Here in Wisconsin there have been a few signs that our season is about to change. Crickets magically appear in the basement. A few leaves have decided that they've had enough of chlorophyll. Kids are back in school. Football has started. The nights are cooler which means I've been digging in my closet looking for forgotten sweatshirts. And sitting around the fire pit with an Oktoberfest beer in hand is the highlight at the end of a long week.
We've had an unusually hot and humid summer. I've lived in Wisconsin my entire life and I don't ever remember a summer that could cause you to sweat just by breathing. I love summer and gave it all I could to not complain about that gosh darn humidity. But it was oppressive at times. It was a challenge to dry our cranberry seeds with so much humidity in the air. It felt as though we were working in a sweat shop. We do have labor laws about that right?
I'm not sure I'd be happy living in a state that doesn't experience the 4 seasons. There is something so refreshing, so renewing, about the change. Each season brings it's own to do list and a menu of activities to choose from. We also get a host of chores that must be done before the next season appears. We are hardy as Wisconsinites and we know that we have to be prepared. I spent today putting away a few pieces of outdoor furniture, painting the front door, washing windows and hauling firewood. I also had the urge to make chicken noodle soup. Strange things happen when the thermometer barely reaches 70 degrees.
Things are happening quickly on our marsh as we prepare for harvest in just a few weeks. We've been interviewing for harvest help, taking water and berry samples to be tested, checking on harvest equipment, talking with brokers, and preparing for our food safety audit.
Sunshine and cooler weather help the berries turn from green to red. But this also means that someone has to stand guard and make sure that the berries don't freeze. Once it gets to about 35 degrees we fire up the irrigation to protect the crop from frost. Luckily, I've never been burdened with that job. A wise woman once said "never learn to drive the tractor". In this case, I never learned how to turn on the irrigation. Probably similar to how my husband doesn't know how to run the dishwasher...
So now we sit and wait on those little berries. They will let us know when they are ready by turning bright red. I guess it's when they have had enough of this season and are ready to take a long winters nap.
How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought, "I wish my lips were fuller" or "if I could only lose 10 pounds" or "why does my hair have to be so thin"? We are certainly our own worse critic. Our society has become obsessed with the way things look. This includes our bodies, our homes, cars, lawn, food and even beauty products.
Think back to a time when brand named clothing wasn't important (this would be before my time as I had to have an Eclipse sweater. Gawd!). As long as you were clean and presentable - no one judged. Homes were modest and functional. Women weren't scouring through images on pinterest trying to make their homes match the latest decorating trend. Men went out and cut the lawn. No services came to spray chemicals on the sparse grass that the kids played on. Food was homegrown or purchased locally. A few bruises on an apple. No problem. Cucumbers are small this year? That's okay. They'll make great pickles.
Don't get me wrong I am as guilty as the next when it comes to wanting things to be perfect.
This is a typical day. First, I spend way too much time every morning putting on makeup and fixing my hair. Then I'll stand in my closet and profess that I have nothing to wear even though it is overflowing with clothing. Now it's time for breakfast, I grab a banana off the counter but first inspect it for any bruises.
Well. I hate bruised fruit. Even though I'm sure it tastes fine - but it looks icky.
I look down at my shoes and notice that they are looking worn even though they are comfortable as I slip my 'need a pedicure toes' into them. I get into my reliable car that has gotten me safely and comfortably from Point A to Point B for over 7 years and realize that it really needs a good vacuuming or maybe better yet it's time for a shiny new car! I arrive at the office and notice that someone left their huge hand print on the door. Again.
The stress all this presentation brings. And I don't even have little kids anymore. I really feel for you young moms out there. I feel like you are being pressured into creating this illusion of perfectly, themed, crafty, organized child rearing. It all starts with the Gender Reveal Party. What the heck is that all about? When I had my kids, the gender reveal was the doctor exclaiming "It's a boy!"
Oh, and what about the birthday parties you mama's are expected to throw every year for your children? I've seen less event planning at weddings. Then there's Naughty Elf, and elaborate scrap booking, and special clothing for important holidays (like St. Patrick's Day) that you stayed up until midnight to create. When my kids were little I felt accomplished if their diapers were clean and they were fed. I'm not sure I could live up to today's parenting standards and still have my sanity.
But I digress.
