The Story Behind Dr. Bronner’s Soap — An Interview With Ralph Bronner
A few times a month, I’m asked whether we’re a New Age religion or a cult. Well, we’re not, or if we are, we have no members. Our family is running a soap business based on Dad’s teachings. All he did is what any religious person does: he read the great works — the Torah, the Bible, Thomas Paine — and picked what he liked. His theology was a sort of cosmic soup.
At century’s end, we’re consumers, not gatherers or producers. We’re at the mercy of dimly understood industrial processes and long lines of supply. Being at such removes — practical, geographic, and technological — from our sustenance, most of us are ignorant of the source of our tap water and the provenance of our food.
I like to look at people’s skin. The way others might notice a man’s eyes, or the curve of a woman’s hip, I notice complexion and skin tone. It’s not the face I’m drawn to but the skin on forearms or around the collarbone, the wrinkles on knuckles — that’s real skin.
The house wasn’t yellow when we moved in, but it needed a fresh coat of paint. I regretted the choice almost immediately. All that yellow made the ramshackle building too bright, too cheerful, too . . . yellow. It hardly looked like the home of a serious little magazine. But, for thirteen years, that’s what it was.
I reached again, beyond the orange bill, behind the round eyes, and slid my hand lightly down his delicate downy neck. He stood absolutely still. I could almost feel a sigh in him, and I passed my hand again and again down this fragile stem of life, then out onto the fan of feathers across his back, the narrow spiny ridges and silken expanse.