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All-organic or none!
May 28, 2008 3:08 PM   Subscribe

All One God Faith, maker's of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, are suing thirteen cosmetic brands for using the term "organic" on products that include petroleum-based ingredients. And now, Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz is suing them for using his name on their unique bottle labels (where he appears alongside folks like Jesus, Mohammed and Einstein).

They were most recently in the news defending Germs drummer Don Bolles after he was wrongly arrested when his bottle of Dr. Bronners tested a false positive for GHB. Bolles got off, but the faulty test - which returned a false positive for actual soaps (made from saponified oil) but not for detergent-based cleaners - was perhaps the germ of an idea to fight for more accurate labels on body care products.
posted by snofoam (54 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox was great. Ralph gives out lots of hugs, too.
posted by fixedgear at 3:15 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know who else liked making soap?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:17 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, oil is an organic compound. I know they don't mean that type of organic, but thats one of the things that drives me crazy about the whole "organic" movement... unlike organic compounds, there is no firm definition for what makes an organic product. I don't see how they can win this case given that there are no FDA or other standards for organic cosmetics.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:18 PM on May 28, 2008


I think Spitzer should sue the Einstein and Jesus estates.
posted by Postroad at 3:23 PM on May 28, 2008


He may be a kook, but Dr. Bronner makes some good soap.
posted by leapfrog at 3:24 PM on May 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've always stopped short of buying a bottle because of the crazy, adolescent looking ramblings strewn about the label. Maybe it's time to give it a try.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:30 PM on May 28, 2008


Maybe it's time to give it a try.

Ablute! Ablute! OK!!!!!!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:35 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


there are no FDA or other standards for organic cosmetics.
Why would you expect the Food and Drug Administration to regulate soap labels?

The rules at the Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (which is responsible for those green "USDA Organic" stickers) do seem to be applicable, though, partially due to a previous lawsuit by Dr. Bronner.
posted by finite at 3:39 PM on May 28, 2008


All the while we're kickin' it Hunza-style...
posted by Kinbote at 3:40 PM on May 28, 2008


Bolles got off...

Only because the statute of limitations had passed for that live version of 'Forming' on the ROIR tape.
posted by Kinbote at 3:43 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I know they don't mean that type of organic, but thats one of the things that drives me crazy about the whole "organic" movement... unlike organic compounds, there is no firm definition for what makes an organic product.

If you're talking about any kind of organic food product then there are firm (or at least legally binding) definitions concerning what can & cannot be labeled organic. Check out the National Organic Program of the USDA.
posted by jammy at 3:50 PM on May 28, 2008


or, er, um, what finite

(mental note: always hit "preview" first so as to not look like a doofus)
posted by jammy at 3:51 PM on May 28, 2008


Why would you expect the Food and Drug Administration to regulate soap labels?

A quick google will show you that a lot of organic cosmetic companies are asking the FDA to do so, thats where I got that.

The USDA does indeed have a certification program, however it is completely voluntary from what I can find. So if you want to be USDA Organic certified or w/e, you can do that. However, you can also just call yourself organic, and there doesn't seem to be any regulation on that.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:52 PM on May 28, 2008


arrggh - what finite said, that is

yeesh - not even listening to my own advice, am I?
posted by jammy at 3:52 PM on May 28, 2008


(At least, it's voluntary with respect to cosmetics)
posted by wildcrdj at 3:52 PM on May 28, 2008


They sold this at a place where I worked. It took a year before I noticed the tiny print on the bottles, and I was delighted beyond reason by the kooky ramblings. I do have to credit Bronner with teaching me the difference between soap and detergent.

Bronner's "philosophy" may be freaky, but it's a hell of a lot more entertaining than the advertising crap on any other bottle of soap.
posted by brassafrax at 4:12 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


My ritual each and every morning is to use Bronner's Peppermint soap in the shower for my body. It's amazing, beats any soap on the market, no residue after, and a nice tingling sensation. Just use sparingly on your pink parts. :)

Best. Soap. Ever. Even good for infants (not the peppermint one of course).
posted by Dantien at 4:16 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know they don't mean that type of organic...

Liquefied dinosaurs are definitely not vegan.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2008


A couple more things about the organic lawsuit. I know Dave Bronner, who is responsible for it, so much of my information is coming from him. It's kind of a big deal in the organic body care world, and for him it has meant suing many folks he knows and likes. It also means being accused of doing this all out of self-interest, particularly as they are launching some shampoos and stuff at roughly the same time.