The reason I am on this tangent today is because I have entered this new realm of Natural Products. I have been working on creating products that are void of chemicals and nasty things that can give you cancer. I see why skin care companies have resorted to using chemicals. Chemicals make lotions softer. Chemicals are lot cheaper than wholesome natural products. Chemicals also keep products from separating (so you don't need to stir or shake before use). Chemicals give skin care products a life longer than I've been driving my car. Chemicals give products that wonderful smell and texture you've come to expect.
But at what cost?
Did you know that fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets, so brands don't have to disclose what's in there. The only rule is that they cannot use chemicals that are banned. But here's a little fact that I find interesting: The European Union has banned over 1300 substances for use in cosmetics. These substances are known to cause a myriad of reactions from headaches to central nervous disorders.
How many has the United States banned?
11! Eleven. Ten fingers and 1 toe. That's how many. Don't believe me? You can read for yourself here: Beauty By Earth
Since I have been making a conscious effort to get rid of toxins in our home, I've been amazed at how my sense of smell has changed. I find heavy perfumy smells nasty. I don't even wear perfume anymore. I've stopped using fragrance candles that essentially fill the air with chemicals and I bought a diffuser instead. Just recently I up'd my game and I switched from dryer sheets to wool dryer balls. Works the same as dryer sheets but now my clothes and the air in the house aren't laden with chemicals. Score.
So I ask you to think about this... As Americans we are slowly killing ourselves with the need to have things look and smell perfect. We have become blind to the fact that big corporations don't really care if an ingredient is a known carcinogen. We are so gullible as we slather an $80 cream on our face thinking that it is making us "better". When in reality it could be causing your weight gain, hyper-pigmentation of your skin, or even fatigue. Read more: Deadly Scent.
It's a really hard habit to get out of. I like my grass green, my fruit perfect and all my girly stuff that makes me feel purdy!
That's all. Let's try to be less perfect, care less about presentation, and focus on healthy products for ourselves and family.
Think local. Read labels. Be informed. Hug your farmer.
Every year at the end of harvest, my husband will undoubtedly say to me "It won't be long and we'll be harvesting these little red buggers again". At which point, I give him my annoyed look as I'm exhausted, want life to get back to normal, and don't even want to think about next years harvest. Pulease!
But he's right. It's odd how life seems to speed up the older you get.
I remember being a child during a long hot summer. Unlike today's children, my day wasn't strategically mapped out by my parents. I wasn't being rushed off to t-ball, gymnastics, swimming lessons and play dates all in one day. Instead I had to figure out a way to entertain myself. That meant playing with dolls for hours at a time, dressing my little sister up in funny clothes, running through sprinklers, begging my dad to take us for ice cream, and at night playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. I remember that a single day seemed to take forever. Summer seemed endless. If there was a big event coming up next week - that week felt like torture.
Remember when an hour ride seemed as though you took a trip to the moon. Are we there yet?! How 'bout now?
But as we age, our perception of how long an hour, day, month or year changes. We begin to realize the importance of time. We can see it in our growing children and our aging parents. If only there was an app for slowing time down. Wait! I want to enjoy this moment a little longer.
Recently my husband and I were checking on things at our organic marsh. Which really means I ride along and watch as he jumps in and out of the truck to inspect vines, turn on pumps or fix sprinklers. Just being honest. I do however give my opinion now and then, even if it isn't requested.
I was perched in the air conditioned cab of the truck admiring the beautiful pink bloom canvasing the cranberry beds. And I thought "nature is amazing". It's a spectacular cycle that plants go through. And we really should slow down and take the time to appreciate it. How awesome is it that this tiny pink flower turns into a tiny green berry and then eventually a tart red berry?
Did you know that the name cranberry comes from the original name of Craneberry? The small, pink blossoms resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill Crane.
Here is a picture of some of our hardest working employees. The honey bees. For very little pay the females work the beds every day. They not only pollinate our crop while collecting pollen but they also are responsible for feeding, cleaning, nursing and defending the hive. Meanwhile the male bees sit around and try to mate with the queen. I imagine the male bees in those tiny boxes drinking beer and watching baseball. Humph.
But as with most farming there are a lot of factors that can affect your crop. Hail, drought, disease, frost, and insects can wreck havoc on those berries. My husband and son put in long days to make sure that our cranberries are protected and well taken care of. And if all goes well, in the blink of an eye, we WILL be harvesting those little red buggers again.
So take some time to slow down. Enjoy the moment you're in. Hug your littles. Call your mama. Have lunch with a friend. Because until there's app for slowing down time it just keeps marching on faster and faster.
