David Bronner is the grandson of Dr. Emanuel Bronner, the founder of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, one of the world’s largest personal care product companies to be certified under the USDA National Organic Program. David has a B.A. in Biology from Harvard, and has been president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps since 1998. He is a board member of both the HIA and Vote Hemp, a contributor to the Huffington Post, and is working to bring hemp farming back to the US, as well as raise awareness of GMO, sustainability, and fair trade best practices.
Why you should listen –
David comes on Bulletproof Radio to discuss the problem with GMOs, the dangers of using chemicals and genetic engineering on our food, how Bronner’s Magic Soaps keeps its supply chain and products so pure, and why he is so passionate about the movements for hemp, sustainability, and psychedelics. Enjoy the show!
What You’ll Hear
- 0:10 – Cool Fact of the Day!
- 0:34 – Welcome David Bronner
- 1:54 – The history of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
- 7:11 – David’s side projects w/ hemp, sustainability, & psychedelics
- 15:32 – The problem with GMO’s
- 19:05 – Chemicals vs genetic engineering
- 22:44 – Lobbying for labeling of GMO’s
- 28:59 – Keeping the Magic Soap supply chain pure
- 31:45 – Maintaining integrity in the face of economic pressure
- 36:09 – Defining “Constructive Capitalism”
- 42:05 – Top three recommendations for kicking more ass and being Bulletproof!
Dave: Hey everyone, it’s Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that in the US genetically modified organisms are in about 80% of conventional processed industrial food. Most foods that contain GMOs are also processed foods, which is one more reason that you might want to think about eating real food. Today’s guest knows a thing or two about genetically modified organisms because he’s Doctor David Bronner, grandson of the late Emanuel Bronner who founded the famous Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Company.
If you listen to this podcast, the odds are that you’ve probably walked in to any organic grocer anywhere in North America and found these crazily labeled bottles of soap that have nothing in them but soap and they’re made from conscious ingredients. In fact, Dr. Bronner’s has just one of the world’s largest personal care companies that’s fully certified as USDA Organic. David’s been president of the company since 1998. He’s also a practicing vegan.
David, welcome to the show.
David Bronner: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Dave: If you’re watching this on video, you’ll see that David has an epic painting of a dragon up behind him and if you’re driving in traffic, well you missed out, but it’s cool. I’m really stoked to have you on, man. You’re representing a company that’s pretty epic in terms of the amount of time it’s been out and just the commitment to quality and even some softer, gentler principles around being kind to your neighbor sort of things. What’s the deal? What’s the history of Dr. Bronner’s?
David Bronner: Yeah. We have the extreme good fortune to our grandfather, me, my brother, are 50/50 in the company. My mom is CFO, my brother-in-law is Chief Operations. It’s a totally family affair. Our grandfather was in soap, a third generation master soap maker from German-Jewish … A soap making family in Southern Germany. In fact, his grandfather started manufacturing soap in 1858. By the time my granddad was born the family enterprise had really gotten pretty big and there’s three different factories in Southern Germany, including Heilbronn where my granddad grew up.
He was a pretty intense guy from day one. He was in his 20s in the late ’20s. He had been apprentice to a master soap maker in the guild system at the time and had the equivalent of a masters. This was also the time when Hitler and fascism and the rising tide of just badness over there and my granddad was pretty Zionist and political. His dad and uncle who were really running the show and more bourgeois assimilationist, the madness is going to blow over. It just caused a generational clash with them on that. Also he had newfangled ideas on soap making and just a lot of generational whatever. He finally bailed, came over here in 1929, became a consultant for a U.S. soap industry.
Things were getting worse quick over there. He was trying desperately to get his parents and family out. Then, he did get his 2 younger sisters out but his parents refused to leave until it was too late. Nazi’s nationalized the factory in 1940, parents were gases soon thereafter. The same time his wife, my dad’s mother died when my dad was very young at age 4. A lot of tragedy hit my granddad all at once and he’s always a mystical, spiritual dude and just had these very intense experiences of experiencing this pain and tragedy. Also this divine oneness at the heart of reality. Felt urgently called that if we don’t realize this transcending unity across religious traditions and ethnic divides in a world of nuclear weapons, we’re going to kill ourselves. He felt called on this mission that you had to convey this, urgently or we were going to all perish. At the same time in a post war era, this is the better living through chemistry and diverse industries were moving into petroleum as the primary feed stocks.
Even personal care and body washes became petro-chemical detergent based. Granddad’s natural family soaps, this old world quality is really fantastic, ecological, biodegradable high quality soap is no longer in vogue. He launched his own soap business. Mostly he was going around the country lecturing what he called the Moral ABC and advancing his peace plan and selling his soap on the side. He realized people were coming to hear him speak, more to get the soap than to hear what he had to say. That’s when he had the insight to put his message on each bottle of soap he was selling. Which the soap always was more to sell the label than vice versa. It was genius, how often do you do to the bathroom and you forget a magazine or whatever and he’s got you.
With rise of counter culture, rejection of corporate America, the soap was perfect. It’s biodegradable, versatile, use it to wash body, hair, kids, dog, plates, you know. Wash by the river, not worry about it and this message of peace, really become the iconic soap of the era. Then eventually with the health food movement, he was a real pioneer in that as well, just grew up with the counter culture, helped the movement. Always the company was also a non-profit religious organization. All in God faith. It’s still a cooperate name.
The IRS disagreed with his tax exempt self designation. He lost in the 80s the IRS and was forced into bankruptcy and his health was failing. My dad at that point kind of took the reign. My dad had his own company that I grew up working in. Chemical specialty consultant. Developed among other things fire fighting foam for Monsanto’s then fire fighting division. I grew up selling fire fighters on foam, which is now pretty standard on structured forest fires. Anyways, my dad reorganized the company as a for profit. We have this non-profit religious DNA. All profits not needed for … We cap all our compensation at 5 to 1 and all profits not needed to reinvest in the company are dedicated to the causes we believe in.
Among other things that’s fair trade, sustainable organic agriculture. I feel like the industrial agriculture machine is just out of control. The seed industry in this country’s been bought by the chemical industry. Fast forward now, they’re engineering genetic engineering resistance to the pesticides so big and blasts our food with increasing amounts of toxic pesticide. It’s totally out of control and unsustainable. We’re also very involved in recommercializing industrial hemp, cannabis reform generally integrating the psychedelics consciously and responsibly among the board of MAPS. Associated psychedelic studies. We actually hosted them at the burn this year. They’re I think pretty much one of the best products on the planet helping…
Dave: Talk a little bit more about that. I’ve touched on my own use Ayahuasca and things like that. I suspect some listeners might not know about MAPS.
David Bronner: Sure. MAPS, it’s somewhat of a mouthful but it’s Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. Its founder, Rick Doblin just e-founded it in the in mid 80s, the year that DEA scheduled MDMA, Ecstasy, MDMA had been used by an underground psychotherapist community with great, huge positive results. Treated trauma, couples counseling and inevitably though it got out on the street and became this huge recreational deal and DEA, this is a say no to drugs, drug war, zealot hysteria, Rick did a great job fighting the machine. There’s actually a really good book out that I highly recommend called Acid Test. It’s primarily about Rick Doblin and his project.
He’s been working the system. He actually went to the Harvard Kennedy school. Did his PhD on bringing psychedelic medicine through FDA approval process. Which he is now in process of doing. He’s just working the system hard. He’s just getting high level allies plugging into this project. He’s getting huge support now from the Veteran’s Administration and just making all kinds of headway because obviously military’s got a huge problem with treatment resistant PTSD. All these veterans are really traumatized and there’s suicide. There’s more, people die more from suicide than actually in the war. It’s horrible but this is a basic drug.
This is a drug that when it’s used in a psychotherapeutic context with a trained therapist enables incredibly difficult emotional material to be worked on and without re-traumatizing the person. Which is kind of the problem PTSD is when those memories come up they just re-traumatize and it’s just a bad cycle. Rick’s kind of sees it all as medicinal but he’s also involved in cannibals for PTSD. LSD psychotherapy. The primary product focus is MDMA just because organizations need to focus.
