Brace yourselves, the month of September has been dubbed the Organic Festival.
For the entire month of September, the Organic Trade Association is hosting the Organic Festival – an entire month for bloggers and activists to dedicate to supposedly myth-busting “myths” about the organic label. Sponsorship for the event comes from some pretty big names, such as Simply Organic, Organic Valley, and Naturepedic. As you can see from the OTA’s website for those participating comes equipped with graphics, memes, talking points, online events, and prizes. It is literally a fully equipped public relations campaign presented in a pretty little package.
So, who is the OTA and what is is that they do? In their own words from their website:
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 8,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. Organic products represented include organic foods, ingredients and beverages, as well as organic fibers, personal care products, pet foods, nutritional supplements, household cleaners and flowers.
In other words, the OTA is a trade organization consisting of organic businesses. A browse through the organization’s member roll quickly reveals that this trade organization is supported and funded by organic farms, organic corporations, and organic industry groups. This is, quite literally, an arm of “Big Organic.”
Let’s be clear: It fully expected and anticipated that the organic industry and their organizations are going to do things that will advertise and support the industry. Every trade organization wants to support their own businesses and industry partners. After all, that’s just good business. Besides, what is the point of having a fancy USDA label if you aren’t going to monetize it?
Unfortunately, a quick review of the materials put together for the Organic Festival shows that it quickly devolved from an event aimed at supporting organic products to attacking those products’ conventional counterparts. For example, on September 11, the Festival will share and promote the graphic that organic production prohibits the use of “toxic pesticides.” First, that’s just false; organic farmers can use pesticides that are every bit as toxic (and sometimes even more toxic) than those used in conventional agriculture. It also leaves the impression that conventional food is covered in “toxic pesticides” that can will harm you and your family; that is also false. As the month goes by, there are misleading and false statements that correlate conventional products with higher rates of cancer, higher incidents of birth defects, and a reckless disregard for the environment.
It’s unfortunate and sad that the OTA and organic industry have, yet again, decided to take this approach for marketing purposes. The last thing we need is more consumers that are confused or mislead about food safety and the integrity of our agricultural practices across the board.
In response, we’ve decided to create a different kind of campaign. For each daily graphic that will be featured by the Organic Festival, we’ve created a graphic presenting a counter argument. With help from some of our other friends in agriculture we’ve put together a graphic for each day that highlights the best of agriculture. We’ve taken a positive spin and wish to promote all agriculture. While it is perfectly acceptable to discuss the merits of both production methods, fear should not be the basis of a campaign to sell products. Because, in reality, consumers deserve a whole lot better than being afraid of their food, especially when we live in a time of an abundant and safe food supply that has never been achieved in the world before.
We hope over the next 30 days, you will enjoy the graphics we’ve created, share them with your family and friends, and join us in standing up for facts, not fear.
Krista & Amanda
PS. If you decide to share one of our graphics or want to contribute to our efforts, please consider using the hashtag #FactsNotFear