You Are At The Archives for 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012 in , ,

Personal Caring - Our Mission of Gratitude

Sometimes the things you don't know about someone might really surprise you.  Things like that their favorite food is brussels sprouts, that their middle name is Gertrude, or that they had a large collection of pet rocks in their formative years.

What if someone you knew wasn't able to afford food for their family right now?  Do you think they would tell you?  You might be surprised if you knew who was in need of help.

Four years ago my family couldn't afford both food and our mortgage.  For an entire year through the economy struggling and the beginning of a divorce I had to accept donations from local pantries in order to keep our household together.

This is probably not what you would expect.  From the outside it looks like I have a successful business and life going well, and right now I do.  Back then, though, things were a lot more tenuous and the economic meltdown hit us hard. 

My first foray to a pantry began with a once a month trip to the local Urban League chapter.  Anyone could go and receive 2 bags of food per month.   As the year progressed my then-husband's job gave him a recession related pay cut and my business continued to suffer major losses.  Soon a couple extra items didn't cover the gap as our finances became more stricken. 

We didn't technically qualify for food stamps - it looked like our family made too much money.  But the debts we owed and our dwindling income was just not enough to support our needs.  By spring we were almost entirely dependent on whatever we could procure on a biweekly basis from Our Lady of Perpetual Help and later in the year the St. Liborious Pantry.

I was hustling to find extra work but until I could do that the help tided us over and made it possible to keep our mortgage paid and out of jeopardy.  If I had lost the house Blissoma would have been gone too because it is also our office and production space.

Four years later I still have a house and my business is growing.  The temporary assistance helped us leap the gap between a crisis and the road forward. 

The important takeaway from this experience was the humbling knowledge that this could happen to anyone, and that in those moments of extreme desperation when you really need HELP the help you receive is sweet indeed, even if it is meager.  Government cheese, old bread, and canned veggies don't seem so bad when your other option is to give up on your entire home and work life.
 

My year of assistance also expanded my compassion greatly.  When you become one of the poor and see what life is like for those who desperately need assistance you realize how un-fun it is to be that hard up.  It's not pretty or glamorous.  No one would really choose a life at the bottom of the barrel, sometimes it just happens to you.  

If you are fortunate enough to have the resources to pay for your needs you are blessed indeed.  At this holiday time when everyone is thinking about the gifts they'd like to receive it might do well to remember that others would be happy just to have a nice bar of soap and maybe another box of macaroni.

My intention has been to pay back the assistance I accepted in work, food, and money, and hopefully far greater over time than what I initially used.  My current life would not be possible without the aid I received in my time of need.  That deserves a big thanks.


I wanted everyone to hear our story, and know that what you give through your local pantry drives makes a difference to someone.  You might be changing the course of a life for the better.  Those that gave to my local pantry blessed my family and business with another chance.

For the month of December Blissoma has created a campaign by which through your participation we will give our quality basic personal care items to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the pantry that helped us years ago.  We are asking for your help in sharing this mission, sharing our story, and helping us continue to grow so we can do more.  You don't have to purchase anything to participate - just enter and share the campaign.  In return you'll get a discount on our products and a chance at over $200 in gift certificates as a gratitude grand prize.

To read in full about our campaign and participate visit our Personal Caring app tab on Facebook.

You can also read the poem and blog post that I created at the end of our year of assistance, after I had time for the experience to soak into my psyche.

I hope you never need to accept pantry assistance.  But, should that particular path come to you, it will be such a comfort to know that help is there.

I wish you the happiest of holidays, and a table that is always full with food and friends.


in , ,

Personal Caring - Our Mission of Gratitude

Sometimes the things you don't know about someone might really surprise you.  Things like that their favorite food is brussels sprouts, that their middle name is Gertrude, or that they had a large collection of pet rocks in their formative years.

What if someone you knew wasn't able to afford food for their family right now?  Do you think they would tell you?  You might be surprised if you knew who was in need of help.

Four years ago my family couldn't afford both food and our mortgage.  For an entire year through the economy struggling and the beginning of a divorce I had to accept donations from local pantries in order to keep our household together.

This is probably not what you would expect.  From the outside it looks like I have a successful business and life going well, and right now I do.  Back then, though, things were a lot more tenuous and the economic meltdown hit us hard. 

My first foray to a pantry began with a once a month trip to the local Urban League chapter.  Anyone could go and receive 2 bags of food per month.   As the year progressed my then-husband's job gave him a recession related pay cut and my business continued to suffer major losses.  Soon a couple extra items didn't cover the gap as our finances became more stricken. 