There’s another organization called Hefter that’s doing the psilocybin side and doing really good work with psilocybin over at John Hopkins, bringing that through for end of life anxiety in cancer patients and having some really incredible results. There’s some real nice coordination going on. I guess MDMA and psilocybin and Ayahuasca are the main psychedelic medicine cross over points into the larger culture. Ayahuasca because it didn’t have all the baggage from the counterculture in the 60s. It’s kind of more impossible to use recreationally.
Dave: You could say that again. You go to a rave and throw up on everyone and then lay around. Yeah, that’s just not so fun.
David Bronner: Yeah. Right. It’s like some hard difficult work. It’s great when your in a blissed out love space.
Dave: Yeah. I’m with you there. You’re actually supporting these things with your work with Dr. Bronner’s or are these sort of like you make donations to these or are these your personal projects you work with? What’s you relationship with these companies or you say these non-profits who are working to legalize molecules that exist in nature?
David Bronner: I would say it’s my personal professional life are integrating ever more closely. I have a great supportive family. It’s a little spicy. We each have our projects and passions and causes. This one is maybe a little spicier and traditionally was handled outside the company even though that was where the funding source was but I think my family’s getting more comfortable with us being more public about it but it’s still a little bit in the background. We’re more public facing on other causes such as fair trade or GMO labeling or organics.
Psychedelics are still somewhat spicy but non the less it’s hugely important for everybody to stand up and speak out because this is a religious war on our sacraments and the way we’re going to fight it in freedom is standing up to the power. Being, I’m hey a responsible business person, rocking my life. Father, coach, son, whatever, husband and these sacraments in psychedelics are very helpful. As that happens taking a page from the gay rights movement and just coming out and speaking the truth. We’ll get there.
Dave: I’m with you on that on many of those things. Psychedelics have improved some of my levels of performance and certainly haven’t harmed me. It’s one of those things where when you’re willing to talk about it, you find out that there’s also someone on either side of you that also did it and just never mentioned it. It definitely has some of the flavor of what happened in 60s and 70s with the gay movement. You’re like, there’s more of it happening than you know.
David Bronner: Yeah. You just give permission to open up cultural space. That’s where Rick was. He was doing this back in the 80s. That’s crazy. I can’t imagine doing during the height of the drug war hysteria. This guy’s super brave and smart and strategic and also very honest. I think part of the problem coming out of with Leery and the 60s was there was not enough attention or honestly about how difficult and terrible the psychedelic experience can be if –
Dave: It can be ruinous if you … There have been people that have been harmed by them, when you play with powerful things you can be hurt. That’s true of almost anything whether it’s a drug or not.
David Bronner: Yeah. Absolutely. Often times the most rewarding experiences are when you go through the real dark, hard stuff but that’s where the real work is done and MAPS I think you can apply for example they have a project called Zendo, if you happen to having an overwhelming experience, instead of going to the med tent with the fluorescent lights, the pretty much worst possible. You can go to this really sweet little space with trained sitters and hold space and help you navigate through to a positive outcome. Having this much more realistic approach and just kind of stay with the difficult material, you can work through it and help people not get stuck and traumatized.
Dave: I didn’t realize we’d end up talking about that but that’s really cool that you’re taking some of your cooperate side and you’re applying it towards lobbying for things that honestly, I think it’s hard to argue that we don’t have a right to chemistry. Sorry stuff exists in nature and people have been using it for tens of thousands of years and some of it’s new but hey it’s mine it’s not owned by anyone and certainly I can’t fathom the reason that it shouldn’t be legal at least in some circumstances.
Well, let’s talk about the flip side of that though because hey, if it’s okay for you and I to have psychedelics isn’t it okay for Monsanto to hack some seeds and spray a bunch of crap on the soil. What’s the difference there? Why are you opposed to GMOs yet in favor of legal chemistry in other areas?
David Bronner: Well, I’m not in principle opposed to genetic engineering. I know the technology’s used appropriately for example making insulin for diabetics.
