Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shea Butter

Shea is a wonderful natural butter that has been used for ages in Africa to help with exzema, dry skin, for soap making, cooking and much more. Its traditional uses and extraction are very much apart of the African Culture.

Shea Butter comes from trees in the West Savannah of Africa, these trees are wild and not propagated, irrigated or fertilized. In fact in Africa these trees do not propagate well. These trees are a highly substainable crop because of this, and a very enviromentally positive crop.Traditionally when it comes time to gather the crop many people will walk miles to where the trees grow wild to collect the nuts. They then remove the butter in a cooking and stirring process over hours and days. This process is done by the women as it has been done for ages.

More recently the times have changed and after the nuts are gathered they are sold off to European Middlemen for much lower prices. These nuts are taken to have the butter chemically extracted. Then the butter is sold for a profit for the middleman.

The Traditional method makes sure that the people of Africa (typically poor women) get fair prices for their product while creating a higher quality product. It is more time consuming and expensive, but it is worth it for the positive effect it has on the enviroment and the local people. This Type of Shea Butter is sold as Fair Trade.

Shea Butter is wonderful for many skin conditions and can be used in place of a lotion or as an additive to many bath and beauty products, including soap.