Reading online yields a plethora of finishing options:
- Drying Oils - (linseed, tung, and diluted varnish)
- Nondrying Oils - Including vegetable and mineral oils.
- Vegetable Oils - e.g., olive, corn, peanut, safflower
- Mineral (or paraffin) Oil - (not baby oil as it contains other ingredients)
- Paraffin Wax
Vegetable oil sounds safe but it will eventually become rancid. Diluted varnish would include many harsh chemicals which wouldn't be very green. Ultimately, after vising the hardware store, I decided on mineral oil which is both food safe, completely non-toxic, and easy to apply.
Wiped on liberally (the first time) with an old cotton tee added a nice glow to the wood and has water bleeding up off the surface. Every few weeks I'll have to reapply as it dries out but mineral oil is safe for throughout its life.
While we're at it, check out these great ideas in wood counter top design from Devos Woodworking:
For hot things:
For wet things:
For sharp things: