Politics, Supplements, Integrity
On the heels of our rant on Mega-Corporations like Nestle owning almost all of the major supplement brands, we were motivated to take a deeper dive into our Vitality Approved brands. Unfortunately, we found something.
In particular, we found that some of the Vitality Approved brands were being sold and promoted by unscrupulous characters. This is not an offense on its own, but the responses from brands themselves left much to be desired.
We rant today about politics, supplements, and integrity. Yes, politics. We'll talk about a line we drew in the sand and why two (maybe even three) brands will no longer be sold by us.
We were doing our pitbull thing, sniffing around the internet on the places many of us don't want to go. We look at the craziest supplement-selling sites just to see what's out there. So we ended up on Alex Jones's website.
If you don't know who Alex Jones is, good. Stop reading. He's not worth time or attention. I feel dirty using his name the three times I mention his name today. Most of us know him as another one of those loud-mouthed guys with a show that says so much crazy stuff. He’s very political and he makes dramatic unbelievable claims. A good one: the government is contaminating kids juice boxes and the water turning kids and frogs gay. Frogs.
I truly don't care about his politics. What does bother me is that he is one of the leading, most vocal "Sandy Hook Deniers". He is spouting the disgusting narrative that the tragedy that took 26 lives - 20 under the age of 8 - was faked.
Being a father of young children, a business owner who owned a shop a couple towns over from Newtown, cared for a few people directly impacted by the murders, and, you know, a human with empathy, I find that claim, the person who makes that claim, and the people who subscribe to that claim to be the lowest of the low.
If you overlap between Sandy Hook Denier and Woodstock Vitamins customer, leave now. Thanks for the support, but we aren't a good fit for you.
What Does This Have To Do With Vitamins?
There's a point to those strong words. Unfortunately, this guy also sells supplements on his site and his show. Why not, right? He is VERY successful at it, too. And he happens to sell a couple Vitality Approved brands. Of course he does...
It’s worth stating twice: I don't care what political team this guy is on. Red or blue, I don't care. If Anderson Cooper started hawking herbs, I'd say that he's not qualified to do so, but whatever... This is about something much bigger and more important than political leanings.
We reached out to the brands themselves to get their take on their product being sold by someone who says such horrible things so very publicly. We were hoping that they would say, “Oh, we didn’t realize he was saying those things.” Or even, “Yes we’re aware but we are not associating with him any longer.”
The universal answer we received? “We don't get involved in politics.” One owner even said, very bluntly, "He moves a lot of product."
We DO Get Involved In “Politics”
It seems no one (at least anyone who is smart) dares to venture into the political waters anymore. The climate here in America has become insanely polarized on all topics. People seem itchy - ready for a fight, not a discussion - about everything! People lose lifelong friends and even family over these debates.
I never said I’m smart.
It is my firm belief that these brands are using the easy way out. Because it is so tense and people are so upset, saying "Hey man, we don't do politics, we sell good vitamins" seems like a safe, middle ground position. In reality, they are excusing themselves from accountability in the name of profit.
If these brands don't see the difference between politics and what this guy is doing, then they don't get it.
This isn’t politics. This is about being comfortable with your brand being associated with certain people. Advocates for your brand are representing you to the public. We have a responsibility as owners to ensure our products are being used and promoted by people who align with our mission and values. I hate to use the analogy, but if it were a Nazi, would that be acceptable? If it were a member of the KKK or some hate group? If Darth Vader sells Woodstock Vitamins products but spends his time torturing people and blowing up planets, should I check to see how many units of ours he is moving first? I probably shouldn’t have sold to him in the first place.
Beyond the brand values, who wants to make these people rich? Do I want to be responsible for someone like this guy getting richer, even if I am getting richer too? The larger his finances grow, the larger his power and reach for hateful, heinous messages grows.
The ‘cut to the chase’ is that we’re dumping these brands. They don’t want to be accountable or get involved, so we think they’re hypocrites. They should put an asterisk on their “About Us” page after all the good they are trying to do.
We are removing the following brands from our stores:
- Sovereign Silver - makers of colloidal silver products (We have our own option if needed)
- Nature's Brands - makers of our Herbal Choice Mari skin care and a few of our supplements including Phytovitamins.
- “Brand X” - this brand will remain unnamed until we get confirmation of their stance, still unknown at this point, but it’s a big issue.
This is an important point that transcends this rant: If you think people today are upset because of politics, you're only about 25% right.
That’s Not How Any Of This Works
Let’s review an important concept that seems to be lost with the team-sports, tribal mentality our country is deeply engaged in: We have a responsibility to and for each other. I believe it is referred to as the golden rule. It is a social contract that should persist above and beyond greed, hate, and anger.
We are not living life alone on an island. We are together. To survive - to thrive - we need to stop looking at other people as “them” or “those people.” We need to be empathetic to all people, especially those outside of our tiny bubbles who are being oppressed, abused, harmed, or otherwise.
Most people today are upset due to what they see as a violation of this contract. Deporting immigrants, oppressing minorities, suppressing our voices via hostility towards the press or around voting, not holding law enforcement accountable to escalating violence against citizens, leaving Americans without power after a hurricane, rolling back environmental protections that keep our water clean, shouting falsehoods and turning a blind eye to facts… I could go on and on. None of these are political issues. These are social issues.
This is what these brands are missing. You can’t set yourself up as a socially conscious brand while simultaneously selling products to another business who profits off of heinous lies.
An important note: NOT saying something or not being upset, in my opinion is worse than being the guy or gal saying the bad stuff.
Secondly, the climate is toxic and not discussable anymore because people like this guy are being empowered. People with such extreme views have the right to express themselves. They should do so openly, as it is what makes America great. But we should not tolerate, support, or enrich people who take these views.
The Charlottesville rallies come to mind. Some extremists want to protest. I say, please proceed. Just don’t wear a mask or hide your face so when the news coverage begins, everyone can see who you really are and you can face the consequences.
These brands using “politics” as an excuse are turning a blind eye to the REAL problem. We are showing an increasingly great lack of empathy for our fellow man.
We chose these brands because their missions aligned with ours. They all claim to have a higher social responsibility - to their customers, to the community, to the planet. It’s clear to me that this is lip service; these brands are hypocrites.
What The World Needs Now…
Here’s a little list of what, in my humble opinion, the world needs right about now:
- More middle ground
- More open discussion
- Less "team-sports" mentality
- Less attention paid to crazy people. Shut them out, and let them shout into an empty room until they run out of breath.
- To stand up for each other.
- To have empathy for people that you have never met yet. Give the homeless guy that asks for change some change - whether or not he's going to buy booze. Stand up for someone who doesn't have clean water, even if they are thousands of miles away. Get upset if someone else doesn't have power after a storm.
- Don't let someone profit on outrageous lies.
Sorry for the downer of a rant. We just want to be 100% clear of where we are on the topic. We won’t sit idly by. It’s upsetting to me that the owners took those positions. The owners, and technically the employees who are aware of the situation, are complicit.
We’re clearing the shelves of these brands. Anything we can’t return will be on clearance. Any money made from the sale of the products from here on out will be donated to one of the Sandy Hook Charities. We will donate $50 to each victim’s charity. We ask that you check out those charities and make a small donation too.
Just trying to keep it real...
Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth