Monday, June 24, 2013

Gone Coconutty?

Fads. I can't stand them. Almost to a fault.

Bacon? No. Get over it. We're unhealthy enough as it is.

Mustaches? I used to love them, I tried to avoid hating them, but when I heard about a mustache growing reality show, I started to tip.

Owls? I've collected them most of my life, the owl is my spirit animal and I wish I had them back (to myself), but those can stay (I think rainbows and owls might be the only fads I'll never get sick of. At least I hope I won't).

Tropical "super fruits"? Blueberries are better than most, and they're a native food (if you live in the US).

I recently realized, that when I start getting sick of hearing about something, it usually means that it's about to get really popular.

I'm not trying to claim I'm cooler than anyone because I get sick of things easily. Pretty much the opposite. Like I said, I'm against fads almost to a fault (my favorite band didn't get less awesome because more people liked them, so why don't I like them anymore?). I actually got nervous a while back when I started to hear about calendula in the media. Hating things because other people like them is not something to be proud of. Although I won't go as far as to jump on the hipster-hating bandwagon (see?).

What my dislike for fads does do, though, is help me be more critical of things. Critical in a positive way. Critical thinking. It helps me to be able to look at things objectively, no matter how much I'm surrounded by good or bad things said about them. It helps me cut through the hype (ok, it's also partly because I'm an over-thinking Cancerian).

About a year ago, I got my cholesterol levels checked. I'm a 16-year vegetarian who doesn't eat much dairy or eggs regularly, and is in love with fresh vegetables, so I was surprised to find out that my LDL (bad cholesterol) levels were so high that my doctor was thinking of putting me on medication. High cholesterol runs in my family, so I wasn't totally shocked, but definitely surprised. Especially since in the last couple tests, it was only slightly high, but "nothing to worry about".

What had happened to increase my LDL in one year?

I cut back on: drinking (no), fried foods (no), dairy & eggs (no). I started eating more leafy greens (no), and started replacing many fats with coconut oil (wait a second...). Those were my only dietary changes. Cutting back on "bad" things, and adding "good" things.

I had started eating coconut oil based on the hype. Against my better judgment. I could feel something inside me saying that solid at room temperature meant that it wasn't a good oil for nutrition, but I like experimenting. I wanted to see if my health would change by eating more coconut oil, and less of other fats. As I was eating the coconut oil, I couldn't stop thinking about how I had only heard good things about it, and how people claimed that old studies were wrong, and it was actually "good for you". Seriously, I hadn't heard one bad thing, which pretty much always means something is fishy. There's always a bad side, at least to someone. Even a rainbow, possibly the happiest thing in the world, needs rain (I happen to love rain, but lots of people hate it).

And it kind of seems that coconut oil did have a bad effect on my health.

Now, my scientific side was, and still is, telling me there is no way I could blame the high LDL levels entirely on coconut oil. I don't know for sure. There are other factors. I can't narrow it down to one without an official experiment. But, my intuitive side told me to stop eating it. Completely (well, not completely... I think I still eat it on occasion if I have a vegan dessert). And I started feeling better. I haven't had my cholesterol rechecked yet (soon!), but since then I've also quit smoking so I still won't know for sure if it was the coconut oil. I just have a feeling.

At the time, I sent out a post to Wunder Budder's Facebook fans telling them about my experience, and asking if anyone else had a similar experience. Unsurprisingly, the answer was no. "Coconut oil is the best", "coconut oil is a super food", etc. I don't blame anyone for believing the hype. It's hard not to. I even started to wonder if my intuition was wrong.

And then I forgot all about it...

until today.

I'm taking a COURSERA class on nutrition. This week, the first class, is an overview of nutrition. In the lecture on fats, the teacher mentions coconut oil. Coconut oil as being "heart unhealthy" fat and as raising LDL levels.

What? Yes! I knew it! (More than I hate fads, I love when my intuition is proven right.)

Good news for my intuition (really, I got so excited, that I took a break from class to write this blog), bad news for everyone who has been adding coconut oil to their diets based on the latest fads and "information".

The teacher also mentioned that we'd talk more about it later (since this was just an overview). When we do, and when I do more research on my own, I'll be back to share.