We didn't technically qualify for food stamps - it looked like our family made too much money.  But the debts we owed and our dwindling income was just not enough to support our needs.  By spring we were almost entirely dependent on whatever we could procure on a biweekly basis from Our Lady of Perpetual Help and later in the year the St. Liborious Pantry.

I was hustling to find extra work but until I could do that the help tided us over and made it possible to keep our mortgage paid and out of jeopardy.  If I had lost the house Blissoma would have been gone too because it is also our office and production space.

Four years later I still have a house and my business is growing.  The temporary assistance helped us leap the gap between a crisis and the road forward. 

The important takeaway from this experience was the humbling knowledge that this could happen to anyone, and that in those moments of extreme desperation when you really need HELP the help you receive is sweet indeed, even if it is meager.  Government cheese, old bread, and canned veggies don't seem so bad when your other option is to give up on your entire home and work life.
 

My year of assistance also expanded my compassion greatly.  When you become one of the poor and see what life is like for those who desperately need assistance you realize how un-fun it is to be that hard up.  It's not pretty or glamorous.  No one would really choose a life at the bottom of the barrel, sometimes it just happens to you.  

If you are fortunate enough to have the resources to pay for your needs you are blessed indeed.  At this holiday time when everyone is thinking about the gifts they'd like to receive it might do well to remember that others would be happy just to have a nice bar of soap and maybe another box of macaroni.

My intention has been to pay back the assistance I accepted in work, food, and money, and hopefully far greater over time than what I initially used.  My current life would not be possible without the aid I received in my time of need.  That deserves a big thanks.


I wanted everyone to hear our story, and know that what you give through your local pantry drives makes a difference to someone.  You might be changing the course of a life for the better.  Those that gave to my local pantry blessed my family and business with another chance.

For the month of December Blissoma has created a campaign by which through your participation we will give our quality basic personal care items to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the pantry that helped us years ago.  We are asking for your help in sharing this mission, sharing our story, and helping us continue to grow so we can do more.  You don't have to purchase anything to participate - just enter and share the campaign.  In return you'll get a discount on our products and a chance at over $200 in gift certificates as a gratitude grand prize.

To read in full about our campaign and participate visit our Personal Caring app tab on Facebook.

You can also read the poem and blog post that I created at the end of our year of assistance, after I had time for the experience to soak into my psyche.

I hope you never need to accept pantry assistance.  But, should that particular path come to you, it will be such a comfort to know that help is there.

I wish you the happiest of holidays, and a table that is always full with food and friends.


Saturday, November 24, 2012 in , , , , ,

The Trick to Keeping Positive (even when it's positively grueling)

Positivity.  Happiness.  Joy.  
With so many different messages pushed our direction it's no wonder we end up confused and befuddled about why we still don't have lasting happiness.  After all, it's so easy, right?

Here's the word from a person usually seen publicly as a healing, inspirational, energetic, happy individual - Positivity is positively HARD sometimes.  Getting to happy and maintaining a light, bright mindset isn't always shiny.  In fact, sometimes it's like nails on a chalkboard, it's slogging through the mud, it's facing every icky, awful voice inside yourself and baring it in ways you might like to otherwise avoid.  It’s striving to give even when you feel like the whiny Kindergartener inside you would like to just throw a supernova style fit. 


I still struggle with the idea of whether happiness should be a constant state of being.  Sometimes I just feel sad – deeply, intensely sad, and a smile feels like an impossible feat.  I can feel like I’ve fallen pretty far down my very own little mucky hole.  The quiet of the weekends and holidays is a particularly trying time for me as it is when I am “supposed” to be happy and have fun.  Instead it feels like a giant letdown mixed up soup of stress blowout that I’ve been trying to ride through all week.  It tends to implode on me by Saturday morning.  Blah.  

Is this a personal weakness?  Does this mean I’m not nearly as spiritually secure and accomplished as I’d like to be?  Or is this acceptable and normal?  Does the Dalai Lama have “off” days?  I’m still wrestling with trying to divine answers to these things inside myself. 

What I do know is that recovering from these funkety-funk lows often takes every trick I know and they often feel like hard, hard work to a bummed out, low energy me.  Despite being a natural and holistic health advocate I often wish there were an easy way out too.  (Where did I put my magic wand?)  Recovery takes effort and often not a small bit.  Mental discipline is also the toughest at the moments when you need it the most.  