For as long as I can remember, I have been cursed with this itchy, scaly, nasty rash professionally known as ECZEMA. Thank goodness I only have it on my hands. And using key words from the title I'm sure you can guess which part of my hand.
If you are one of the fortunate ones to not be afflicted with this skin condition, let me fill you in. For me, eczema isn't a constant. I can go weeks even a month or two at time with clear skin. But it likes to rear it's ugly head when my hands have been in water too much. Whether it's something dreadful like dish washing or something I live for like frolicking in the ocean. Okay, I've never frolicked but it sounds fun.
I do wear rubber gloves when I'm cleaning but wouldn't you know the rubber or latex also aggravates my eczema. This is especially true at harvest time when I'm wrist deep in crimson colored cranberries as they travel along our conveyor belts. I have to wear gloves for food safety but the entire time I'm thinking about that nasty SOB eczema who is always lurking. Ready to attack and usually does.
But it doesn't have to be harvest time, cleaning time or even frolicking time.
Sometimes my eczema just likes to barge in for no apparent reason. "Oh, you again." I say. "What the heck do you want?"
My hand doesn't talk back but if it could I'm sure it'd say something like this. "Hey, whatsup? Thought I'd stop by for a bit, maybe longer. I'm about to aggravate the shit out of you. Do you have something nearby to scratch with because you're going to need it. I plan on making your hand look like raw hamburger. Everything you put on it is going to hurt. Ha. You better plan on at least a few weeks to get it under control. Do you still have enough of your prescription left? I'm hoping not. Well, let's get started. Pop. Pop. Pop."
That's how it starts. Out of the blue. Pop. A blister like thing appears. Pop. Another. Pop. Several more. Oh, and do these little buggers itch! I'm not talking mosquito bite kind of itch. I'm talking about chicken pox kind of itch. Isn't it sad that a good portion of you reading this have no reference for that? That was a right of passage when I was little. Let's have a chicken pox party. What were our parents thinking?
So, now you can imagine several blisters appearing that itch like nothing you've ever felt (well unless you've had chicken pox). You can't NOT scratch. No one has that kind of will power. There have been many times in my life when I've tried to fight the urge to scratch. And then all of sudden, much like a cat ready to pounce, ugh you give in. You'll find anything to scratch with because fingers just aren't enough. Once when I was about 8, I remember I gave into the itching and started to rub my palm on the arm of our recliner. Before that itch was relieved, I had actually pulled the cloth of the chair free from it's stitching. I told my mom that the cat did it.
That's how intense the itch can be. It is no laughing matter or for the feeble minded. Seriously.
Once you give in to the itching (and most will), the blisters pop and what you're left with is red raw skin. That's when the rash starts to spread like wild fire. The rash will last anywhere from 2-3 weeks if I'm lucky enough to not develop new blisters. I've tried everything thru the years and have seen many dermatologists. I have a prescription that seems to work when the rash appears. It has been what has gotten me through this thing called life (yes I'm a Prince fan).
It's called BETAMETHASONE DIPROPIONATE or Diprolene Lotion. (Or lovingly referred to as Beta Dip by the pharmacist.) I found this interesting when I researched the drug that I've been using for well over a decade: "Common side effects of Diprolene Lotion include burning, itching, irritation, redness, dryness, or peeling at the application site when first applied to the skin. This should disappear in a few days as your body adjusts to Diprolene Lotion. Other side effects of Diprolene Lotion include thinning of your skin, blistering skin, or stretch marks." Click here to read more.
So THAT'S why whenever I'm seeing a doctor they call in the interns to observe my hands. Then in secret code, using words I don't understand, they talk about how thin the skin is on my palms. They act as if they have never seen such atrocities as their fingers follow the many lines on my hands. I think I hear them do an evil chuckle but I'm not sure. And why am I putting a lotion on my itchy hands that can blister my skin or cause itching? Things that make you go hmmm.
Bring on the Cranberry Seed Oil.
Since we started pressing oil my hands have been drenched in this lovely liquid gold. I put it on daily if not twice a day on my hands. It has been over a year and I have not had ONE visit from the eczema fairy. Not one! And that includes time frolicking in the ocean and being very brazen and not wearing gloves to do dishes. Yeah. I like to live dangerously.
Well, that was until a few days ago. My luck had run out. I was sitting on the couch enjoying a little television when I felt the formidable POP POP POP. There he was. Snickering at me begging me to start scratching. That's when I thought about the best defense I know. No it's not Beta Dip silly. Cranberry Seed Oil.
