health problems down the line. I had no idea the lifelong research project that this diagnosis would turn into. I began questioning everything about product labeling and what exactly all these terms used on product labels really meant. I learned quite quickly, you simply cannot just believe everything you read.
I dug a little deeper into all of this when I became pregnant with my son and became more concerned about my exposure to chemicals. Now it was time to scrutinize ingredients in personal care items and household cleaners. This was overwhelming! EVERY item I was using contained chemicals and many ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce. Research taught me that what I grew up knowing as soap, wasn’t even soap at all, but chemical detergents. What?! Household cleaners were even worse yet. I was determined for the health of my family to find a way to reduce this list of chemicals/ingredients to a much smaller list of ingredients that I was familiar with. This was the beginning of our soap making journey.
What is a Natural Soap?Soaps and cosmetics have even less rules that apply to how they are labeled. The use of the word natural is not defined by any centralized authority, and so manufacturers are free to define it however they want. Manufacturers can call anything natural, it means even less than the words free range do in our example above. We do still use the words "all-natural" on those products of ours that it applies to, but we take a very conservative approach to what we consider to be all-natural products. We would not consider anything that uses dyes, fragrance, or most common preservatives to be natural. Well made natural products don't need any of these things. Our intent is to allow our customers to differentiate among our products if they wish. If you find one of our products with the all-natural label and it has an ingredient on it that you would not consider to be all-natural, we would like to hear from you.
Our Soap Making Journey
We began making soap and other products for ourselves, creating recipes using the best ingredients we could buy. We read books and educated ourselves and before we knew it we had wonderful recipes that our friends and family were raving about. We began this journey for ourselves using the best ingredients we could get our hands on. We never selected ingredients based on price, but based on the quality of the ingredient and the properties it would lend to the product we were making. We made everything from scratch to have complete control over every ingredient that went into each product we made. The quality of those products spoke for themselves.
Fast forward many years later and here we are today creating wonderful products for ourselves and having the amazing opportunity to share our creations with those who share our same beliefs. We are 100% transparent with our product labeling. We are very happy to have customers who purchase our products because they share our beliefs and repeat customers because they were happy with the product they purchased and because we gained their trust.