Even though I might feel like just wallowing in my lopsided mood I make myself meditate, do yoga, take a hot bath, employ some aromatherapy, repeat myself some positive mantras, fix some nourishing food that I know will boost my happy body chemistry, and what I honestly find to be most inspirational and tide-turning of all – look towards the other people in my life for a kick in the pants in the right direction.  

Chances are that with 300+ online friends someone else might be happy even while I’m feeling down.  Since I’ve surrounded myself with a large network of encouraging, intelligent, kind, growth-oriented and truth-seeking souls oftentimes my Facebook, Twitter, or blog feed has just what I’m needing that day offered by someone who was on the up-and-up with the happy vibes. 

When you’re feeling weak and low it might be time to let the smile of another bolster you.  If you have brought the right, reinforcing people into your life they’ll happily help keep you on the positive path.  Many times I have felt like others have been my guiding lights back out of the darkness, a little lifeline cast into the murky depths and towing me back to the boat.  Often all they need to do is just show they are gamely going through their days the best they can, and just by being another empathetic example I don’t feel so alone.  Sometimes like in this blog post by Juliana of the Peaceful Peacock called How to Be Courageous the message is much more direct – get up, dammit, no excuses.   

Over time the wisdom offered by friends has saved me from sadness more times than I can count.  They fill my empty cup and quaff my thirst.   

“Reach out your hand if your cup be empty.  If your cup is full may it be again.”  Robert Hunter, Ripple

Jasper Jones, a novel by Craig Silvey, features a key conversation between Charlie and his best friend about who is the better superhero, Superman or Batman.  Charlie's friend argues that Superman is better because of all his powers.  Charlie argues back that Batman is the greater hero because he’s just a regular guy who decides to do the right thing.  Because he isn’t invulnerable it is the courage to still stand against all that is evil despite being only human that elevates Batman.  I’ve kept this conversation close in my heart since reading it.  While I’m no Batman I do attempt to keep Batman style courage fervently in mind as I’m standing each day against my challenges.  I don’t have to be superhuman, I just have to keep striving.

In the end when the good side wins it’s because those who stand in hope and love never truly stand alone.  You may be out there at the forefront of your life battling your worst fears and feeling awfully exposed, but if you look just next to you I think you’ll find there’s someone else engaged in the same struggle.  They want to see you win, and the gift of continuing your own struggle is that they might see through to the victory in theirs as well.  Don’t give up, for goodness sake.  We all win when you keep at it. 
  

I’m not perfect.  I’m not even positive all the time.  But dang it I’m out here trying.  My deepest gratitude goes to those who have gone before me as my teachers and guides.  Because of  your light my way has been a little brighter and my progress more possible.  I hope I can cast a line for a few others and pay the positive forward.  Soul warriors, spirit seekers, troubadours, lovers, and those awakening to all the possibilities – you’ve got a friend, and I hope that brings you Happiness.


in , , , , ,

The Trick to Keeping Positive (even when it's positively grueling)

Positivity.  Happiness.  Joy.  
With so many different messages pushed our direction it's no wonder we end up confused and befuddled about why we still don't have lasting happiness.  After all, it's so easy, right?

Here's the word from a person usually seen publicly as a healing, inspirational, energetic, happy individual - Positivity is positively HARD sometimes.  Getting to happy and maintaining a light, bright mindset isn't always shiny.  In fact, sometimes it's like nails on a chalkboard, it's slogging through the mud, it's facing every icky, awful voice inside yourself and baring it in ways you might like to otherwise avoid.  It’s striving to give even when you feel like the whiny Kindergartener inside you would like to just throw a supernova style fit. 


I still struggle with the idea of whether happiness should be a constant state of being.  Sometimes I just feel sad – deeply, intensely sad, and a smile feels like an impossible feat.  I can feel like I’ve fallen pretty far down my very own little mucky hole.  The quiet of the weekends and holidays is a particularly trying time for me as it is when I am “supposed” to be happy and have fun.  Instead it feels like a giant letdown mixed up soup of stress blowout that I’ve been trying to ride through all week.  It tends to implode on me by Saturday morning.  Blah.  

Is this a personal weakness?  Does this mean I’m not nearly as spiritually secure and accomplished as I’d like to be?  Or is this acceptable and normal?  Does the Dalai Lama have “off” days?  I’m still wrestling with trying to divine answers to these things inside myself. 

