HOW WE STARTED
“SOMA definitely started itself.”
Jean-Pierre Parent, a yoga teacher in Portland, Oregon, noticed that, even though people often go to yoga studios for the community, many students would shyly slink away after class. In response, he began bringing his home-brew kombucha to enjoy after class. It was an instant hit, with students, then later studio owners, requesting to purchase his kombucha. SOMA was born. Today, you can buy SOMA in dozens of locations throughout the Pacific Northwest.
According to the World Health Organization, age-related cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness, accounting for 18 million cases, primarily in developing countries. This form of blindness can be easily prevented with a simple medical procedure, though it’s inaccessible or too expensive in most of the world. But, within the next few years, “Robo-Surgeons” will be routinely deployed to places too remote or dangerous for trained doctors to go to perform cataract surgeries, gastric bypasses, and dental repair, or for battlefield triage.
How is this possible? Microsoft’s X-Box Kinect, a video game console designed to recognize a player’s movements. In 2010, a 3D laser range finder cost around $5000 but today, because of the increase in production, they’re around $150. And the lower price has allowed more graduate students and robot enthusiasts to tinker with them, advancing the technology by leaps. It’s this technology that makes it possible for a surgeon in San Francisco to control a low-cost device that’s sensitive enough to perform a surgery on a patient in Uganda.
Bluetooth technology, designed to let people talk on the phone while driving, allowed a generation of young people in Iran export information of protests or news in an instantly viral way, creating a “guerilla democracy” that couldn’t be easily squashed by an authoritarian government. And a social networking site originally designed as a drunken game to rate the attractiveness of college students has had the auxiliary effect of igniting and organizing the grassroots movement that toppled the terrorist regime that controlled Columbia for 40 years through kidnapping and murder (the “Facebook Effect”.)
These examples show how business can have unexpected secondary effects that make the world a better place. At Kitchen Sink Farming and SOMA we want to, in our own small way, have a positive impact with a difference: we want everything good. From where we buy our raw materials to what we do with what’s left over, from how we treat our employees to how we price our products, the greater good is not just in mind but at the heart of every decision we make.
Everything we use in normal operations can be re-used or re-purposed is, and the recycling bin is the absolute last resort. For example, the wax paper strips that our labels come on aren’t recyclable, so we donate them to a local funky arts supply store. We don’t believe you can throw anything away, because there is no “away”. We choose products and vendors that are reusable with less packaging; we buy in bulk.
Our packaging will always be returnable or reusable, and we really appreciate everyone’s willingness with the bottle deposits. So far, we’ve kept over 20,000 bottles out of the landfill (where many recycled bottles end up, as making new bottles is cheaper than recycling old ones).
Our decision to use non-returnable jars for the mustards, etc., was based on the fact that they’re going to be enjoyed all over the world and it’s not environmentally-friendly to ship them back. For ideas about how to re-use your jars visit www.KitchenSinkFarming.com/jar. Also feel free to send us your ideas and pictures for credit on the site. And of course you are still welcome to bring your jar back when visiting us in the kitchen!