Is attacking natural the best way to support organic?

A new group called Organic Voices is working to educate on the benefits of organic by taking down products labeled natural. Is this negative approach the best way to get more consumers and brands to commit to organic?

Stonyfield Farm, Earthbound Farms, Nature’s Path and other heavyweights within the organic industry have joined forces to launch a new public education campaign aimed at highlighting the benefits of organic certification. The group, which has organized under the name Organic Voices, is doing this by shedding a light on the difference between products labeled organic and those labeled natural. 

Unlike the Organic Trade Association’s straightforward “Organic—It’s Worth It” consumer education campaign, the Organic Voices campaign uses humor and a more negative approach to get the word out on why organic truly is worth it.

Alex Bogusky helped to create the videos that are at the center of the campaign. Here is one that is already spreading across the Internet:

While funny and likely to be effective in reaching the average consumer who might not yet know the difference between natural and organic, I wonder if taking such a negative approach to natural is going to ultimately help the industry. I agree that the broader natural products industry faces many problems as a result of the natural label having no legal definition. I also agree that supporting and educating on organic is more important than ever given the current state of affairs with GMO labeling.

What do you think of the Organic Voices campaign?

However, I know there are many companies within the natural industry that are not the “bad guys” (as portrayed in the above video) simply because their products are not certified organic. In fact, many of these are small brands that are working their way toward organic certification but need to get enough scale so that the costs associated with organic ingredients and certification don’t kill their ever-important margins before they even have a chance to try to become certified.

Will this campaign—which is designed to take on “Big Food” and its “dirty little secrets”—ultimately hurt those smaller companies that are a foundational element of what has long been defined as the “natural products industry” and that play an important role in paving the way toward getting more consumers to buy healthier, cleaner products?

Also, what's the plan for combating those Big Food companies that are replacing their natural labels with equally meaningless labels rather than making more of their products organic certified?

These questions are part of the reason why I like best the portions of the Organic Voices campaign that feature the farmers and pioneers behind the organic label versus focusing on "big bad natural." After all, these are the people who inspire brands (small and big alike) to aim for and commit to organic.

Editor's note: Read Organic Voices chairman Gary Hirshberg's explanation of the motivation and goals behind the group's Only Organic campaign

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.