I decided to place myself in a Laboratory Study. I would put the oil to the test! No more Beta Dip thinning my hands to mockery.
This is my hand on Wednesday night. It doesn't look like much but those little blisters you see are the ones I was telling you about. Once those babies pop it's all down hill. I usually make it about 12 hours before I give in and pick at our scratch the blisters. Within 24 hours I will have a nasty itchy rash spreading across my hand.
So I've been applying Cranberry Seed Oil several times throughout the day instead of just once or twice a day. I even took a roller ball with me wherever I went and when I got the itchies I rubbed it in. It stopped the itching! I honestly couldn't believe that it had that kind of power. I only had to bear the insanity for maybe a minute until I'd get relief. The oil would soak in and work it's magic.
This is my palm on Saturday morning. Just 2 1/2 days after I started generously applying the Cranberry Seed Oil. Notice that the blisters are gone. They never popped! My hand is already in a healing stage. It doesn't itch anymore.
This is what my hand looks like one week after the attack began. It isn't 100% back to normal yet, but well on it's way.
I must say I am quite happy with how Cranberry Seed Oil helped my dreaded curse of eczema. After my extremely scientific study, I can say:
I'm reminded of a commercial from the 80's.
"And remember, I'm not only Queen B's president but I'm also a client."
For those of you that do not have chicken pox scars, here's the commercial.
I have been reflecting a lot lately on my life. It could be menopause, or I'm hungry or the fact that I turn half a century this fall. I keep feeling like I want to hurry up and live life. There is so much that I want to do yet and time is running out. It feels as though just a moment ago I was in agonizing labor for 23 hours. And yet yesterday we celebrated the 23 hour, ending in an emergency C-Section kid's 25th birthday. How does that happen? Where do the years go?
I have worn many hats in my life. My first real job was waitressing at Country Kitchen. I was fortunate enough to be able to work the bar shift when all the drunks would come into Kitchy Counchen for the breakfast buffet. I'm saying that with sarcasm. I was pinched, grabbed, and propositioned by many slobbery drunks who often would forget to tip before they passed out in the booth.
I was a pre-school teacher while I was in college. I enjoyed being around the littles but I remember being so exhausted at the end of the day that if no one was around I may have shed a tear or two.
Then I was a stay at home mom until my youngest started Kindergarten. I will never regret the time that I was able to stay home and just be a mom. The days were long and lacking adult conversation but some of my favorite memories are from those years. My husband worked long hours and often it was just me and my two kids hanging out, playing games, making messes or snuggling.
Once my youngest entered school, I decided it was time to put my elementary teaching degree to work. It was challenging re-entering the workforce. Especially since I hadn't been able to prove myself as an elementary teacher yet. I vividly remember a male teacher asking in front of a group of 30+ teachers "What the heck have you been doing the last 7 years?!" I felt so small and inferior. This was at one of my first district meetings after being hired to teach 3rd grade. What an ars that guy was.
I ended up staying in the teaching profession for 15 years. Most of my time was spent as a first grade teacher. I absolutely LOVED my job for a long time. Until I got burnt out that is. I could give you a thousand reasons why I left teaching but it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It wasn't an easy decision but one that was best for my well being and for the children that would walk thru my classroom door. If you do not love what you do, you can't be good at it. You can only fake a smile and be pleasant for so long until eventually you start eroding away.
So I left teaching, and joined my husband in our family businesses. He is the master of crazy ideas, taking on too much and unafraid to try anything. This means I have been trying on more hats. Some that really push me outside my comfort zone. In the 4 years that I have been away from teaching, I have been controlling inventory and invoicing for our business Supply House (a farm supply company). I learned how to plant corn and soybean with a tractor. That 25 year old kid I mentioned earlier is the one who taught me that new skill. I became a certified Food Safety Manager and deal with all the paperwork and audits for our organic operations. Eight hour audits still intimidate me. I've had to learn a whole new set of acronyms. BTW, acronyms annoy me.
