April 3, 2009

Scotts Miracle Gro Organic Choice Is Still Bogus

Turning the clocks ahead. Forsythias in bloom. Tulips and daffodils. Taxes. All signs of spring. So, too, is the annual question asked by so many organic gardeners: "Is Scott's Miracle Gro Organic Choice really organic?"

Well, Virginia, in a word: NO. Oh, Scotts can write, print and color in crayon the word "Organic" all over any of its products. But all that means is it contains some carbon-based material which was once living matter.

In today's Greenwashed Market (see my post on "Faux-Organic Or The Art of Greenwashing" where the word 'organic' may be placed on a product for the sole purpose of suck(er)ing in a huge, eager market of organ-o-philes and organic-wannabees, that word ("organic") has become more than just a little bastardized. It wouldn't be the first time manufacturers, their advertisers, R&D departments and marketing departments have stooped to conquer cash.

I'll try and make this short and sweet for those synthetic-fertilizing, chemical-pesticide/herbicide-groupies out there who wouldn't part with their bags of Smurf Builder or 2-4D (Agent Orange's evil twin), unless they were pried from their cold, dead, toxic-dusted hands.

Now, to be truly, legitimately, honest-to-goodness, cross-my-heart, certified and approved Organic by the USDA's NOP (National Organic Program) ...then that little green and white or black and white circular seal will be prominently displayed on said product. But, in lieu of that, where just the word "organic" is used indiscriminately, there are numerous ways to dance around and loopholes to jump through in order to use just that word: "organic" and still be able to dupe a trusting (and sometimes, misinformed) public into thinking they're getting the real, USDA-approved 100% deal. For a little ...er...light reading of the ambiguous and legal-speak wording which dictates - right down to the proper sizing, spacing, highlighting of the word "organic" on a label, one might want to peruse this: THE ELECTRONIC CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS or.."Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Organic Regulations and Certification But Were Afraid To Ask & Possibly Afraid To Read".

In the case of Miracle Gro Organic Choice perhaps the reason it will never receive that little green and white or black and white circular approval seal is because even though their ingredients are listed as "natural" or of an "organic" nature and they (apparently) follow the loose guidelines of the above link, they do not - repeat - do not state anywhere on their label nor is it stated in the MSDS SHEET that the source of their "natural" or "organic" ingredients: i.e. Sugar Beet Molasses, Pasteurized Chicken Litter, Composted Manure, are grown or attained using true organic practices or that the chicken litter is pasteurized (so they say) using organically-approved methodologies. See? If it said "Organically-grown Sugar Beets; Organically-processed Molasses, Organically-pasteurized Chicken Litter from Organically-raised and fed chickens, then it might be in the running for that little circular seal and not remain a pretender to the organic throne like so many other products who play fast and loose with that word: Organic. (BTW: Their chicken litter comes from Perdue. You can look that up. And some caged bird tells me that Old Frank's heirs don't raise their birds free range). And that my fact-checking friends, is my take on why Scotts Miracle Gro Organic Choice will always be what it is: BOGUS.

Now, true organic certification is only important to you if you're a certified organic grower or want to play your organic part as close to your hemp vest as possible. Otherwise, buy a product that cavalierly tosses that word "organic" around. As long as the other ingredients on the product aren't synthetic or toxic in any way. (Uh, you DO read ingredient labels, don't you?)

However, for those organic gardeners out there who in one green breath decry the use of Miracle Gro on your tomatoes, and yet still have a soft spot in your heart for Scotts (possibly softened by breathing in too much of their Weed N' Feed while walking the aisles of any Big Box store this time of year) then by all means go ahead and buy Scott's CEO Jimmy Hagedorn's product. Go ahead and contribute your hard-earned dollars if you have no personal and ethical principles against a company that is responsible for all those synthetics and chemicals lacing the countryside. In this failing economy, if you feel it your fiscal responsibility to shore up any possibly faltering profits of Jimmy's company, then, show some pity and stock up on some of their alleged Organic line to keep them afloat in their little toxic lake.

Be mindful, too, that it takes a lot of capital for them to support a cadre of litigious-happy lawyers who have nothing better to do than, oh say, sue a small, up and coming, truly organic company in New Jersey a couple of years ago because the company dared to put out a product using the same packaging colors as Miracle Gro (Scott's evil child): Green & Yellow. Who knew those colors were copyrighted and patented? If so, then someone better warn Schultz and Sta-Green and Ortho and several other garden-product companies using the coveted green and yellow banners.

While you're at it, give em an "atta boy" for all the research and development of more organic (or faux organic) products they've promised to do. CERTAINLY, you wouldn't think for a minute that any profits they make from shilling their pseudo-organic line would possibly fall into their R&D coffers toward more and future synthetic and chemical products..........now do you? Tsk...tsk. So skeptical.

Well, someone's got to be. And I guess that leaves me and my skeptical minions who - even if Scotts slathered its products in USDA Organic Seals - we wouldn't buy them on principle alone. Now, some organic gardeners may say: "If even this back-door approach brings in some new kids on the organic block to a greener way or gardening, then it can't be all bad". As someone who would dearly love to see more synthetic-chemical lovers morph green, I must admit I'd be more enthusiastic about this pseudo-organic posturing if it were just anyone but Scotts. As rash as this may read, to me....Scotts selling organics is like Hitler going door to door selling Girl Scout Cookies. Nice gesture. But would you really want to buy from him?

Bottom line, if they garnish it with neon lights, put green and yellow pants on it and taught it to dance....it's still from Scott's. 'Nuff said.

Although I might consider paying the price of admission to see a bag of their crap dance.