Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dr. Bronner's controversy

I first discovered Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap over 10 years ago, when it was only available in health food stores and organic co-ops. It has since gone mainstream and I just bought a quart bottle of 18-in-1 Hemp Lavender Pure-Castile Soap at Walgreen's. In addition to being a great read (nearly every bit of space on bottle delineates in repetitive detail Dr. Bronner's All-One philosophy), the soap is one of the most ecological and dermatologically friendly products out there. While it is true the original Dr. Bronner escaped from a mental hospital and is a counterculture hero/nutball, he comes from a long family tradition of soapmakers. And since his death, the company he brought to America has kept its leftist edge and unique label.

As I showcased in a previous blog post , there is a documentary about the man, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox, and apparently Dr. Bronner, who died in 1997, sounds as nutty as the text on his soap.

It is rare to see such wackiness attached to a popular consumer good. I can think of no other mainstream product that is as "out there" as Dr. Bronner's soap. It goes against everything that consumer culture says should work in advertising. Most products take a bland middle road and are not involved in politics or activism of any sort. Or, if they are, they do half-assed "fundraising" efforts for popular charities.

It gets even weirder. In 2007 a drummer in a punk rock band was arrested in California because his Dr. Bronner's soap tested positive for an illegal date rape drug, GHB, using a the NarcoPouch® 928 field drug tests. But as the following video shows, all natural soaps, as opposed to detergent-based soaps, will test positive using the Narcopouch kit.

Check out the Dr. Bronner web site . In addition to having all the products for sale, there are links and articles related to the lax rules about organic labeling in the cosmetics industry. It's nice to buy a product that is not only the best of its kind, has a bona-fide crazy behind its creation, but is also good for the environment and socially conscious as well.

Still, I wouldn't recommend brushing your teeth with the stuff.

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