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Is “Balance of Nature” a Fraud?

If you watch any television at all, you probably have seen ads for this company which calls itself “Balance of Nature.” You may have seen a hundred of them, because they appear to show up every half hour.

I realize that commercials are in general becoming even more prevalent, and of course there is nothing to do about them. I mute almost all of them, but I have heard these Balance of Nature ones more than a few times, as I am intrigued by them, but not because I have any intention of buying what they are selling, whatever it is. I have this feeling that the public is witnessing a big-time scam, and that they are clever enough to get away with it, and make tens of millions of dollars before they go away. They could go to jail for fraud, but that doesn’t happen very often.

If you have not seen the commercials, they are selling what seem to be vitamin pills, although they would call them organic supplements. They are capsules in bottles .One is titled “Fruits,’ the other, “Veggies.” How professional. The first I saw of this was someone who was captioned “Victor,” who said he was a dietician, but that he often got so busy that he forgot to eat his “fruits and veggies”. So he took the capsules, and he immediately saw a remarkable increase in his energy level.

Victor has been succeeded by several other purported real people who give testimonials. Every one of them says that Balance of Nature has increased their energy levels and capability, after taking the capsules for a few weeks, or a couple of months. One of them did a handstand to illustrate how effective they were.

Every one of the people, except for one, seems to be about 60-70 in age. Interestingly, they all speak with rather scratchy voices, Some older people do have that, but all of these do. Even the one woman touting the product, who looks mid-40’s or so, has a rather scratchy voice. This made me wonder if there is some voice effect being used by the maker of the commercials.

Ostensibly–and I use that word because they manage to say very little about the product–Balance of Nature, which is the name of the company, obtains the best fruits and vegetables, and makes capsules which contain the vitamins in them. They show a large field of some plants, and the adman’s voice says that they look all over to get the very best ones. How they do that is not shown or explained, except for the pictures of the fields.

So they take the very best fruits and vegetables, and they mash them up and make capsules of them which come in bottles. And these various people with scratchy voices say that they have made a great difference in their energy level and general health.

I eat a lot of fruit, and always have. I am not as assiduous with vegetables, though I try. In a usual summer, I might have something like four peaches and four plums a day, perhaps a few apricots, and cherries up through June when the season is over. I also like seedless grapes, melons, and I love olallieberries and boysenberries. I eat fruit because it is fresh, natural, often delicious, and I know that it is nutritional. I don’t think that they give me much more energy and productivity, but I am sure that they help.

I do not think that taking vitamin pills claimed to be the products of the very best fruits and vegetables, is nearly as worthwhile. I do not purport to be a nutritionist, but I think that much of the value of fruit is the entire fruit; the skin, the pulp, the juice, all of which you get when you eat a whole peach, or plum, or apple, or orange. And they do help to assuage hunger, which vitamins do not.

I am not saying that people cannot benefit from vitamins, particularly if they have a deficiency of a particular vitamin. I do think that eating whole fruits and vegetables is more nutritional than the vitamins. This is particularly true when we do not have any idea how Balance of Nature finds “the best ones,” makes deals to buy them, and then does some kind of thing which makes vitamin tablets which are claimed to contain all the best parts of the fruits and veggies.

I will say that in California, which I like to term “the fruit basket of the world,” there are farming problems. There was not enough water. Global warming is the greatest cause, and it has ruined some farms, and caused others to wonder how much longer they can continue. A woman who with her sons runs a small farm which had some of the greatest peaches you can imagine, had to cut down most of those yellow peach trees, because they had had suffered from lack of water. She understandably was so upset with this, that she will scarcely talk about it.

I miss those peaches, and there are fewer and fewer small farms which can keep going. The farmers also complain about he state government diverting water to support a particular type of fish, and reducing the farms’ water supply. I am very much in favor of helping all animals and birds and fishes, but I would also want to support trees and bushes of all sorts, and particularly those which bear fruit. This is apparently an ongoing problem in this state. And yes, there are a few “big agra” farms, but you can absolutely taste the difference between their crops and those which grow on the lovingly cultivated farms. And we don’t know how much those ‘frankenfoods” are created by injecting harmful drugs into them.

