While a good portion of America was jostling around their televisions rooting for the winning touchdown, I was waiting for The Ad. Sunday’s primetime event heralded the first time in our nation’s history that millions of Americanswould witness and be inspired by the USDA Organic seal—all at the same time.
The Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Super Bowl ad may have been a milestone for organic, but do most football fans understand what it really means?
This place so pure you can feel it…
Gorgeously set in a pristine sylvan setting, Zoë Kravitz suggests we “experience something together.” She emotes the feeling of purity, tapping and rolling the bottle suggestively before cracking the top and letting us share its effervescence. “Beer in its organic form” and—voila—the USDA seal is displayed.
Do 111 million viewers understand what the seal means?
Some absolutely do, but many, I fear, do not. They will see Kravitz’s beauty and the setting and think of a trendy newfangled way to drink beer instead of wine and spirits. The ad is inspiring and clever. But it doesn’t tell us enough about what’s behind the beer.
Organic means pure ingredients from the farm to the brewery.
The farmers who grow the barley and hops adhere to strict organic farming methods regulated by our USDA. It takes three years of growing this way before a farm can be certified organic by an accredited inspector.
Farmers cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or genetically-modified seeds. They must recycle natural resources and preserve the biodiversity of their farmscapes. They recycle resources and build organic matter in soils and containers that sequester carbon from our warming atmosphere.
The basic ingredients that humankind has brewed for centuries are carefully purchased by the certified organic beer maker. They must collect copies of their farmer’s organic certification and assure the purity of their practices throughout the brewing process. Organic brewers keep all non-organic ingredients separate to prevent commingling or contamination, so nothing sullies the final stein.
Brewers too must undergo yearly inspections and become certified to the USDA standard if they wish to emblazon the organic seal.
The materials they are allowed to use are reviewed by a federal advisory committee for their impact on human health and the environment. Every four years or so the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets and evaluates everything growers and manufacturers can use to farm and brew effectively—the public always weighs in.
Good for the beer drinkers and the farmers.
It turns out that organic farmers are, for the most part, more profitable and create more prosperity in their locales than their conventional cousins. In counties with clusters of organic farmers and organic businesses, the poverty rate goes down, and income goes up.
Organic beer drinkers can rest assured that their quaff of liquid bread helped an American Farmer succeed and flourish. They were never exposed to chemicals while drinking it nor were their families or farm workers.
The land was not degraded, water ran pure, and the soil was nurtured as a living thing. Birds, bees and wildlife were protected in the process.
Perhaps the drinker herself is shielded from toxic residual chemicals that come from conventional chemical agricultural practices.
How do we connect the dots for consumers?
Beer is an ancient brew that may have inspired the very beginnings of agriculture. For centuries the malted barley and grains grew and were fermented without chemical inputs.
The allure of the Super Bowl ad may inspire today’s drinker to reach for the Anheuser-Busch organic beer, but they need to understand more.
If we are going to clean up our act and sustainably grow crops, more people need to drink organic beer and eat organic food. Eventually, they must choose to buy GOTS certified organic textiles because cotton is the most toxically grown crop on the planet.
In order to make those decisions every time, they must be educated. Organic is a step above natural and non-GMO—it’s the best beer you can drink.
How do we educate 111 million people?
The Organic Trade Association, Organic Voices and leaders in the Organic Industry imagine a world that has resources to educate consumers on the meaning behind the USDA organic seal.
Together they are coordinating an effort to advance a voluntary industry-invested organic research, promotion and education check-off-like program, referred to as “GRO Organic” (shorthand for Generate Results and Opportunity for Organic).
In addition to funding research and education for new organic farmers, they intend to educate organic consumers on the benefits and transparency behind the organic seal.
The initiative will be collaboratively designed and implemented by organic stakeholders—and they are looking for your input!
If you have a BIG IDEA on how best to GRO Organic you can E-mail GROideas@ota.com and embed or attach your input.
In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate the moment 111 million people laid eyes upon the Organic seal by toasting an organic beer!