I've found this thread very interesting. I recently purchased a butcher block from a company in Vermont. They put my last name first initial in walnut in the middle of a maple butcher block. It was a bit expensive, but it's absolutely beautiful, I hate to cut on it, but I use it every day.
As for soaking wood products in water, that's not good. The instructions that came with my butcher block said to wash with soap and water after use but then dry immediately, no soaking. They also said to wipe down with mineral oil every other week. The company was www.vermontbutcherblock.com
and they had some other cool stuff as well.