What I do know is that recovering from these funkety-funk lows often takes every trick I know and they often feel like hard, hard work to a bummed out, low energy me.  Despite being a natural and holistic health advocate I often wish there were an easy way out too.  (Where did I put my magic wand?)  Recovery takes effort and often not a small bit.  Mental discipline is also the toughest at the moments when you need it the most.  

Even though I might feel like just wallowing in my lopsided mood I make myself meditate, do yoga, take a hot bath, employ some aromatherapy, repeat myself some positive mantras, fix some nourishing food that I know will boost my happy body chemistry, and what I honestly find to be most inspirational and tide-turning of all – look towards the other people in my life for a kick in the pants in the right direction.  

Chances are that with 300+ online friends someone else might be happy even while I’m feeling down.  Since I’ve surrounded myself with a large network of encouraging, intelligent, kind, growth-oriented and truth-seeking souls oftentimes my Facebook, Twitter, or blog feed has just what I’m needing that day offered by someone who was on the up-and-up with the happy vibes. 

When you’re feeling weak and low it might be time to let the smile of another bolster you.  If you have brought the right, reinforcing people into your life they’ll happily help keep you on the positive path.  Many times I have felt like others have been my guiding lights back out of the darkness, a little lifeline cast into the murky depths and towing me back to the boat.  Often all they need to do is just show they are gamely going through their days the best they can, and just by being another empathetic example I don’t feel so alone.  Sometimes like in this blog post by Juliana of the Peaceful Peacock called How to Be Courageous the message is much more direct – get up, dammit, no excuses.   

Over time the wisdom offered by friends has saved me from sadness more times than I can count.  They fill my empty cup and quaff my thirst.   

“Reach out your hand if your cup be empty.  If your cup is full may it be again.”  Robert Hunter, Ripple

Jasper Jones, a novel by Craig Silvey, features a key conversation between Charlie and his best friend about who is the better superhero, Superman or Batman.  Charlie's friend argues that Superman is better because of all his powers.  Charlie argues back that Batman is the greater hero because he’s just a regular guy who decides to do the right thing.  Because he isn’t invulnerable it is the courage to still stand against all that is evil despite being only human that elevates Batman.  I’ve kept this conversation close in my heart since reading it.  While I’m no Batman I do attempt to keep Batman style courage fervently in mind as I’m standing each day against my challenges.  I don’t have to be superhuman, I just have to keep striving.

In the end when the good side wins it’s because those who stand in hope and love never truly stand alone.  You may be out there at the forefront of your life battling your worst fears and feeling awfully exposed, but if you look just next to you I think you’ll find there’s someone else engaged in the same struggle.  They want to see you win, and the gift of continuing your own struggle is that they might see through to the victory in theirs as well.  Don’t give up, for goodness sake.  We all win when you keep at it. 
  

I’m not perfect.  I’m not even positive all the time.  But dang it I’m out here trying.  My deepest gratitude goes to those who have gone before me as my teachers and guides.  Because of  your light my way has been a little brighter and my progress more possible.  I hope I can cast a line for a few others and pay the positive forward.  Soul warriors, spirit seekers, troubadours, lovers, and those awakening to all the possibilities – you’ve got a friend, and I hope that brings you Happiness.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012 in , , , ,

Natural and organic skincare comes to Chicago via Blissoma and If a Goddess Wore Makeup

Chicago has a surprising shortage of natural skincare options for such a large city.  As Blissoma has officially ended our relationship with Whole Foods Markets due to philosophical and practical differences we needed to re-establish a solid location in the Windy City where our clients could access our line. 
  
Veteran makeup artist Sheila Hansen solidly occupies the urban and independent natural beauty niche in Chicago so we were thrilled when she suggested we collaborate with her business If a Goddess Wore Makeup.  Together we cooked up a concept for the Blissoma Mini-Store inside her space at the Andersonville Galleria.  

Today we're proud to tell you that our full skincare range is available for purchase for you again in one cool and easy location.  

You'll find Blissoma in our very own cabinet on the Mezzanine level with If a Goddess Wore Makeup.  We fully stocked our cabinet with every product in our SOLUTIONS natural skincare facial range, our natural deodorants, Yoga Mat Cleanser, and the one we know the urban folk don't want to be without - Stress Relief Serum.  



No more wondering if the store near you has the item you are seeking!  It's all there in one spot.  We'll be restocking regularly with the freshest stuff direct from our St. Louis production studio so you'll always get the most active botanicals and the best results.



