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I’ve spent this past week scrutinizing various companies who claim their products are organic.

Cross-referencing their names against watchdog websites, investigative journalism type articles, and my own first impressions of their products, I’m gathering a list of “Who’s Who” in bullshitters. That list is getting embarrassingly long.

But more importantly, I’m gathering a list of companies that are actually telling the truth about things.

One such company, Eden Foods, inspires me to scrub all possible traces of “BS” from all pieces of writing that I produce. I mean let’s face it, marketing and copywriting involves a bit of spin – i.e., making a product look its best. And storytelling, by its nature, involves a certain weaving and shaping of details. This craft sometimes lends itself to BS.

But I do believe marketing for organic products should be exciting and unique. One area where good companies fail is that many of them have boring marketing.

Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, gave this 3-minute testimony in front of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in May 2012. The delivery wasn’t very exciting, BUT the content is superb. If you have not read/listened to it, STOP what you’re doing and go check it out. Ignore the shitty audio quality and Potter’s obvious disdain for public speaking, and examine the substance of his message.

He calls out the lack of integrity of the certified USDA organic label.

He asks the question, “Should organic food be better for large corporations, or Better for the People?”

He points out that “Self proclaimed organic leaders (self proclaimed to those in Washington) long ago abandoned quality for quantity.”

As a marketer I ask myself: how would I make Potter’s words more exciting? I’d use metaphors.

He’s helped me see that many organic companies have become obsessed with size and numbers… whilst forgetting what the actual point of organic is.

Like the midde-aged guy who buys a Corvette with racing stripes to overcompensate for something, organic companies often focus on fast growth while forgetting what really matters.

Eden Foods, by the way, is one of the few companies that has opened MY eyes about certain truths – e.g., not all products labeled as “certified organic” are actually organic. I credit this company for making me more skeptical about organic products – skeptical in a good way.

I believe 100% in organic. But unfortunately, there are numerous hoops to jump through in order to ensure the organic products you’re eating/using are ACTUALLY organic. (Welcome to being a consumer in the United States of America.)

Eden Foods refuses to use the certified “USDA Organic” label on their products, even though their products are very much organic and even exceed the USDA’s standards. Why the refusal? – because the USDA label fails to meet Eden’s standards.

Makes you re-think the whole organic paradigm, doesn’t it?

Whose standards are more valuable?

It’s sad that I even have to be writing this post. But there’s a lot of catching up we as humans need to do. There’s more to life than numbers.

“USDA organic food has a reputation as needing only comply with a paperwork scheme, a scheme that invites and encourages fraud,” says Potter in his testimonial – which is rich with direct, unapologetic statements about what’s wrong in the organic industry and what needs to change.

Wish I could shake this dude’s hand. As a Catholic, he might be pissed at my article on the meaninglessness of Christmas though. Oh well, can’t please everyone in every way!

Bottom line, I refer to Michael Potter’s testimonial as a primer of what organic standards actually are. I see him, his words, and his actions as an example of what means to take a stand for something. In this case, he’s taking a stand against quasi-organic food and certified labels that promise one thing but deliver another.

If you run an independent organic company, I’d love to hear your take on Michael Potter’s stance. Drop a comment below or send it privately through email.

About the Author

Michelle Lopez is a writer, editor, and copywriter with a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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