And then along comes the idea of Queen B oils. I was very hesitant at first. I mean how much more can we take on? Do we really want to invest a large portion of our savings? My hubby's answer: really it's no big deal. Well it is a big deal. It has become all consuming for me as I learn a new role. I've been learning about FDA regulations, working with brand ambassadors, contacting brokers, creating labels and products, purchasing equipment, meeting with potential customers, creating a website, making sales calls and taking on the craziness of the social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It is a big deal but I wouldn't change it for anything. I have been meeting so many new people, I've reconnected with old friends and have learned so much in the few months that we have been at this. I believe in our product. I know that we are offering a quality oil that has many therapeutic benefits. It feels really good to know that you can help people with some of their biggest skin concerns. We don't need to make stuff up, use fancy words or create catchy advertisements. People have been willing to try something new and have found that it works for them. I am humbled by the amount of support we have already gotten from friends, family and community members.
It turns out that in almost 50 years of life, a lot of hats can get thrown at you. Some fit just right, some are fun for a little awhile and others make you proud of who you are becoming. Who knows where life will take me next but I know that I'm enjoying the ride right now.
A special thank you to everyone who has read a Bog Blog (new hat by the way), followed us on FB or IG , shared Queen B news, or even just asked us about it, or bought a bottle of oil! Muwah! Much love!
Since we started peddling Cranberry Seed Oil I have been absolutely amazed at how it has helped different people in various ways. From psoriasis, eczema, nail fungus, cold sores, wrinkles, age spots and even warts. Our customers have been willing to try this oil and are reaping the rewards. It becomes a very personal interaction as they tell you about their biggest skin issue. I love when I hear a new idea for application. I always say "Go for it! You never know if it will help until you try it." They are claiming benefits of Cranberry Seed Oil that I didn't even know existed. I can't make this stuff up. I'm not that clever.
I have come across some skeptics though. People give you this quizzical look. "Oil on my face? Thanks but no thanks. I've got enough oil." So I thought I'd do a little research on the benefits of using an oil on your skin and how to apply it. But first a little refresher course on our bodies largest organ.
Our skin has 3 distinct layers. And within each layer there are multiple layers. I know. You are so mulit-layered. The epidermis is the outer region of the skin. The epidermis consists of five layers. Interestingly, it does not contain any blood vessels and is dependent on the dermis, the layer of the skin underneath it, to provide access to nutrients and dispose of waste. The epidermis is responsible for:
Your skin also has millions of tiny holes called pores. Pores are formed by a folding-in of the epidermis into the dermis. The skin cells that line the pores are constantly being shed, just like the cells of the epidermis. Your pores work hard by providing oxygenation, detoxing, cleansing, and penetration. The skin cells that line the pores (keratinocytes) are continuously shed, just like the cells of the epidermis at the top of the skin. If you are thirsty for more detailed information about skin check out this article.
Okay,I think I may have heard a few yawns out there so let's move on to WHY and HOW you should use Cranberry Seed Oil.
Tweet and let others know why they should use cranberry seed oil.
Why? Cranberry Seed Oil gives skin an instant softness. You may find yourself petting your face. Or maybe a stranger will want to pet you. Either way, once you've applied your oil that is packed full of essential nutrients, fatty acids and antioxidants you'll notice a difference. It is your skin saying thank you for the support in providing a protective layer for your skin cells. As you age, your skin produces less oil which can exaggerate the look of wrinkles. Cranberry Seed Oil can reduce the look of your wrinkles because it contains antioxidants that can quickly pass into the epidermis preventing water loss. This will keep your skin plump. Cranberry Seed Oil boosts collagen production and strengthens skins elasticity. Now I'm not saying it will make you look like you have a plastic face like many Hollywood starlets (thank goodness), but it will help reduce fine lines. So as you can see Cranberry Seed Oil is perfect for aging skin. Check out this awesome resource I found. It is an ingredient dictionary for skin care products. Look up Cranberry Seed Oil. It ranks it as BEST for skin.
What about acne-prone or oily skin though?
Cranberry Seed Oil can help balance your skins oil production, get rid of excess oils and minimize appearance of pores. The antibacterial properties in this oil can dissolve excess sebum and remove grime and fats from pores. Cranberry Seed Oil is non-comedogenic. So it should not clog pores. The trick is to remember that just a little bit goes a long way. It may take a week or so for your skin to get used to the application of oil. My skin broke out a little bit at first in a few trouble spots. But I kept applying the oil knowing it was what my skin was craving. After a week or so, my skin thanked me and decided that it really liked this new skin care routine.
What about sensitive skin?
Cranberry Seed Oil fights free radicals with its antioxidant properties. It helps protect skin and combat future damage by reducing cellular oxidation. Cranberry Seed Oil also has anti-inflammatory properties which means it can calm the skin and reduce redness and irritation.