Sheila is there in her space to serve clients in person Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and by appointment.  She stocks natural makeup and has all the knowledge to guide you through the right choices for your natural beauty needs.  We're proud to be the perfect skincare complement to her decorative products.  Blissoma skincare will leave your face perfectly moisturized, plumped, soft, and ready for color.  Our new sensitive skin gel cleanser and makeup remover Free will take off all the tough waterproof makeup you apply in a day.




 
Sheila has 25 years of experience and was trained by celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown.  She's also a certified herbal therapist so she really knows her stuff.  For advice on the right treatments for your skin to create the perfect look there's nobody better in Chicago to ask.  We also think she is a shining and gorgeous example of the power of natural lifestyle habits and beauty routines.  Look at that brilliant smile!


The Andersonville Galleria is a hip, unique, and diverse place to shop.  It's locally owned and features handmade, original work from some of Chicago's finest artisans.  You'll find much more than just skincare and makeup here to love and we feel like we fit right in.  There's clothing, purses, paintings, chocolate, scarves and every gift you could possibly wish for this holiday season.  The best part is it is all unique and keeps your shopping dollars going to local, quality businesses who are contributing to their community.



We'll be planning trips back up to Chicago in the future so you can speak with us in person if you want.  Keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter if you want the most up to the minute news on where we'll be, specials, new products and more.

Thank you Chicago for a wonderful new beginning. 



in , , , ,

Natural and organic skincare comes to Chicago via Blissoma and If a Goddess Wore Makeup

Chicago has a surprising shortage of natural skincare options for such a large city.  As Blissoma has officially ended our relationship with Whole Foods Markets due to philosophical and practical differences we needed to re-establish a solid location in the Windy City where our clients could access our line. 
  
Veteran makeup artist Sheila Hansen solidly occupies the urban and independent natural beauty niche in Chicago so we were thrilled when she suggested we collaborate with her business If a Goddess Wore Makeup.  Together we cooked up a concept for the Blissoma Mini-Store inside her space at the Andersonville Galleria.  

Today we're proud to tell you that our full skincare range is available for purchase for you again in one cool and easy location.  

You'll find Blissoma in our very own cabinet on the Mezzanine level with If a Goddess Wore Makeup.  We fully stocked our cabinet with every product in our SOLUTIONS natural skincare facial range, our natural deodorants, Yoga Mat Cleanser, and the one we know the urban folk don't want to be without - Stress Relief Serum.  



No more wondering if the store near you has the item you are seeking!  It's all there in one spot.  We'll be restocking regularly with the freshest stuff direct from our St. Louis production studio so you'll always get the most active botanicals and the best results.



Sheila is there in her space to serve clients in person Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and by appointment.  She stocks natural makeup and has all the knowledge to guide you through the right choices for your natural beauty needs.  We're proud to be the perfect skincare complement to her decorative products.  Blissoma skincare will leave your face perfectly moisturized, plumped, soft, and ready for color.  Our new sensitive skin gel cleanser and makeup remover Free will take off all the tough waterproof makeup you apply in a day.




 
Sheila has 25 years of experience and was trained by celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown.  She's also a certified herbal therapist so she really knows her stuff.  For advice on the right treatments for your skin to create the perfect look there's nobody better in Chicago to ask.  We also think she is a shining and gorgeous example of the power of natural lifestyle habits and beauty routines.  Look at that brilliant smile!


The Andersonville Galleria is a hip, unique, and diverse place to shop.  It's locally owned and features handmade, original work from some of Chicago's finest artisans.  You'll find much more than just skincare and makeup here to love and we feel like we fit right in.  There's clothing, purses, paintings, chocolate, scarves and every gift you could possibly wish for this holiday season.  The best part is it is all unique and keeps your shopping dollars going to local, quality businesses who are contributing to their community.



We'll be planning trips back up to Chicago in the future so you can speak with us in person if you want.  Keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter if you want the most up to the minute news on where we'll be, specials, new products and more.

Thank you Chicago for a wonderful new beginning. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2012 in , , , , , , , ,

Autumn Aromatherapy // What (and What Not) To Do


A change of seasons brings a fresh feel in the air, a softer color to the light as it's filtered through colored leaves, and a shift in our moods and cravings. The advent of fall also brings a return to work routines and many gatherings, both professional and just for fun. It always seems to go so fast, and you want to treasure each moment of carefree comfort. You can relish sitting on the porch in the evening with just a light jacket, gabbing with friends and stargazing into the cool autumn sky. The only chill you really get is just enough to make an excuse to snuggle closer to your date, who if you're lucky smells a little woodsy.

If you surround yourself with aromas apropos to fall it will help you to create rich, striking memories of this special time. Your sense of smell ties directly into the part of your brain where memories are stored, so it makes a perfect way to enhance your experience of seasonality...  

Writing and pictures by yours truly with tips on great online suppliers, which natural essential oils to use, and ways to use them for get-togethers, home, and the office.  Mmmmm...Smells like fall to me.



in , , , , , , , ,

Autumn Aromatherapy // What (and What Not) To Do


A change of seasons brings a fresh feel in the air, a softer color to the light as it's filtered through colored leaves, and a shift in our moods and cravings. The advent of fall also brings a return to work routines and many gatherings, both professional and just for fun. It always seems to go so fast, and you want to treasure each moment of carefree comfort. You can relish sitting on the porch in the evening with just a light jacket, gabbing with friends and stargazing into the cool autumn sky. The only chill you really get is just enough to make an excuse to snuggle closer to your date, who if you're lucky smells a little woodsy.

If you surround yourself with aromas apropos to fall it will help you to create rich, striking memories of this special time. Your sense of smell ties directly into the part of your brain where memories are stored, so it makes a perfect way to enhance your experience of seasonality...  

Writing and pictures by yours truly with tips on great online suppliers, which natural essential oils to use, and ways to use them for get-togethers, home, and the office.  Mmmmm...Smells like fall to me.



Monday, August 13, 2012 in , , , , , , , ,

"Clean" and "Green" beauty, science, and comic book characters - Part 2, Irradiation and you.

Irradiated foods have long been a subject of controversy and outrage in the organic industry, and the process is not allowed for organic foods.  Foods aren't the only things being treated with Gamma Rays, however.  I was surprised to find out how many things we may be using unsuspectingly that have actually been irradiated.  Meats, fruits, vegetables, single use medical equipment, cotton balls, swabs, bandages, ointments, tongue depressers... the list goes on.

(You can catch Part 1 of this dual post on cosmetic packaging and irradiation here by the way.)

As I would find out while reading up on irradiation, Gamma Rays are produced by a radioactive isotope called Cobalt 60.  It produces high energy photons that are disruptive to the DNA and structure of living things.  This is why they are capable of sterilizing.  The DNA of the microbe is broken down during treatment and it is unable to recover.  The FDA limits the energy levels the radioactive material can emit.  The permitted radioactivity level makes the gamma rays pass straight through the treated material and leave it with no residual radioactivity.  Essentially it isn't strong enough to knock apart the atoms in the treated material and destabilize them.  It's sort of like an X-ray that way.

Items are brought into the facility, exposed to radiation, and dosimeters indicate when the required amount has been achieved.  They are then removed and sent off to their consumer or industrial destinations.

So if this process doesn't create radioactivity in the final product why all the fuss?  Some sites will tell you it is perfectly safe, and in fact makes our food safer.  Food poisoning that has erupted from contaminated meats might be avoided with a little irradiation.  The E. Coli contaminated spinach outbreak comes to mind, and produce is something that is irradiated.

Organic enthusiasts know though that one of the main reasons we have massive problems with killer bacteria on our foods now is the way our food system is structured.  Livestock farms are generating massive amounts of manure too great to be composted, which is leading a lot of it into unexpected places in our water supplies and from that contaminated water into our food distribution.  According to Food and Water Watch it is "...an estimated 500 million tons of manure each year, more than three times the sewage produced by the entire U.S. human population."  This is a major source of E. Coli contamination, and one of the reasons for concern about food cleanliness.  Maybe that problem would be best addressed at the source rather than trying to fix it after the fact.
Organic regulations do not allow for irradiation.  Period.  Why?  The objections are heavily based on nutrient depletion, chemical by-products of the radioactive exposure that may then exist in the foods, lack of clarity about long-term safety, and the fact that the food industry is basically covering up cleanliness issues it should be addressing in more appropriate ways.  For a full breakdown of the Organic Consumers opinion on this topic see their page.

