Fooling Around in the Name of Organics


Photo credit: Honest Tea

For the past few years I have been disappointed when I consistently see market research that indicates consumers don't view the word "organic" as a meaningful term. In fact, most market research suggests that consumers view the term "natural" as far more valuable than "organic", when the term "natural" is a completely empty word in terms of packaging language. Alas, most of the surveys suggest consumers interpret "organic" to mean less tasty, too expensive, and even a term associated with false promises.

The irony is that "organic" is one of the few packaging terms that is actually federally enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A manufacturer cannot display the USDA Organic seal on a package unless at least 95% of the product is made with organic ingredients, and the manufacturer must be able to present a paper trail for each one of those ingredients.

So it is clear more education is needed. Given 1) the stakes for our earth and our diets; 2) the gap between perception and reality, and; 3) the fact that today is April Fool's Day, we are taking radical measures. So today we are releasing our first, (and perhaps last?) rap video, Rethink What you Drink.

Our video was inspired by my longtime board member and friend, Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm, who released "Just Eat Organic" last month. Gary and his chorus of three Moms highlight the importance of organics to our diets and to the earth. I enlisted two of our field marketing managers, along with members of our staff and unsuspecting Bethesda residents, to join me in our video, which offers a different way to think about organics, and to highlight the importance of selecting organic beverages. Two of my favorite lines are:

Middle age guys rapping, what could be sadder?
I'll tell you Holmes, what you put in your bladder!

Organic tastes better cause nature got it right.
You don't need chemicals to keep a drink tight.

When my three sons first heard I was going to star in a rap video, they started thinking about changing their last names, but when I told them I was more concerned with getting out the message than embarrassing myself (or them), they became supportive. In fact, my oldest son (and his chest) makes a guest appearance in the video.

I will admit that ever since college, I had wanted to record a rap. My Harvard college roommates and I actually had a group called the Educated Devastators (back in the 80's), but we never recorded anything. So this is probably as close as it gets. And so, with the extra license that it's especially OK to laugh at yourself on April Fool's Day, we (very) humbly offer www.justdrinkorganic.com.

In the hopes of expanding the reach of the organic message, and in the interests of encouraging others to share their organic vibe, manufacturers and consumers alike, Stonyfield and Honest tea are sponsoring a rap video contest.

Read more about Honest Tea:
The TH Interview: Seth Goldman, Honest Tea Co-Founder & TeaEO
Honest Tea: Doing Business Differently
Can Transparency on Calories Be a Model for Change?