What about dry skin?
Dry skin means that your skin is struggling to make enough sebum. This quick absorbing, nutrient dense oil helps to deeply moisturize and smooth your skin. It helps to balance your skin. For dehydrated skin you may want to use a hydrating serum first, followed by the Cranberry Seed Oil. You can use oil as part of your morning and evening skin care regime.
So as you can see, oil is actually very beneficial to all skin types. It may take some experimenting with it to see how it works best for you.
Our skin needs both oil and water. So even though we've talked about how oil is a great moisturizer it is still missing a key ingredient. Water. And your moisturizer is missing (or just simply doesn't have a beneficial amount of) oil. I prefer to put the oil on first then add a moisturizer. I've heard that some prefer it the other way around. Experiment. See what works best for you. I do know that Cranberry Seed Oil is a great vehicle to get your serum or moisturizer beneficial properties to penetrate the skin more efficiently. Bonus!
So a sample skin care routine using an oil might look like this:
Lately I've been asked, "How do you get cranberry seed oil?"
My answer: "It's a very pressing operation." Ha.
In all seriousness, it's a long labor intensive operation. Especially when you consider everything that it takes to grow a cranberry. Growing cranberries is such a unique industry I feel compelled to tell you our story. Bear with me.
My husband and I (high school sweethearts) were away at college together when he came up with the idea of starting a cranberry farm. His family already owned some acreage with enough reservoirs to sustain a marsh. So armed with an old giant bulldozer he went to work sculpting the land. He was a one man show for a long time. Not sure how at the infantile age of 19 he even knew what he was doing. He worked long hours. Sun up to sun down. I remember when he'd come home from work all you could see were the whites of his eyes, as he would be covered head to toe in dirt. After a lot of investment in time and money we finally were ready to plant our first vines.
It's a test of patience as you cannot harvest from those vines for at least three years. And production isn't at full speed until year 4 or 5. It's a struggle waiting to reap your first harvest. But seeing those beautiful red berries in the fall was worth the wait. Times were good back then. We were paid handsomely for our labor. But almost 30 years later our industry is hurting. It actually costs more to grow and harvest our berries than what we get paid. For now we are holding on, hoping for change. Trying to diversify. But our farm still needs to be cared for.
Cranberry beds (or bogs) need year round care. Springtime is a when you work hard to ensure that your buds are healthy and protected from frost. This includes applying fertilizer, fungicides or insecticides. It also includes purchasing lots of honey bee hives to pollinate the little pink flowers that blossom and eventually turn into berries. Might I add that still to this day I run like a fool when I see a bee. Can't help it. Bee stings hurt. Springtime also means that someone needs to frost watch. When the nights are cool in the spring we irrigate to keep the buds from freezing. It is round the clock care. Almost like being in the intensive care unit.
When our Wisconsin summer finally decides to arrive we worry more about the pests, and making sure that the vines are not stressed from the heat. Keeping the right amount of moisture on the beds is a delicate dance. And just in case anyone is confused - cranberries do NOT grow IN water. The beds are only flooded for harvest.
When the leaves begin to change color so do our berries. They go from a bright green to a deep crimson red. The cool nights and fall sunshine help this process. Fall is the time of year that becomes all hands on deck. It is when we finally get to harvest. To reap what we've sown. The beds are flooded and the berries get knocked off the vines with either a picker or a harrow machine. Once the berries get tickled off the vines they float to the surface. The bed becomes a beautiful sea of red. (That's where you'll see those crazy guys from the Ocean Spray commercials).
The berries then need to be conveyed off the beds, cleaned, sorted and sent away to a processing plant.
Once harvest is over there is a lot maintenance that needs to be taken care off. During the winter our beds need to be flooded again so that we can form layers of ice to protect them during our harsh Wisconsin winters. We also spread sand on the beds during the winter by driving a dump truck over the ice and spreading a thin layer of sand. This helps the vines grow during the spring. To learn more about cranberries visit Wisconsin Cranberries.
But what about the oil?
Well, once our cranberries get processed at a local processor the seeds are expelled. The seeds are actually a by-product that in the past was discarded. We have arrangements to pick up the seeds. They come to us in large totes but are a very wet. In fact, it sometimes looks like a murder scene at our plant when the totes start to ooze out cranberry juice.
It has been a trial and error process of learning how to effectively dry the seeds. It's not like there are books on it. Even Google is silent on the process.
