Fredericton – Cecelia Brooks has been making natural body care products for 20 years, and this October will mark her 3rd anniversary as a vendor at the W.W. Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton.
She says she began making her own body care products when she was pregnant with her eldest child: “I wanted to get some products for him to do massage. Someone said, well just use baby oil, and I went to look at the baby oil and it said mineral oil [a petroleum product] and I was horrified! I couldn’t believe they were putting it on babies.”
Brooks learned her craft through self-study. “I have a background in chemistry,” she explains, “but then I just started digging through books at the library and reading and researching it.”
She feels that it’s important to source things naturally because of the lack of consumer protection from dangerous ingredients. Many products even contain known carcinogens.
In addition to concerns about the health effects of using synthetic products, Brooks is also thinking about the environmental impacts that result from the use of these goods. “[There’s an impact] on the environment when you purchase things that are artificial or synthesized. There are some impacts as far creating some of the natural products as well. We have to be careful there too.”
Brooks keeps local content in mind when she selects her ingredients in order to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are used to transport goods from far off locations.
And that’s not the only benefit of purchasing locally. Sourcing local products also provides a measure of certainty about the environmental and labour practices of suppliers that is seldom possible when sourcing ingredients from large foreign corporations.
“If you buy things that are created by these large corporations, you don’t know where they’re coming from,” says Brooks. “There are so many things that are from so far away. For the shampoo that I make, we used to buy a base, but we found out that it was coming from really terrible places so we went to a soap base because I make soap and you can make liquid soap just as easily.”
Brooks has always been passionate about the environment, conservation, and health. In fact, after a lifetime spent in various parts of Asia, Europe and the U.S., it was environmental work that brought her to Fredericton. Her father was Maliseet from St. Mary’s First Nation and she was keen to get back to her roots and work with the Maliseet Conservation Council as the organization’s Science Director.
For those seeking candles and body care products that respect our bodies and the planet, visit the Soulflower Honey booth located directly opposite the restaurant platform in the new section of the W.W. Boyce Farmers Market, open each Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Julie Michaud is a member of the NB Media Co-op.