Regardless of what the contrasting opinions are and the arguments for its benefits I knew this was something we would never consider doing, even to a piece of plastic.  The process was cumbersome, the hazards to environment and workers huge, and it isn't allowed for organics.  While our product line isn't certified we hold to organic standards in the handling of all our botanical materials, studio cleaning procedures, and even pest control.  All told, no Gamma Rays happening here at Blissoma, folks.

The other really disturbing thing that I found out during this entire inquiry process is that TWO separate packaging suppliers told me that it was highly irregular that we were doing anything to clean our closure components at all.  What?

I could write it off if one source told me that, but two unrelated companies were surprised when we asked about appropriate cleaning procedures for closures.  According to both of those sources the industry standard is just to use the pumps and bottles straight out of the cases.  I was shocked.  They may come out of the cases without gunk stuck to them, but the moment someone sneezes or touches them they've got microbes on them, some that may be disease causing pathogens. 

It's possible that many mainstream product manufacturers just use preservation in high enough doses that they know that a little contaminant on the pump or bottle isn't going to cause a problem.  After all, many high end face creams are still sold in jars - it's actually the way a "classic", miraculous face cream is usually presented to customers.  If you are sticking your fingers in it every day and it keeps for 3 to 5 years there's some serious preservatives going on.  A dirty closure is not unlike a dirty finger.  (By the way, if you use a cream out of a jar this is a point worth considering.  You might want to use a little disposable spatula instead of that bacteria-ridden finger!)

Blissoma's recipes aren't like that, and while they are preserved the system can be overwhelmed if the amount of initial microbe contamination is too high.  Not to mention the goal is to produce the cleanest possible product.  Duh.  This is partly why we have created a full line of moisturizers that are fluid enough to be pumped.  They are protected from environmental contamination once packaged.  With natural preservation the packaging choice is just part of the full "hurdle" plan to keep a product fresh for the customer.  The more barriers to contamination the better.  Again, the lack of cleaning procedure alleged by these packaging suppliers seems like laziness on the part of industry not unlike irradiation to ensure foods are clean.  Overpreserving and not cleaning components doesn't address the root cause of the contamination.

Because we are committed to using organic approved, nontoxic, environmentally sound handling methods we had to devise our own new way to clean our pumps.  For pumps that can't handle steam we are now using organic alcohol to clean them.  The pumps are immersed and then the alcohol is allowed to evaporate before the pump is applied to the product.  It's time consuming but I feel satisfied that we've done what is right for both our processes and our end product.

The takeaway from this is that I wanted to share our process with you, our community.  Also, like me, there may be many people surprised at the use of radiation to treat so many common objects.

So what do you think?  Are you as surprised as I was that Gamma Rays are such a common treatment?  What did you previously know about food irradiation?  How do you feel about irradiation being used to treat cotton balls, bandaids, and the like?  Is it acceptable to you when applied to something that is not a food? 

And how do you feel knowing that major cosmetic manufacturers are not necessarily doing anything to clean their packaging prior to bottling product?  Do you feel fine?  Or does that make you go "hunh?"  Or are you not surprised at all considering the use of so many unstudied chemicals and questionable consumer safety related practices anyway? 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.  Sound off and share, s'il vous plait.  As always, love to you.
 

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"Clean" and "Green" beauty, science, and comic book characters - Part 2, Irradiation and you.

Irradiated foods have long been a subject of controversy and outrage in the organic industry, and the process is not allowed for organic foods.  Foods aren't the only things being treated with Gamma Rays, however.  I was surprised to find out how many things we may be using unsuspectingly that have actually been irradiated.  Meats, fruits, vegetables, single use medical equipment, cotton balls, swabs, bandages, ointments, tongue depressers... the list goes on.

(You can catch Part 1 of this dual post on cosmetic packaging and irradiation here by the way.)

As I would find out while reading up on irradiation, Gamma Rays are produced by a radioactive isotope called Cobalt 60.  It produces high energy photons that are disruptive to the DNA and structure of living things.  This is why they are capable of sterilizing.  The DNA of the microbe is broken down during treatment and it is unable to recover.  The FDA limits the energy levels the radioactive material can emit.  The permitted radioactivity level makes the gamma rays pass straight through the treated material and leave it with no residual radioactivity.  Essentially it isn't strong enough to knock apart the atoms in the treated material and destabilize them.  It's sort of like an X-ray that way.

Items are brought into the facility, exposed to radiation, and dosimeters indicate when the required amount has been achieved.  They are then removed and sent off to their consumer or industrial destinations.

So if this process doesn't create radioactivity in the final product why all the fuss?  Some sites will tell you it is perfectly safe, and in fact makes our food safer.  Food poisoning that has erupted from contaminated meats might be avoided with a little irradiation.  The E. Coli contaminated spinach outbreak comes to mind, and produce is something that is irradiated.

Organic enthusiasts know though that one of the main reasons we have massive problems with killer bacteria on our foods now is the way our food system is structured.  Livestock farms are generating massive amounts of manure too great to be composted, which is leading a lot of it into unexpected places in our water supplies and from that contaminated water into our food distribution.  According to Food and Water Watch it is "...an estimated 500 million tons of manure each year, more than three times the sewage produced by the entire U.S. human population."  This is a major source of E. Coli contamination, and one of the reasons for concern about food cleanliness.  Maybe that problem would be best addressed at the source rather than trying to fix it after the fact.
Organic regulations do not allow for irradiation.  Period.  Why?  The objections are heavily based on nutrient depletion, chemical by-products of the radioactive exposure that may then exist in the foods, lack of clarity about long-term safety, and the fact that the food industry is basically covering up cleanliness issues it should be addressing in more appropriate ways.  For a full breakdown of the Organic Consumers opinion on this topic see their page.

Regardless of what the contrasting opinions are and the arguments for its benefits I knew this was something we would never consider doing, even to a piece of plastic.  The process was cumbersome, the hazards to environment and workers huge, and it isn't allowed for organics.  While our product line isn't certified we hold to organic standards in the handling of all our botanical materials, studio cleaning procedures, and even pest control.  All told, no Gamma Rays happening here at Blissoma, folks.

The other really disturbing thing that I found out during this entire inquiry process is that TWO separate packaging suppliers told me that it was highly irregular that we were doing anything to clean our closure components at all.  What?

I could write it off if one source told me that, but two unrelated companies were surprised when we asked about appropriate cleaning procedures for closures.  According to both of those sources the industry standard is just to use the pumps and bottles straight out of the cases.  I was shocked.  They may come out of the cases without gunk stuck to them, but the moment someone sneezes or touches them they've got microbes on them, some that may be disease causing pathogens. 

It's possible that many mainstream product manufacturers just use preservation in high enough doses that they know that a little contaminant on the pump or bottle isn't going to cause a problem.  After all, many high end face creams are still sold in jars - it's actually the way a "classic", miraculous face cream is usually presented to customers.  If you are sticking your fingers in it every day and it keeps for 3 to 5 years there's some serious preservatives going on.  A dirty closure is not unlike a dirty finger.  (By the way, if you use a cream out of a jar this is a point worth considering.  You might want to use a little disposable spatula instead of that bacteria-ridden finger!)

Blissoma's recipes aren't like that, and while they are preserved the system can be overwhelmed if the amount of initial microbe contamination is too high.  Not to mention the goal is to produce the cleanest possible product.  Duh.  This is partly why we have created a full line of moisturizers that are fluid enough to be pumped.  They are protected from environmental contamination once packaged.  With natural preservation the packaging choice is just part of the full "hurdle" plan to keep a product fresh for the customer.  The more barriers to contamination the better.  Again, the lack of cleaning procedure alleged by these packaging suppliers seems like laziness on the part of industry not unlike irradiation to ensure foods are clean.  Overpreserving and not cleaning components doesn't address the root cause of the contamination.

Because we are committed to using organic approved, nontoxic, environmentally sound handling methods we had to devise our own new way to clean our pumps.  For pumps that can't handle steam we are now using organic alcohol to clean them.  The pumps are immersed and then the alcohol is allowed to evaporate before the pump is applied to the product.  It's time consuming but I feel satisfied that we've done what is right for both our processes and our end product.

The takeaway from this is that I wanted to share our process with you, our community.  Also, like me, there may be many people surprised at the use of radiation to treat so many common objects.

So what do you think?  Are you as surprised as I was that Gamma Rays are such a common treatment?  What did you previously know about food irradiation?  How do you feel about irradiation being used to treat cotton balls, bandaids, and the like?  Is it acceptable to you when applied to something that is not a food? 

And how do you feel knowing that major cosmetic manufacturers are not necessarily doing anything to clean their packaging prior to bottling product?  Do you feel fine?  Or does that make you go "hunh?"  Or are you not surprised at all considering the use of so many unstudied chemicals and questionable consumer safety related practices anyway? 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.  Sound off and share, s'il vous plait.  As always, love to you.
 

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