You have to be careful not to use too much heat because you ruin the integrity of the seed. The seeds have to be at a certain moisture level (sworn to secrecy on that percentage) before they can be pressed. We currently are tumbling the seeds with the right amount of heat and moisture control. It takes a few days just to dry one tote.
Once the seeds are dried they can be pressed. A hopper above the press receives the dry seed and it funnels down into a press. The press is essentially a large screw looking thing that applies enough pressure to squeeze out the oil. One side of the press, oil is released and the other side has another by product which is called press cake. Some companies are using this press cake for protein powder formulas. I have found that it works as a great colorant to bath and body products.
Anyhow, so now we have a container of 100% Pure Cold Pressed cranberry seed oil. The oil then needs to sit for awhile and settle. After a few weeks, the oil is ready to be poured into containers using a fine mesh filter.
Fun Fact: It takes a full semi load of cranberries to make just 5 gallons of oil.
Our seeds are never exposed to chemicals or cleaners. Our cold press process ensures that all the goodness of cranberries is present in the oil. It's amazing to think about how such a tiny little seed harnesses so much potential.
Thanks for listening but I have a pressing matter to attend to.
Every February when my husband and I have had enough of ice, snow, shoveling, and winter coats we pack up our suitcases and head to Florida. There is no better place in my opinion to recharge our frozen bodies than the crystal white sands of Siesta Key. We were very fortunate this year because the area was having record breaking high temperatures. The days were in the mid 80's and full of sunshine. We spent countless hours on the beach, in the water and on a boat. It truly put our sunscreen to the test. Trying to live up to my new mantra of natural is better, I opted for a "healthy" sunscreen this time.
Do you think manufacturer's purposefully print the ingredient list in microscopic print because they know it's too much work to find your reading glasses?
Preparing for my first day out in the sun I slathered on my new found healthy alternative to avoid a sunburn and skin cancer. I squeezed out a healthy portion in my hand and applied it to my face. Much to my surprise, when I looked in the mirror I resembled a Japanese hostess otherwise known as a geisha. Only then did I search for my glasses to see just what I was putting on my face.
I know. I know. Practice what you preach girl.
But I did read the front of the bottle which assured me that it was healthy and contained no chemicals. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Aha. Glasses on. Now I can see even though there is a glare coming off my stark white face. Active ingredient: 4.8% titanium dioxide. Hmm. I thought we were told to avoid that stuff...
After spending hours researching this titanium dioxide stuff I'm still not sure. I guess it comes down to who you want to believe. I did notice that this "healthy alternative" did not protect my skin as well as Coppertone, which I also used with a much lower SPF.
So I guess we are left to pick our poison. Sunburn, chemicals, skin cancer... oh I thought this vacation was supposed to be rejuvenating!
Here comes the product pitch. Wait for it. Wait...
Guess what helped my sunburned skin?!
If you were thinking Cranberry Seed Oil than you and I are soul mates. I slathered on our delightful ALL NATURAL oil all over my face twice a day. My skin did not blister or peel. Now I'm just left with a tan. Scouts honor.
If you are still reading this, I bet you are wondering when the heck you get to hear about the police report. Well pull up a chair and let me tell you about this wonderful crazy world we live in.
My husband and I flew from Milwaukee to Tampa. We stayed at a Marriott near the airport in Milwaukee and payed for the Park Here, Fly there stay. Nice. Convenient. Easy. Got a great parking spot under a bright light right up front to the building and next to the door. Perfect.
We waved goodbye to his truck as we left the hotel in the free shuttle service bound for the airport. No worries.
That was until we returned to the truck just 9 days later.
As we pulled back into the hotel parking lot, recharged and rejuvenated but eager to sleep in our own beds, we heard the shuttle driver ask "Did you leave a window open?"
While we were away, someone decided that what we had in our truck they deserved more than us. To enter the locked vehicle, they brutally smashed the driver side window into tiny little pieces. These little shards of glass lay all over the seats, floor and dash. They then decided that they should hurry along so they ransacked through all of our belongings. Throwing the insides of his console all about the truck.
What did they steal?
My winter jacket. My favorite winter jacket. A bag full of dirty clothes from the night at the hotel. Hope they wash and return. My cardigan sweater. My favorite cardigan sweater. And that's it. Not much taken. Left behind were the Oakley sunglasses -still hanging on the visor. The $50 cash in the console- untouched. The various tools scattered about my husbands work truck - still scattered. So what gives? The police officer thought perhaps a ring of keys lying on the seat gave the hoodlums the idea that they could steal the truck because the keys were inside. Little did they know that my husband (owner of a multitude of buildings and businesses) has so many keys that it'd make any custodian feel inferior. The key to the truck though was resting along with us in beautiful Siesta Key.
