Below is a great little video summarizing the quality chasm between Young Living and one of the most popular retail brands.
As you watch the other company’s presentation, keep in mind that it is putting the best foot forward. At one point you see a used plastic water bottle full of a tea-colored concoction the street vendors call patchouli oil. THAT bottle of patchouli oil is barely enough to cover the volume needed by a few stores let alone the thousands of storefronts through which the company retails.
Judging by standard practice in the industry with essential oils like lavender where French records show that 12.5 times more volume is exported than what is actually distilled (see Faking Lavender), it would not be at all surprising if that one plastic water bottle of patchouli is poured into a 55 gallon drum of petrochemicals to “stretch” the oil which is then put into thousands of little 15 ml bottles with nice labels that bare the meaningless marketing line “100% PURE PATCHOULI.”
Note that the video was made in 2013 and says that Young Living has six farms. As of 2015, there are actually over a dozen Young Living farms all over the world.
Also note that Young Living understands the difference between a partnership that supports and builds-up a small farm community in a way that promotes ever-improving oil quality verses pitting a bunch of subsistence farmers against each other competing on price in the open market.
What’s the difference?
The other company shows footage of a mountain-side patchouli farm it finds after 12 hours of driving in the rain. Is there anything special about this particular farm? We don’t know. But apparently there is no specific relationship to the farm other than it makes a nice backdrop to give the impression of authenticity and to provide credibility as to the expertise of the narrator and the brand. For all we know, the patchouli crop in the background may be reserved for another company. Or it may be sprayed with Round-up. And what are the soil conditions? Does the farmer continually add compost to build the soil or is he simply exploiting the mountainside and sucking as much life as possible out of the soil while it lasts? None of this seems to matter to the “expert.” He simply wants viewers to THINK it matters because he traveled 12 hours to get the footage.
What we DO know is that the expert goes back down the mountain to the city and seems content to get a concoction in a used plastic water bottle from just about anyone on the street. And he takes their word that it is actually what they say it is. This creates a competitive environment among the small farmers were the lowest price is the driving priority. So the farmers are encouraged to cut whatever corners possible to fill plastic water bottles with ANY cheap, tea-colored substance that smells similar to and mixes well with patchouli oil.
Compare to farms with which Young Living has partnered. A synergistic relationship is developed with one farmer that continually demonstrates his integrity. Young Living will bring finances to help turn the facility and distillery into a world-class operation. And it will bring expertise and best-practices to help the farmer continually improve the quality of the seeds, soil, plants, and, ultimately, the essential oil produced. It will bring 20 years of records on the best weather, barometric pressures, times of month, times of day, and Brix levels to determine the optimal harvest time for producing oil with the most therapeutic compounds. Young Living will work with the farmer to discover the ideal time to allow the harvested plant material to “breath” before putting it in the distiller. And the farmer will always strive for optimum distilling times, pressures, and temperatures that create the most therapeutic value, NOT THE HIGHEST VOLUME. The farmer will be taught how to constantly test for this optimum therapeutic value so he can continually improve the system on-the-fly with every distillation.
Ultimately, a sample from each batch of oil will be sent to the Young Living testing laboratory to see if it meets their standards. If so, samples may be sent to third-party labs for verification. If the batch of oil meets Young Living standards—the highest in the industry—Young Living will reward that farmer with a handsome sum for that batch. Young Living does this because it understands the value and rarity of that oil and its sharp customers place a premium on quality rather than price and marketing hype.