Can a little Dead Sea venture named Naked Sea Salt heal divisions in the Holy Land? Everyone has a say in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from powerful lobbying groups here in the U.S. to states in the Middle East apoplectic over the mere mention of Israel. The reality is, while people abroad squabble, Israelis and Palestinians will live side-by-side for the foreseeable future. Could commerce be a path to peace, similar to the development of the European Economic Community (which led to the European Union) and its role in healing Europe in the years after World War II?
Well, it may only be a grain of progress, but Naked Sea Salt is an example of how Israelis and Palestinians are working together on an economic goal. On the edge of the Dead Sea, a small social enterprise harvests salt the way it has been done for centuries. The CEO of the company, Ari Fruchter, attempted to raise money on Kickstarter, and he more than succeeded: the campaign passed its fundraising goal within 48 hours and is close to tripling it.
Naked Sea Salt has its origins in Fruchter’s campaign to raise awareness about the Dead Sea’s environmental crisis by commissioning an art installation. Fruchter had posted a fundraising pitch in 2011 for that exhibit and received almost double his original goal. In the meantime, he stumbled upon a Palestinian salt field and became interested in how locals collected and dried the salt. In Fruchter’s view, the salt harvesting was not only sustainable, but stood out because the Palestinians’ methods preserved the mineral content, which preserved the salt’s taste and nutritional value. Salt around the world is actually mixed with a bevy of minerals, but in man’s quest for perfect and pure salt, the table salt that lands on most of our supermarket shelves is not only harsh on the palette, but has zero nutritional value. Naked Sea Salt insists its products are also more healthful because minerals within its salts make it a “low-sodium” product, free of the additives in similar products found in the local grocery store.
After Fruchter engaged a local environmental organization to ensure Naked Sea Salt’s operations had no detrimental impact on the Dead Sea’s environment, the company’s employees blended the salt with various herbs and spices to create 15 flavors. The products caught on, but Fruchter launched the crowdfunding campaign because the company wishes to extend its flavor line, boost production capacity, develop a product “for sport enthusiasts,” and start a production line of liquid-based flavors that would require different machinery.
The idea certainly has resonated, judging by the numbers. While Secretary of State John Kerry scrambles to keep the Middle East peace process drudging ahead, economic cooperation and the vision of entrepreneurs such as Ari Fruchter show economics can be a lynchpin bringing people together.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credits: Naked Sea Salt]