From the Dr. Bronner's perspective, they have long been outspoken about many of the realities of so-called organic body care products and certifications, like being able to sell products that are chemical detergents diluted with organic "floral water" (e.g., water with a couple organic flowers thrown in) as organic products. It does make it difficult for consumers to actually distinguish between true organic products and more or less greenwashed regular products.

Also, and I hadn't thought of this until he mentioned it, it's really hard for natural soaps to compete in some ways with chemical shampoos, shaving gels, etc. While Dr. Bronner's soap is great, there's really no way to create, say, a shaving gel from soap that compares with one made from loads of chemicals engineered for foaminess, lubrication, etc. So allowing these products to claim they are organic really sets a false expectation for consumers about how organic body care products will perform.
posted by snofoam at 4:23 PM on May 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why the weird religious ravings on Dr. Bronner's soap?
posted by ericb at 4:36 PM on May 28, 2008


"The son of a Jewish German soap maker, he emigrated to the U.S. and pleaded with his father to do the same when the Nazis came to power. The old man refused. One day Bronner got a postcard with the words, 'You were right. --Your loving father.' He never heard from his parents again."
posted by ericb at 4:37 PM on May 28, 2008


The Story Behind Dr. Bronner's Soap -- An Interview With Ralph Bronner.
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on May 28, 2008


I'm sorry, but Bronner ignores cubic math at his peril, and of humanity. No god equates simultaneous 4 day creation, in 1 Earth rotation. Opposite sex organs prove male & female to be binary opposites equal zero value, and nothing as unified one.
posted by Flunkie at 4:49 PM on May 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


Dr Bronner's Peppermint soap, not pleasant 'down there' for me, although the ladies sure seem to like it.

Love to read the bottle during the constitutional. Raving lunatic, he is. Great soap. Use it for everything. It's gotten expensive as all hell, though. Used to be a great bargain, too, a long time ago, in SD county at least.
posted by valentinepig at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2008


Great for backpacking, I always carry a small bottle to clean both me and cookware and no residue to mess up the woods.
posted by BlueMetal at 4:59 PM on May 28, 2008


oh, and wikipedia has an older version of the mark spitz text on the bottle (the label went through lots of revisions) which is even better than the current one:

Whatever unites mankind is better than whatever divides us! Yet, if absolute-unselfish I am not for me, I'm nothing but classless raceless, starving masses, never free nor brave! Only if constructive-selfish I work hard perfecting first me, like Mark Spitz - Arctic owls - penguin - pilot - cat - swallow - beaver, bee can I teach the MORAL ABC's ALL-ONE-GOD-FAITH, that lightning-like unites the Human race! For we're ALL-ONE OR NONE! ALL-ONE! 'listen children eternal father eternally one!' EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? ABSOLUTE NONE!
posted by snofoam at 5:02 PM on May 28, 2008


he escaped from a mental institution and has been on the lam for 61 years?

*that* is enough to sell me on that goofy soap. ye-oowww!!
posted by CitizenD at 5:29 PM on May 28, 2008


I love the soap and the label. As Flunkie alludes, it's like a little dose of Time Cube in the middle of your daily cleaning.
posted by lekvar at 5:32 PM on May 28, 2008


So I assume it's available in liquid, bar, and timecube forms?
posted by luftmensch at 5:44 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn you, lekvar. really just damn me for not reloading before posting
posted by luftmensch at 5:45 PM on May 28, 2008


Peppermint soap fan, here. Go Dr. Bronner!
posted by rtha at 5:50 PM on May 28, 2008


snofoam writes "While Dr. Bronner's soap is great, there's really no way to create, say, a shaving gel from soap that compares with one made from loads of chemicals engineered for foaminess, lubrication, etc."

Well, that's true enough, but real saponified oils/fats make the best shaving soap (generally olive oil, avocado oil, castor oil are good). It's not the same as shaving gel, but you don't need that crap to get a good shave, and it's usually not very good for your skin. Full disclosure: I make soap. Dr. Bronner was something of an inspiration, but I make solid bar soaps rather than liquid soap. But it has spoiled me. I can't stand the detergent-based stuff anymore, but my skin is in much better shape.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:12 PM on May 28, 2008


What is Dr Bronner's position on wetshaving?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:18 PM on May 28, 2008


Interview with Sarah Lamm, director of "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox", here. On "The Sound of Young America", sponsored by Metafilter!
posted by bonecrusher at 6:23 PM on May 28, 2008


Loooove the Dr. Bronner's lavendar soap. I use it for bathing (Dilute! Dilute!) and hand washing my delicate clothing. That big bottle of soap has been emergency bathroom reading for me for some time. All one!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:27 PM on May 28, 2008


Only because the statute of limitations had passed for that live version of 'Forming' on the ROIR tape.