David Bronner: Engineer E. Coli so you don’t have to buy up a bunch a cow pancreases for insulin anymore. That’s great. I’m a biology major myself and I was consciously optimistic about this technology as applied to agriculture and like a lot of people still do today this is about drug tolerance and reducing chemical inputs and all the things like to think is happening but in the last 5, 10 years it became increasingly clear that in fact what is happening the applied applications we don’t have two traits. We’re 99% genetically engineers crops on U.S. soil engineered to do 2 things.
One producing insecticide, tolerate herbicide. Huge amounts of herbicide. Both trades have rapidly created resistance in the respected insect and pest populations. Insects in the weeds have now developed resistance to these chemicals, rapidly. Which every weed and pesticide is not on Monsanto’s payroll is wondering what’s going to happen. Much like overdosing antibiotics in factory farms is rapidly creating these super germs so they’re antibiotic resistance. It’s the same thing. Massive blasting of chemicals and herbicide has rapidly created this resistance which either they’re the dumbest people ever or the smartest.
I think they saw this coming a million miles away and much like Enron, gaining their energy markets, bamboozled they’re cultural leads. Oh, this is a whole new next level energy that’s going to deliver cheap efficient energy. It was just a whole scandal and sham to it’s core and I feel like this is what’s happening in the chemical industry has taken over the seed industry and our food markets and has gained them. They’re selling more and more chemicals even as they’re spinning people; oh we’re reducing chemical inputs. It’s ridiculous and in fact just today EPA just gave final approval to 24D soy and corn crops, and 24D is half of Agent Orange.
It’s a super toxic herbicide that we were not supposed to need to use anymore because we had the glyphosate-ready crops that – glyphosate is supposedly less toxic herbicide, is going to take care of the problem and the weeds. Now that doesn’t work on half the country. Now they’re desperate and they’re bringing back this older, much more toxic herbicide and just got the Obama administration, USDA, EPA to green light it. It just shows the power of this industry and they buy out both parties and they get their people in USDA, EPA and FDA. We’re just getting our foods is increasingly saturated in their chemicals and genetic engineering is this process on steroids. It’s not backing off. This whole charade of oh, we’re going to have less chemicals because of genetic engineering is completely false.
Dave: The real issue is more so the excessive use of chemicals or are you also concerned about the built in production of pesticides? Is one of them a bigger issue or are they both equal evils?
David Bronner: It’s important to understand that even though the insecticidal protein, BT protein, is produced inside the plant, the plant is expressing this insecticide on the entire growing season and ever single cell of the plant. This is the opposite of integrated pest management where you use chemical controls judicially just as needed with non-chemical methods like cover cropping and crop rotations to break pest cycles and instead they’ve just been blasting glyphosate and using a BT insecticide on these corn-on-corn-on-corn cycles that just because we got the ethanol boondoggle where they’re 40% corn acres going into our cars and it’s complete inefficient negative energy return model. Another scandal again that they’ve got going on.
Expressing the insecticide within the plant itself, you’re putting huge amounts of this insecticide into the environment and that is rapidly selected for resistance. Now they’re putting all these soil-injected insecticides, again that we’re not supposed to have to use anymore, and now we’re using 50% of the BT corn crop and even worse and the muinicnatoids. In the last 10 years, these are the systemic insecticides that now coat 90% of corn and soy seeds. Two of which are now banned in Europe because of they’re pretty much proven link to colony collapse disorder in bees.
This is the … BT trade doesn’t work because they just over did it. Now they’re putting all these other powerful worse insecticides than ever. It’s kind of the same. It’s the same result even though the insecticidal protein is expressed in the plant verses producing an enzyme in the plant that allows you to blast it from the outside like they’re doing on herbicide. You’re getting to the same place.
Dave: A lot of the research that I’ve done on this involves soil biology. When you spray glyphosate, what you’re doing is you’re making the soil fungus pump out 500 times more of the toxins that it makes. If penicillium makes penicillin you piss it off with glyphosate it makes 500 times more. In this case penicillin’s useful but the other poisons that molds make they kill animals, they kill people and they can have devastating effects on your autoimmunity and things like that.
