The World Awaits You

Reader Contribution by Lee Bentley
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A little over a year ago I happened to get into a conversation with a bright young man who had just taken a class in wildcrafting at our local branch university. He was full of enthusiasm for what he had learned there and had made a batch of skin cream utilizing the aromatic mountain sage that grows everywhere here in Northern New Mexico. He proudly gave me a jar, and to my surprise it worked very well on my crusty old skin. The next time I saw him, I asked what he had done with his skin cream idea and he replied that he didn’t know what to do to make a product from it. Having spent about half my life as a teacher, this was like the fire alarm going off for a fire house dog. I suggested some possible sources of information and brought up the idea of looking into whatever regulations might be lurking. I also talked up it’s potential to become a little business he might nurture into a livelihood. At that time my young friend had no job and no serious responsibilities beyond his beloved old truck. In the interval between our next meeting, I looked into the pertinent regulations … the State of New Mexico wasn’t a problem and the scary FDA had much bigger fish to fry.

In a later conversation with my friend’s mother, I learned he had not made any more sage skin cream and had taken a job at the local movie theater.  Of course I was a little disappointed, but the teacher in me knew that I could only plant a seed, I couldn’t make it grow. But what had happened was I had planted the seed in my head too…and it had began to grow! If that was such a great idea for a home based business why don’t I do it? I had sold my sign business the year before (which, in part,  had sprung from an article I had read in The Mother Earth News back in the 70’s). I had lots of time and a small Social Security check. From that point things began to take on a life of their own…research on the internet led me to the beneficial qualities of animal fats for the skin. The biology is almost perfect – your skin wants and needs animal fats. However, my enthusiasm was seriously dampened by the reality of the treatment given to our domestic livestock (more on that in a coming blog). I wouldn’t smear the fat from those poor tormented beasts on my skin and certainly wouldn’t offer it to anyone else. So my great idea took a nose dive. What a shame, a good idea struck down by modern agribusiness.

Then the light bulb above my head turned back on! What large herbivorous animal could be a source of pure fat for the perfect skin care product? The answer was just across the road in front of my house. Buffalo! But my neighbor would no doubt object strenuously to my havesting his buffalo. So I then researched again, until I found a source for fat that was as pure as the fats that our ancestors used to protect against their harsh world.

That led me to the idea of calling my product “Primal Care”, because it is indeed what was used before animal fats became a strategic ingredient for making explosives. When I was just a wee tyke during the second world war, I remember my mother saving all the fat (when we could get bacon) and the Boy Scouts would come by regularly to collect that and the flattened tin cans and bundled news papers. It was regimented recycling, strongly encouraged by Uncle Sam. We also had a Victory Garden. That planted another seed in my head that has grown over the years (pun intended). So Primal Care it was named … but the rendered fat, called tallow, is what they used to make candles from; it’s close to wax in its consistency and not very good for easy application. Another problem to be solved.  

By that point my beloved had been caught up in the spirit of the project and she suggested we soften the tallow with another oil known for its skin nourishing qualities. Jojoba oil is another recently rediscovered traditional skin care resource. The jojoba bean from which the oil is pressed, is native to the Southwestern deserts and was used for millennium by the native people to protect their skin from the harsh environment of their home. When the modern world discovered jojoba oil, its first use was a replacement for the whale oil used to lubricate delicate mechanisms such a clocks and watches. A university study in Israel demonstrated jojoba oil reduces fine wrinkles and is absorbed, leaving no oily residue on the skin. Since neither the buffalo tallow nor jojoba oil have any noticable odor, my life partner, Skye, put her experience in aromatherapy to work, making up essential oil blends that reflect the spirit of the west where we live. First came “Taos Pine” with essential oils from pine, spruce and sage. Then “Desert Garden” was born, with essential oils of myrtle and lavender, and  finally a facial blend containing rose hip seed oil from the Andes, lavender and bergamot oil.  

My being a graphic designer for 25 years was a big help in designing our advertising and labels and so we were off and running. Here is the discovery that has transformed a good idea into a viable product … the internet is the biggest marketplace the world has ever seen. There are an almost infinite number of people who would buy whatever you can make or do. It doesn’t matter where you live; you could run an internet business from the tailgate of a truck in Mongolia. This is a fact that makes it possible for  folks who want to live in a rural or remote location to tap into a vast market. And  this one fact has opened opportunities for people like the readers of The Mother Earth News to live where, and how, they choose and engage in right livelihood. This is the revolution, this is your ticket to independence. Your imagination, and a computer hooked to the internet are the most powerful tools in the universe. So like the bright young man I started this blog with, I am challenging YOU, to follow your bliss! Muster just a bit of courage…the only sure way to fail is to not try. Good Luck!  

Check out our website at Lee and Skye living our bliss in the wilds of New Mexico.