What is the Value of Your Values?

I just got off the phone with a company claiming to work with PBS Biography, a show I have watched since I was a little kid (that's how I learned about the great figures of history when I was young). They called to say they were interested in doing a spot on me and Dean's Beans. I was honored, but I have been here before. So I bluntly asked what it would cost me. They said the same $22,000 "production fee" that they would charge George Bush or anyone else they were working on. I told them that $22,000 would go a lot further doing development work in farming villages or even keeping our prices down here at home. Also, to me, if we are doing something newsworthy, I still believe that newsworthy outfits, be they blogs or national newspapers, will pick it up and report it. We don't pay to play.

I need to clarify that it was actually NOT PBS calling me. Apparently, a small industry has developed of production companies that claim to work with PBS, NBC and others, but who really don't. They get people like me to sign on, they produce a three minute DVD, send it to PBS etc so that they can say it was "distributed" to PBS. Then you get a copy, which most of us would put on our website proudly, especially as it bears a PBS logo on it. So it looks like it was made for and shown on PBS when in fact neither happens. PBS gets hit so often by this that that have a FAQ on their website about this, even naming the companies that do it.

This is not the first time this has happened around here, but it is happening with greater frequency. We were approached by Visionaries, another series. That one was $40,000 We have been hit on by a ton of food shows who would feature us if we wanted to pay to play. Similarly, we were awarded the National Republican Council Small Businessman of the Year Award and the Ronald Reagan Gold Medal for Business Freedom several years ago on the promise that we would be big contributors to their cause (I did send $25 as it also got me an invitation to the Inauguration Dinner with then President Bush - if I was willing to fork over an additional $4,000-no dessert at that price - I still have the invitation, which is a pretty cool memento).

More problematic for me are the number of times we have been approached for Green Awards from organizations that want to recognize our achievements in sustainability. Several prominent new organizations supposedly dedicated to sustainability have offered to consider us for an award - for a fee. Even the august United Nations Global Compact, with whom I have worked for about five years, recently offered to put me on a board of top world thought leaders in sustainability - for another $20,000.

I know I might be naive to think in the current ethical climate that recognition for good works should be based on the works themselves, not on the ability of the person or organization to pay. Just call me old fashioned. This may sound gooey or trite, but I really do get my greatest satisfaction and recognition from you, dear customers, the farmers around the world and my own loving family.

By the way, the Colombian is back in stock!

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