By genetically modifying the seeds and then spraying the stuff there what we end up with is a whole broken soil biome and a lot of people listening may understand like a gut biome is the bacteria in your stomach growing, we all know about probiotics. The same thing happens in your garden. When you start spraying this stuff on there it’s kind of like what happens when you take a bunch of antibiotics. It destroys your ability to break down your food and we’ve done it to our soil and that’s the reason that I’m particularly concerned about genetically modified organisms.
It’s the spraying of the chemicals and there’s also probably some immune and some allergy things and some fertility issues with genetically modified seeds themselves. However, I don’t think there’s enough research to say that conclusively but I would like to know so I could experiment and see whether I’m eating it or not. What work are you doing around just labeling of GMOs?
David Bronner: Well, labeling is key because once you give consumers informed choice then they can make wise choices to not consume the genetically engineered food and I share … I’m not necessarily super motivated by the potential ill effects of the genetic … The actual genetically engineered proteins themselves but it does give me pause and cause for concern but there is no doubt that the herbicides and the insecticides are very toxic and that’s very much saturating our food to the point about making it to the soil that’s crucial. It’s dirt, it’s dead.
To take genetically engineered corn to harvest they’re using at least 8 different pesticides now and they’re using fungicides and everything necessary. They need to put like 3 different fungicides on them. They’re using 2 or 3 different herbicides, 2 or 3 different insecticides. The plants are sick, the soil is sick, the system’s sick. It doesn’t have the natural beneficial organisms. It doesn’t have the natural pest predators. It’s just a completely broken system and they’re just pouring more and more and more chemicals into this to get these things to harvest. Labeling is kind of the easy initial step.
Banning these things is a … You know that would be great but that’s a bigger lift and a lot of people are not ready to go there. You can have a debate about the marriage or lack thereof of genetically engineered food but we all have a right to know it’s not food. That’s something that’s a winning proposition. Except for, of course, these guys have infinite money and just spent tens of millions of dollars confusing people to vote against their own interests. Making up stories how a simple label at the store was going to drive up cost of food 800 bucks a household or just spreading all kinds of misinformation. Never take on labeling directly.
It’s always kind of like, well you know labeling might be good idea but this is just the worst measure ever and let’s make up a bunch of crap about it. It’s just that the same type of regulation in effect in 64 other countries that American food companies all ready label for. They’ve just successfully been able to manipulate and confuse voters to vote against their own interest. California, super disappointing. Washington, super disappointing but we’ve learned from these campaigns the food movements really getting it’s act together. We just won in Vermont in May. I think this was a big huge breakthrough.
Jackson county in Oregon, in southern Oregon led by family farmers, because they banned genetically engineered crops and Willamette valley grows out a lot of the organic seed for the rest of the country, or just seed in general and they’re growing out all these herbicide tolerant, lab-ready sugar beets and the sugar beets are cross breeding and contaminating all the grass. Just all kinds of different plants getting contaminated with these herbicide tolerant genetics. The fact that they not along beat them but they crushed them, 66, 34 being outspent 3 to 1. It just shows there’s a lot of momentous happening. Oregon I feel is an ideal battle ground for that reason among others.
Dave: I live on a really fertile, large island, on Vancouver island, that there’s a lot of agriculture around. I would love to see the whole island turn into a GMO free zone because you can preserve soil biodiversity when everyone does it because you have a natural barrier. I have no idea if that would ever happen but I would totally support that kind of an idea of doing in a county, doing it in a valley, doing it in a geographically contiguous space so that we can conserve natural soil biology because if we keep doing this everywhere we’ll have permanently altered the planetary biome in a way that’s honestly we have no idea what we’re doing.
Spraying these chemicals everywhere has long term multi-generational consequences. I agree with you labeling is the first thing to do. What is Dr. Bronner’s doing? Are you directly supporting these initiatives? You say we won in Vermont and what not. Are you applying company resources to supporting the idea that people should know what’s in their stuff?
