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Organic Consumers Association

OCA Exposes 'Organic Cheaters' at West Coast Trade Show

The Organic Consumers Association has long fought against what it calls "organic cheater brands" - personal care products that use the name "organic" in the product name or brand, yet are not truly organic products at all. This year at the Expo West Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California, the OCA staged a very visible public protest to expose what it calls "sham poo products" that are "organic cheaters."

The protest was part of the OCA's Coming Clean Campaign which continues to expose dishonest or misleading products in the skin care industry. Due in large part to the OCA's efforts, Whole Foods now says it will enforce honest labeling by taking a closer look at the word "organic" on personal care products (

I was present at the protest, where I spoke with some of the participants and captured some video footage of the action. You can watch the full video right now on YouTube:

The protest was largely peaceful, and even though police did search the protestors -- a violation of their 4th Amendment rights -- they did not make any arrests. New Hope Media, the company that organizes the Expo West trade show each year, dispatched staffers to act as human shields to visually block the protest signs by standing in front of them. I attempted to get some of the New Hope Media personnel to explain why they were standing in front of the signs, asking them if they were attempting to block the signs, and they told me that they actually had no intention of blocking anything, that they were just "standing here" for no particular reason. (Yeah, right...)

They couldn't say, of course, that the "organic cheater" brands whose signs they were blocking also happened to be some of the largest paying exhibitors at the show, and these show organizers were no doubt attempting to shield these companies from being publicly shamed. That act alone raises the all-important question: Why is New Hope Media protecting organic cheater brands?

There's something you need to know about the Expo West trade show: That show has an on-duty FDA officer who runs around the show threatening companies that make truthful health claims on their product labels. New Hope Media is apparently quite content with an FDA tyrant running around the show threatening people for telling the truth, but when the Organic Consumers Association tries to expose the truth about organic cheater brands, New Hope Media places itself in the position of defending the cheaters!

Why is it illegal to tell the truth at Expo West, but it's perfectly fine for some companies to lie to consumers through misleading product names... and New Hope Media will actually go to bat for those cheaters by sending people onto the street to disrupt a public protest that exposes the lies!

I find this all quite fascinating. Expo West is a terrific trade show with lots of really great companies sharing their health products, but it does seem that New Hope Media is eroding its own credibility by going to bat for organic cheater brands. Instead of defending organic cheater brands, the company might do itself a favor by requiring them to have honest labels before they can exhibit at the show!

Watch the video yourself to see the signs being blocked by New Hope Media employees (the guys in the suits):

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