That is another story, but I bring it up here because it seems very unlikely to me that in this literal and figurative climate, Balance of Nature has gained access to “the very best fruits and vegetables,” from which they can make their vitamin pills.

This whole thing seems to be some kind of scam, or at the least, wildly exaggerated advertising. I tried to read more about this company. There are some sites which they apparently advertise with, or run, which say positive things with no detail at all. One of them lists: “Established in 1997.” “A doctor developed it.” “Products dependent on scientific research.” “Located in St. George, Utah.”

Who is the doctor? It is Dr. Douglas Howard, who is a chiropractor. He has some kind of degree from a chiropractic college, and then a few other purported degrees from foreign schools, which I will bet he purchased online. He did start this company, at least the brand name, in 1997. He apparently lectured about health issues, which many people do, you can hear them on the radio on weekends, literally trying to sell fish oil pills or other such things. Maybe some of them work, maybe not, but you wouldn’t want to take their word for it.

I can find nothing which describes how chiropractor Howard developed the capacity to find the best fruits and vegetables to put into his pills. I can find nothing which lists the nutritional science background of Howard, or any of his staff. I admittedly did not work that hard to do so; maybe you can find it. I did look up some reviews of the product, ostensibly coming from regular folks, though one has to always be wary. I will quote some of the more interesting ones, for your information.

“Extremely poor customer service. Giving us the runaround. Unable to reach a person to get a refund, they placed us on autoship when that was never requested. After two months of trying to resolve their wrong charges, I had to contact my bank to get a resolution! Never buy from this company!!!!”

“I started a subscription two months ago. After taking the fruit and veggie supplements, my blood pressure went way up. So I stopped taking them for a couple of weeks. Tried again just taking one capsule three times a day at meal times Again my blood pressure went way up, so I stopped taking the vitamins. Called customer support several times and could never get an answer. Left message, but no one called me back! Tried to go online to their website, but it was down. Now they’ve shipped another month supply that I can’t use, and they won’t refund my money. Terrible customer service! Products were bad for me.”

“Everyone should realize that the ‘spokesperson’ is cleverly implying that he is a doctor. Listen carefully and you will realize that you have been fooled.”

“Horrible customer service and the product doesn’t work….These guys are the biggest scams, and the money goes to advertising, not the product.”

“All reliable research has shown the product to be a total scam.”

“When the spokespersons are an optometrist, a chiropractor, and Vincent, the dietician who forgets to eat, you know it’s a scam.”

There are more, of course. There are even some positive ones, but I am inclined not to believe them, they read like ads. Maybe some people are helped by this, or want to think they are; but I read comments from people who said that their potassium levels went very high, or their blood pressure went up, or that the capsules are very difficult to swallow. My sense is that it is a total fraud. “Dr. Howard” found someone who can make tablets, and some clever marketers, and has enough money, or someone has backed him, so to be able to flood the airwaves with his ads.

This all bothers me for several reason/ First, I hate the ads. More importantly, they are bilking people, and maybe damaging their health. And the owner is probably making several million dollars, after which he will probably disappear. Less likely, complaints will be filed, and some settlement will be reached short of trial.

I don’t know much about the FDA or FTC rules regarding such things. There are probably all sorts of bogus pills being sold. It seems that the degree of fraud required for a private company to be criminally charged, is quite high. All they have to say is that they put some mashed up “veggies” and fruit in their capsules, and that the claims of results come from various other people. This is a fairly time-dishonored way to avoid criminal penalties for selling products which don’t do what the advertising claims. This didn’t go away after the hucksters at country fairs with their shills, pretended that this bottle of colored water would grow your hair back, and provide sexual potency. This is just another high-tech media version of it.

Do I wish I could have come up with something like this, to have made perhaps tens of millions of dollars? No, because I would never do it. But I do very much hope that those people who callously try to bilk others are exposed for their misrepresentations and scams.