Have you ever felt like an outsider? Here you are speaking the same language as everyone else, but no one seems to understand you. Every time I cross paths with someone who gets me, it makes me feel appreciative. In 2014, through correspondence on my website I met a person who thought and talked exactly like me. It was surreal because at times it seemed as though I was writing to myself. That person’s name is Michael Gal, and he owns a business making solid wood cutting boards. I own his one-piece cutting board, and in this post, you will learn why I love Urthware cutting boards so much and recommend them to you.
Cutting boards to avoid
Before I tell you about the board I like, let me give you a brief overview of cutting boards to avoid.
In my opinion, plastic cutting boards are the worst.
First, you can ingest harmful particles of plastic together with the food that you cut on the board.
Second, triclosan, the chemical which many manufacturers use on plastic boards, can stick to the food and get inside your digestive system, too.
Third, the cuts on plastic can be rather deep and comfy for bacteria which are happy to grow and multiply in moisture left in the cuts.
Epicurean cutting boards
Another type of a cutting board I am not a fan of is Epicurean. Even though their boards are slightly better than plastic ones, the manufacturing process and material are not ideal.
To clarify, Epicurean boards are not solid wood cutting boards. Rather, they are layers of paper stuck together.
We own their board but are not using it any longer – it has many scratches ideal for bacteria.
Since bamboo is grass rather than wood, it must be turned into thin strips that are joined with glue. Hence, a bamboo board is not a one-piece cutting board.
From my experience, it is not always easy for manufacturers to give answers about the glue they use in their products. In many cases, they do not know themselves because their manufacturing location is overseas. Besides, it seems like you must rely on the word of the manufacturer that their bamboo is organically grown.
Additionally, the two types of oil finish on bamboo cutting boards I have seen so far are mineral oil or an undisclosed oil blend. The reason I do not like mineral oil is that it is made of a non-renewable resource – petroleum. That is to say, it is the same petroleum that fuels car engines. Hence, it may be contaminated with carcinogenic PAHs which may leach into food.
On the other hand, bamboo is the least expensive alternative. Plus, it is an easily renewable resource because it grows quickly.
You can learn more about plastic, bamboo, and Epicurean boards in my Guide to Safe Cutting Boards.
What constitutes a safe cutting board
As I kept trying various boards in my kitchen, my criteria for a safe board grew into a three-point list:
- First, a safe board must have an absolutely non-toxic finish, i.e. a finish you can eat.
- Second, it must be made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified solid hardwood.
- Third, the one-piece cutting board must be affordable.
What makes solid wood cutting boards better than others
As you already know, glue contributes to toxicity of a cutting board. It is vital in joining the board elements to make them look as one entity. With a board made of solid wood, this problem disappears and brings you one step closer to a healthier choice.
Why not every one-piece cutting board is safe
To begin with, many so-called solid wood cutting boards are made of thin strips of wood glued together. Often, manufacturers either do not know what glue they are using or do not want to talk about it. But glue may contain toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde.
In addition, the finish on most wood boards is mineral oil or some unknown oil blend. Again, the makers do not know what the blend consists of, because they source it from somewhere else. So, when undisclosed ingredients of glues and oil blends come in contact with my organic food, I am not a happy chef, to say the least.
Therefore, I am excited to tell you that I have found a safe cutting board that checks every box. That is to say, it is made of FSC certified solid hardwood, has non-toxic finish, and is affordable.
The best maker of solid wood cutting boards
In fact, it took me almost six months of hard work to bring this one-piece cutting board to you. I had researched the market inside out and up and down. As a result, I can tell you with confidence that the boards by Urthware are the best the market has to offer.
As I have stated above, I had a pleasant encounter with the owner of Urthware Michael Gal, the maker of great solid wood cutting boards. It seemed that we had a lot in common regarding what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.
Just like me, he became concerned about chemicals when he had his kids. In addition to introducing organic food and safer soap, he replaced his nonstick and plastic cookware with glass, carbon steel, and cast iron pots and pans.
When he did his research into cutting boards, he discovered the same as I had. That is to say, manufacturers did not disclose the materials used in making their products. Moreover, Michael’s research confirmed my findings that wooden boards used either formaldehyde leaching glues or had “mystery coatings,” mainly mineral oil. As a consequence, he decided to make cutting boards from his home shop for himself and his family, who later encouraged him to start selling them.
Michael answered all my questions and sent me his one-piece cutting board for testing. Thus, I have been using Urthware products since 2014, and they are undoubtedly my favorite.
Why Urthware are the best solid wood cutting boards
So, let’s talk about Urthware cutting boards that Michael Gal makes by hand, and why I like them so much.
When I first saw his product, I could tell that the person who made it truly cared about people.
First, the board was smooth and had natural rubber “feet” that kept it from sliding on the countertop. Michael used high-grade no-rust stainless-steel screws to affix them to the surface. Second, the one-inch thickness of the board made it very sturdy. Third, there were indentations on the two shorter sides for an easy grip. In short, every detail was made with precision and thoughtfulness.
Urthware board finish
Let’s talk about the finish on the Urthware one-piece cutting board. There is no mineral oil or undisclosed ingredients here. In fact, Michael makes his own blend to finish his solid wood cutting boards. The finish has only two ingredients – edible organic coconut oil, beeswax made by bees, and carnauba wax. For vegans, he has an option of carnauba wax, which is a food-grade wax. The USDA National Organic Program allows it for use on organic food.
When I first got the board, it had a nice shine to it, which has worn out, of course. To protect your cutting board, you should re-apply the finish regularly.
Urthware board wood
Michael does everything possible to eliminate your exposure to questionable chemicals. Thus, the organic solid wood boards consist of one piece of wood, which eliminates the need for glue. Pretty much nobody does that because it is very challenging to make a one-piece board that would be of a generous size and won’t warp. But Michael knows how and cares enough to do it. So, his one-piece cutting board can go up to 10” by 24”, which is a generous size for most uses. For example, I have a 9” by 14” size, which is perfect for me – enough room to work on and not too bulky to wash and maintain.
Further, Michael uses maple for his products, which is 100% Canadian sourced from within approximately 100 miles of his facility only. Being a hard wood, maple makes the boards less prone to deep cuts. Also, maple is a closed grain wood, which makes it less likely to have bacteria contamination. Plus, every board comes with detailed instructions on how to take care of it.
The lumber certification and quality
I found it interesting that for their solid wood cutting boards, Urthware prefers to use trees that had to be felled, or fell because of powerlines, storms and so on. In other words, they try to obtain lumber that has the least impact on the environment. Therefore, sometimes the lumber that is better for the environment does not have an FSC certification.
Additionally, I respect the company’s strict attitude to wasting wood. To clarify, they do not waste materials because of the wood natural flaws and imperfections. It tells me that they take the environment and the beautiful natural resource, the forest, very seriously.
Conclusion about solid wood cutting boards
In conclusion, I highly recommend an Urthware one-piece cutting board available for purchase on the company’s website.
First, it has no glue or mineral oil. Second, it is long-lasting, and is comfortable to use. Third, it is thick and sturdy, and is not slippery. Above all, it is made of solid wood, which is rather rare.
To compare, Virginia Boys Kitchens are the US product and come in a variety of different sizes. Like most cutting boards, they do not consist of one piece of wood, so there is glue in them. That means that it is possible that the cutting board can fall apart. Besides, the Virginia Boys Kitchen cutting boards are much thinner than the Urthware cutting boards and do not look so luxurious either.
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