David Bronner: Yeah. Absolutely, we’re a major financial contributors to the different political efforts across the board. Pretty much if you’re a group or doing good work we’re going to support you and then organizationally right now in Oregon, our head of marketing Christina Volgyesi is actually based in Portland and she’s a real force. We’re just leveraging. We have 30 demo people in stores traveling around.
We actually got these neon blue turquoise GMO corn seeds from Ray Seidler. Amazing former senior scientist from the EPA who just wanted from the inside out the collusion between the chemical industry and the EPA has just habituated any meaningful regulation of GMOs and pesticides. We’ve go this great visual crop we’re rolling around with. In general we’re just leveraging all our different resources into these fights. At the same time marijuana, cannabis reforms on the ballot there. Which I never thought I would be only spending 1% of my energy on that but that’s kind of reached a cultural tipping point and we’re not real concerned about it.
Where as genetic engineering, we’re close to take a transformational moment. It’s still another decade or something as far as something super fundamental but we’re kind of running out of time. Like you said, we can’t do this. We can’t be killing the soil and there’s only so much chemical load we can do on this. There’s a recovery period and we have to become conscious. Make good choices. Make wise sustainable food choices and change our agricultural policies that are just reinforcing all the bad agricultural practices and punishing the right ones.
Dave: How do you kept bad stuff out of your soap? There’s a lot of agricultural inputs that go into Dr. Bronner’s soap. How do go through your whole supply train and know you’re not getting basically unhealthy stuff into your soap?
David Bronner: We’re certified organic under the USDA national program that certifies food. Which is not a perfect program but it’s pretty meaningful and rigorous and depending on your own certifier and your own integrity you can do a lot guarantee the purity of your product and ingredients and we actually have out own projects in our major material. Coconut oil is our number 1 material and we had a Tsunami relief project in Sri Lanka that one thing let to another and we have our own fair trade coconut factory in Sri Lanka in the coconut triangle and work with small farmers there and have compost programs, organic training, and so it’s a super secure pure source of our coconut oil.
We have a really cool palm oil project in Ghana. It’s biodiverse grew out of this non-profit that was doing really good work. Palm oil plantations in Indonesia are generally horrible and are destroying rain forests and orangutan habitat and [crosstalk 00:29:53]. We got a really cool project in Ghana. There’s actually another really cool on in Ecuador that we’re starting to partner with.
Olive oil we source primarily from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank who never, didn’t grow organic. Just to be clear, we are not anti-Israel; we source a minority 10% of our need from the Israeli side. Dr. Bronner’s sister actually went to the kibbutz out of Nazi Germany and I’ve got family through Israel. Actually it’s a second cousin is, turns out, to be our supplier through that. Let’s see, hemp oil, we use certified hemp oil out of Canada. You know I guess fortunately as far as genetically engineering goes, we don’t even use any at risk ingredients. We don’t use any soy, corn, canola, cotton materials in our products. We don’t have to have, fortunately, those kinds of problems that other companies do.
Dave: That’s remarkable for a soap company anyway. Finding, even if you go to a good organic store, the number of soaps that are made out of basically soy beans and canola, that ingredients not organic, but that’s the major oil in your soap. It’s so easy to cut corners there and from what I perceive I haven’t really seen any corner cutting at least in the 20 or so years I’ve known about your products. How do you maintain that? How do you keep from getting those economic pressures to just put a little bit of the less pure stuff in there?
David Bronner: We’ve just been rewarded and lucky to be able to make the right choices and have customers who support what we’re doing. If we have to raise prices we explain, hey, we’re going organic fair trade, this is why and people dig it so … We’re just in a real fortunate position. I don’t know, whatever, good karma. I guess we’re lucky. We really try to do the right thing. It’s not like we’re perfect. It’s definitely less than perfect things going on but for the most part we’re always trying to do the right thing.