I'm not telling anyone to stop eating coconut oil, or that I know more than some of the "experts" (are they really experts?) out there, but I do find this information interesting and important enough to share. Especially with the amount of people basing their diets on coconut oil. If you haven't heard about it, some people even add it to their diets where there were previously little to no fats, like in smoothies. Seriously. The hype is that good. But, it seems that might be all it is... hype.

Now, back to class.

EDIT: I should probably clarify things and mention that one of the main reasons people say that coconut oil is ok for cholesterol is that it increases the levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). This is true, but it's only a half-truth. The full truth is that it increases ALL cholesterol. The good and the bad. If you're looking for a healthy oil, this is not it, no matter what the hype says.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good News & Bad News

Ok, friends...
I have news that affects each one of you who use Wunder Budder.

As you may or may not know, I'm not a business person. I mean, yes, I'm learning, but it's been something I've only been learning for a couple of years.

I'm a maker of things.

I've always made things, and I've always wanted to create a business out of making things.

I started as a kid with lemonade stands at the bottom of my driveway. I moved onto making patchwork hats and beaded dread wraps as a teenager, selling them to a shop in Faneuil Hall. In my early 20's I made jewelry and sold it on the streets, spread out on a blanket, of a city I lived in. Mixed in were lots of trades: my work for someone else's.

After studying herbalism and essential oils, my path was clear. Even though I still make other things, my business was formed around my obsession: plants and things made from plants.

I started Wunder Budder many years ago, but it was just a hobby-business for a long time. I had no idea what I was doing, business-wise. In early 2010, I decided to just go for it, and try making Wunder Budder into a full time business.

Most of the time, I still don't know what I'm doing, but I am finally starting to learn from my mistakes.

One of the mistakes I've made, and continued to make for the last three and a half years, was to underprice Wunder Budder.

I like cheap stuff. I shop second hand. Most of the furniture in my apartment (and in my studio) was first owned by someone in my family. In fact, I'm guessing about 90% of my stuff has either been owned by someone else first, or it's something I've made.

One big reason is that I just like things with history. But, the other big reason is that I went from a full-time adult student to a full-time bootstrapping business owner. Which means I haven't had a full-time paycheck in eight or nine years. I've had to live as frugally as possible, and I have a bad habit of thinking other people are like me. Not that anyone is swimming in money, but if it weren't for my husband, I'd be living in my studio, hiding from my landlady, and eating nothing but Ramen noodles.

I've been out of touch. I've been trying to keep Wunder Budder "cheap".

Well, I'm learning that, like most things, Wunder Budder can't be cheap and high quality. It just can't. I tried. And I'm failing. I'm heading towards low-pricing myself out of business.

Another thing I'm learning, is that as the demand for natural products grows, so do the prices of natural ingredients. The price of jojoba oil has nearly doubled in the last two years. Nothing else has gone up quite that much, but every single ingredient is more expensive now than it was two years ago. Increasing demand is just one reason.

Natural ingredients are completely dependent on Mother Nature. If there is a drought, a flooding, a heat wave, an early frost, or any other major weather event, crops are effected. Which means things like apricot kernel oil and lavender essential oil, for example, are affected. In a good season, prices will fluctuate slightly, but loss of crop in addition to increasing demand, means major increase in price. I haven't kept up.

After a few months of cost analysis and market research on similar products, I've realized that not only have I been nearly pricing myself out of business, but Wunder Budder prices were far lower than similar products, even products that are not handmade.

Realistically, what I should have done is started with much higher prices, and then increased them slowly and steadily as prices for ingredients rose. But, I was caught up in trying to remain a lower-priced item, and to not offend all of you with constant price-raises.

It backfired. And if things went on as they had been going, I'd be at risk of total business collapse.

So, prices had to go up today. Some by a little, some by a lot.

I know this will affect people. I know some people will be mad and I'll lose some of you. But my hope is that you'll understand that I had only two choices: raise prices or close shop and lose Wunder Budder forever.

I chose Wunder Budder.

I hope you will too.


I'm back!

Well, we'll see how it goes.

As you may have read in my last post (you know, the one I wrote over a year ago), I created a new website.

Which I love.

And so do Wunder Budder fans, it seems.


for the blog.

The format is different, and unless you're searching for Wunder Budder specifically, I'm basically talking to myself.

And that's not really that fun.

So, articles about herbalism, aromatherapy, living naturally, etc will be staying over at the website, and the bloggy blogs are staying here. The one's where I ramble. Hopefully not to myself.