Hell, the original single was recorded in Pat Smear's garage on a tape recorder from Radio Shack. I have a bootleg made up of two shows of theirs from '78 or so and it's easily the most awful record I own. Some of the songs on their album were good, and Darby's lyrics were awesome (if unintelligible), but they were more important for being the first punk band in LA and their super-destructive chaotic shows than their actual music. Kinda like GG Allin minus the feces and with better lyrics.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:40 PM on May 28, 2008


I've always stopped short of buying a bottle because of the crazy, adolescent looking ramblings strewn about the label.

Are you kidding? That's the main reason to buy the soap!
posted by moss at 6:44 PM on May 28, 2008


I've got four or five bottles of Dr. Bronner's in my bathroom right now. I love the stuff.
posted by mrbill at 7:01 PM on May 28, 2008


Dr. B's peppermint soap and a washcloth only for me. He ain't fucking kidding when he says DILUTE! DILUTE!. I can stretch out a large bottle for two months or so, 9 bucks! 9 BUCKS!
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:12 PM on May 28, 2008


Amateurs!
I bought a bottle in 1985, and my kitties have never been cleaner.
posted by Dizzy at 7:33 PM on May 28, 2008


For whatever reason (despite having used this soap every time I go camping), when I first read this, I immediately thought of Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution. (I wonder if Dr. Bronner's stuff cuts through greasepaint.)

Tobias + Dr. Bronner..... can you IMAGINE the possibilities?
posted by numinous at 8:13 PM on May 28, 2008


Thanks to the Timecube, my family's been using the same bottle of Dr. Bronner's for five generations.
posted by flotson at 8:56 PM on May 28, 2008


Are you kidding? That's the main reason to buy the soap!

Well, that and the tingliness.

...pardon me. I must wash now.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:43 PM on May 28, 2008


What is Dr Bronner's position on wetshaving?

He says it's OK, but inferior to a very long beard. Especially if you can allow it to double as a hedgerow and encourage a diversity of wildlife to thrive there, a la Edward Lear.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:43 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dr Bronner's Peppermint soap, not pleasant 'down there' for me

Dilute! Dilute! OK!!

seriously, four drops on your palm is enough soap to wash about a third of your body while showering
posted by zippy at 9:49 PM on May 28, 2008


"There is widespread abuse of the word 'organic' throughout the industry and it's spiraling out of control," said company president David Bronner.

You don't say.

"It's an industry based on marketing and hype and the organic labels are a form of corrosive marketinglanguage."

Petroleum is organic in both senses of the word; it's formed of long carbonaceous chains, and it's derived from organic matter (matter made from decaying organisms).

But really, when you just start arbitrarily using a word (like natural, organic, healthy), then don't be surprised when it loses all meaning.
posted by Eideteker at 5:01 AM on May 29, 2008


sure, petroleum is made of carbon-based molecules that were at some point animal & plant based, and words like natural and organic, etc. are being used in lots of (often misleading) ways, but aside from making up an entirely new word for "made out of plants or animals that were raised/fed without synthetic fertilizers/pesticides sometime before millions of years ago" or whatever, isn't it worthwhile to take one or more existing words and give them a specific meaning, as applicable to products we are eating, wearing and washing with?
posted by snofoam at 6:13 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd never heard of this brand and just got inspired to check it out- can someone please explain this particular product?
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:46 AM on May 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Previously on MeFi
posted by Miko at 6:50 AM on May 29, 2008


can someone please explain this particular product?

You've never had to shave a baby?
posted by drezdn at 6:56 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


can someone please explain this particular product?

Stem cells make your beard grow back in smooth and your skin supple.

I'm going to go against the majority it seems here and say that I find Dr. Boner's products to be crappy and overpriced.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:28 AM on May 29, 2008


Best. Soap. Ever.

I did have some hippy friends whose shower drain went directly into the irrigation of the garden, and Dr Bronner's was the only permitted soap. The plants didn't seem to mind it. You can brush your teeth with it, too, if you can stand the taste.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:43 AM on May 29, 2008


I also love the Peppermint soap, sooooo tingly!
posted by Vindaloo at 8:01 AM on May 29, 2008


You know who else liked making soap?

Tyler Durden?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:01 AM on May 29, 2008


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