It’s our ethics. Our ethics is like it’s not just what we do to our profits out there. It’s like what are doing in our backyard. Our operation needs to be clean. Our supply chain needs to be clean. That’s the first responsibly before getting money to the breast cancer foundation because that’s your target demographic that you’re going to sell your cosmetics too. That’s a lot of the social responsibility to motives other companies and is pretty kind of hollow. Whereas for us it’s at the core. Yeah. Mostly we’re just very fortunate … It’s not like we don’t have difficult decisions to make but generally we just take the high road and kind of lucked out, I guess.
Dave: You just built a company culture that you just don’t do that. It’s admirable. You’re done a lot of work there. It helps out in scale but I share similar values there. You just don’t want to cut quality to make an extra 20 cents. It’s not worth it and it’s not what people want. You have to lie if you want to cut quality and not tell people and that’s just not cool. Kudos for sticking with that for 150 years. That’s something I haven’t seen a lot of companies do.
David Bronner: Yeah. Thank you. I give the example recently it was Costco; we were going to go into Costco. We had to set a projection and we just wanted to do a test in Northern California and it was like holy crap. This is taking off. It’s crazy. If we actually were to go nation wide, grow too fast, on the one hand wow that’s like 10 million bucks that were leaving on the table if we don’t do it and look at all the good we can do with that. Then on the other hand, well that’s going to totally stretch and destroy the supply chains we have.
It’s going to force us to go to uncertified sources and if we just kind of do it more organic. Just take a little more time, we can just go ahead and grow into this. It’s all about maybe it’s a little bit slow growth mentality. Not that we’re growing that slow, we’re growing pretty fast but not just going for chasing business just to chase it.
Dave: It’s a … Costco’s an interesting company. I had some yays with Costco. They were really straight foreword, if we’re getting to do more than 20% of the revenues for a small company we wont touch the deal because we’ve found that we stress the companies too much and we don’t want to break our suppliers. I thought that was really cool of them. They were very into partnering and I say that mostly because I want them to buy my book when I launch it December 2nd. Just kidding. I found them to be a really reputable company. The supplier purchasing discussion was really above board. It’s cool that you went through and you did it and you stuck with your values but I was actually really impressed at the way that they looked at their effect on the business ecosystem as well as the environmental one.
David Bronner: They are, when it comes to a big box retailer, far and away the best. You know they pay people extremely well, they all have good benefits, they are all lifers. Whereas Walmart it’s this horrible internal refuse. They’re doing food drives at Christmas time because no ones making enough money. Yeah, Costco’s a total another category of retailer for sure.
Dave: They haven’t gone so far as to talk about constructive capitalism but you have. How do you define constructive capitalism? What is that?
David Bronner: My granddad is it’s basically where you share the profits with the workers and make it. It’s just basically respecting that everything we make and consume has a human labor component and is that labor respected or is it exploited? All too often it’s exploited. Our stuff is made in conditions that are just hellish and horrible in the wages and working conditions. Constructive capitalism was my granddads term for being respectful in your business dealings. Making sure everyone’s getting a fair deal out of the arrangement.
Given that, let the free market rip. It was not he did believe in respecting people and being fair. I’m a little more liberal than he is but just really respect also that … You need to reward initiative. I believe in private enterprise and private property. The power of individuals to really make a difference. I think that’s kind of where it’s at with it.
Dave: The idea is you can still be a capitalist but you can treat people like human beings and not destroy the planet while you’re doing it.
David Bronner: Exactly.
Dave: That seems like a reasonable goal to me. Certainly one I share.
David Bronner: It’s very simple and comes back to us in a lot of different ways.
Dave: You reap what you sow as they say in agriculture anyway and other parts of life.
David Bronner: Yeah.
Dave: We’re coming up on the end of the show and I think everyone who’s listening to this knows where to find Dr. Bronner’s soap because you’re running a big brand that’s available at Whole Foods and many, many other grocers as a very clean soap. One I’ve used for many years. Maybe could you tell people where they could find out more about what you’re doing on the GMO initiative so that we can get the word out about that?
David Bronner: Absolutely, oregonrighttoknow.org is the website. You can go there, volunteer where ever you live in the country. Sign up for the phone banking. What we have and they don’t as people. People talking to people is the most effective voter contact. Hearing from real people laying it down, countering their BS is crucial. We look at the rhythm of the last couple of measures. They evaporate support early but then we close super hard. Like a tsunami we just surge hard at the end. We’ve almost won twice 49:51. Hard, close losses.
