This is the third part of what was supposed to be a two part post. I feel that this third section is important because it gets to the very core of what, in my mind, the O.O.C.C. should be about and if you are going to participate, what your business should be about. Not for one minute is anyone going to accuse me of being starry eyed or idealistic, but, to me, the whole point of this exercise is to produce good oil marketed in a bottle that tells the truth about the contents. It is a pretty straightforward concept and the intent is to assure the consumer they are getting what they expect to get when they buy a Californian oil and for producers to hopefully avoid the pitfalls other countries’ producers have fallen into.
I already espoused my views on the greed element in the previous post. To recap, certain parties are prepared to jeopardize all of the progress made over 20+ years to distinguish Californian oil as a superior product with truth in labeling in order to make a few extra bucks in a slow year, while for others defrauding customers is just the modus operandi. But what is even more alarming to me was the concern about lawsuits during the discussions.
The discussion around which verbiage to use to address what had to be the content of a bottle of oil with the words “California” and “olive oil” on it was quickly reduced to a discussion of lawsuits. The language that was ultimately chosen was selected because it had the least likelihood of creating a lawsuit. How absurd is it that this is the concern? I wonder how proud one can be of their company knowing that they can continue to mislead customers because the threat of a lawsuit allows them to?
We then discussed adding verbiage to say that, if your brand name had a place name in California in it, it had to have Californian oil in it. This immediately sent up red flags and clearly several attendees had already looked into this with lawyers. It was roundly agreed that this would result immediately in a lawsuit. Imagine, your brand name is San Francisco’s Best Olive Oil (this is intended to be a hypothetical name and if there is actually a company with that name, this is in no way related to them) and you’re filling those bottles with low quality oil from, say Syria, and to boot, you have the nerve to threaten a law suit because Californian producers think you’re misleading in your labeling. I’ll bet that’s someone who takes great pride in their business.
Why is this so hard? Why is it that so many people or companies feel that not only they need to cheat to succeed, but they have to be able to threaten a lawsuit to continue doing it. Moreover, how screwed up is our system that it perpetuates this behavior? Just say what you’re selling. It should be either a good product people are willing to pay a premium for, a good buy that people will want because it is a bargain, or it is somewhere in between and people view it as a good compromise. Based on what I see out there and not just in the olive oil world, maybe I am an idealist. Greed seems to have taken priority over honesty and hard work.
April 3, 2019