It's now 11:00 pm and we still have nearly a three hour ride home in a glass riddled truck with no window. We're tired, grumpy, cold and pissed. Time to call the police and file a police report. Time to use the hotels vacuum cleaner and clear away as much glass as we can. Did I mention that we haven't had dinner yet?
It was a very long loud COLD ride home. 42 degrees was a stark difference from the mid 80's we just came from. Luckily we found an old flannel shirt and a sweatshirt to wrap around our heads to seal in some heat. Our ears kept popping from the wind blowing around the cab. We couldn't have a conversation without yelling over the noise of the interstate. Oh, and the smells! I didn't realize Wisconsin had so many God awful smells. The skunks came out in droves to leave behind their pleasantries. Every farmer must have decided it was a good day to spread manure. Of course, don't forget about the lovely paper mill smells. Heat on full throttle, heated seats turned all the way up. Still so c-c-c-cold.
No longer recharged and rejuvenated we returned home to central Wisconsin. None the worse for wear we survived an assault on our personal property. We have a good story to tell and thanks to cranberry seed oil I still have my tan.
Now that I have your attention...
The average woman wears 515 chemicals on the average day.
Say what?! Yes, you read that correctly. 515 different chemicals are infiltrating your body as you read this. And that's just what you put ON your body. What about the room fragrance, the detergent in your clothing, the chemicals leaching off the sofa you're sitting on? It seems like every day we learn about something new that is bad for us that we once so joyously consumed, felt, or breathed. Think about non-stick cookware, flip flops, anti bacterial soap, Q-tips, microwave popcorn, sunscreen, plastic bottles, plastic anything, carbs. I'm sure I could go on until I am in such a tizzy that I won't sleep tonight... on my dust mite infested mattress snuggled under the sheets once dipped in formaldehyde. Seriously. Google it.
It's crazy to think about how our world has changed in the last 50 years. We've become slaves to convenience and numb to the warnings we hear every day. We believe everything that manufacturers tell us because we want to. It's easier that way. Someone once told me "Hey, something needs to kill me". But do we really want to just throw our hands up and say come get me? Probably not yet.
Do you want to know what's lurking in your bathroom drawers? Here's just a few of the 515.
We absorb up to 60% of what we put on our skin.
So what do we do? We become informed. READ LABELS.
Since we've started this business I have been paying attention to what I put on my skin. No, I haven't abandoned all the products that I like. I'm not that resourceful. Yet. But if I can swap out a few things at a time, I am making progress towards a healthier lifestyle. So, tonight before you go to bed check out your face wash, toothpaste, and lotion. When you wake up in the morning vow to swap out one of those products for a healthy one. I happen to know a great all natural superior moisturizer.
Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to be a cranberry farmer? As with any job there are certain things you need to know in order to do it well. People are often amazed if not at least curious when they hear that we grow cranberries. They can't help but ask questions to see how well they know the industry. My favorite question is "so they grow in water right?" I thought it'd be fun to put together a little quiz (my teacher side of me is emerging) to see if you could be a cranberry farmer.
Answers: 1 (F) cranberry vines would die if kept under water for too long 2 (T) when it gets very cold farmers flood the beds and build ice on top of the vines in order to protect them from the elements 3 (T) bees are a crucial part of the marsh during bloom 4 (F) The Titan Beetle is one of the largest beetles found in the rain forest 5 (T) sand is spread on during the winter by driving on the ice, the sand helps the vines grow 6 (F) farmers are unfortunately being paid at record low prices with some buyers paying less than what it costs to produce 7 (T) chicken poop is often used on organic cranberry farms 8 (F) while it's true that the beds are flooded during harvest it is because the berries need to get knocked off and float to the top in order to be picked up 9 (T) many varieties exist including Stevens, Hi-Reds & Sundance 10 (T) sunshine and cool nights help to turn berries into a beautiful red color
How'd you do?
8 or more correct: You should come work on our marsh!
5-7 correct: Not bad. Come on out to the marsh. You know you'd look good in waders.
Less than 5 correct: Don't quit your day job.
Brag it up! Share your test results below. After all, we are always looking for good help.