I feel this time in Oregon we got it. If we get enough people signed up plugged in. Then also we need fire power. Whoever’s in a place that they can donate, we do need to have critical minds share on broadcast TV. We need to be talking to people where they’re at and a lot of times that’s in front of the nightly news. Making sure our messages and messengers reach a threshold. We’re never going to outspend them but we do need to get certain critical levels to have a realistic shot. I feel really good. Everything’s cranking so much better I would say than the last couple cycles.
Pretty much across the board we’re in a really good position to close it out and win it. We win in Oregon and that will shift the country. We’ll get New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. We move to the in Connecticut and Maine. Join Vermont, New York and Connecticut are in second circuit with Vermont. That’ll flush the second circuit. Right now we’re in legal battle, or the movements in a legal battle with biotech over Vermont’s mandatory labeling. Courts are very political. They respond the cultural zeitgeist and if we make this a cultural inevitability then the courts will do the right thing. If we don’t then we’re dicey.
Dave: It’s awesome to see an entrepreneur running a sizable company spending so much energy and time to something that matters like that. Thanks for paying attention and thanks for caring. I really appreciate you doing that. Say that url one more time.
David Bronner: Oregonrighttoknow.org
Dave: Alright. We’ll like to that in the show notes but given the timing of this and November 4th there’s a vote on this. It’s called measure 92 in Oregon. I would love to see that win. We need more wins like that. This is not to ban anything. It’s just to say, hey, I have a right to know what’s in my food and I just can’t see a reason to vote against that. If a food manufacturer tells you it’s going to raise food costs, that’s a lie. I am a food manufacturer. I make chocolate. I make coffee. I make edible oils and it’s not going to change anything meaningful. I had to put a sticker on there anyway. Doesn’t change the cost.
David Bronner: No. It’s ridiculous.
Dave: There’s one question I’ve asked every guest on the show. I honestly have no idea how you’re going to answer it. I ask everyone based on your life, your life wisdom, not just what you do with soap or anything else but top 3 things you’ve learned. Top 3 recommendations for people who want to perform better or just basically kick more ass at life, not at any one thing like a sport?
David Bronner: Right. Okay. I guess check in with yourself and just make sure you’re doing, you’re making a hard choice and just check in with the heart. Spend some time with it. I guess take care of yourself health wise but don’t be afraid to party, cut lose. For me I get on this psychedelic train. That’s very helpful, it’s really helped me center on my higher moral center. Cannabis is a great daily check in for me. I’ll be in an argument with my wife and I’ll be like, I don’t want to not be right. I know I’m going to hit this and realize she’s got a point. I’m wrong but obviously that’s just the best that you can have something that can help you realize your higher truth. I don’t meditate but I’m sure that’s another super valid path. Whatever it is that can bring you to your center and spend more time in your center.
Dave: Thanks. Awesome. It’s been great chatting with you. I really appreciate all the work you’re doing and I got to say if you’re listening to this and you haven’t tried Dr. Bronner’s soap, it’s legit. It smells good. It’s got nothing in it. My rule at our house, one we follow pretty well is if you wouldn’t put it in our mouth don’t put it on your skin. You guys make that cut. I appreciate that.
David Bronner: Awesome. Brush your teeth. We’re going to come out with toothpaste. It’s not the best tasting but yeah, it’s super healthy and won’t hurt you.
Dave: I can’t wait to try it.
David Bronner: Yeah. Sweet. Thank you Dave for having me and the opportunity.
Dave: A lot of people don’t realize that I went to a great deal of effort to make Keurig compatible coffee cartridges. This means that if you have one of those machines that can take a K-cup you can use the bulletproof coffee cartridges in the same machine. The difference is that bulletproof cartridges, which are not licensed by the Keurig, are made from 100% recyclable materials and they’re nitrogen flushed for maximum freshness. You can check those out on upgradedself.com.