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It’s only natural that Freya Brier would spend a lot of time in a Wild Oats store. She’s the GC as well as the executive in charge of real estate for the $1 billion a year, 112-store natural food chain. But there’s a pretty good chance that she wouldn’t just be checking on employee time sheets. A self-described “ardent customer,” she’d be shopping there, too. Brier joined Boulder-based Wild Oats in 1996 after spending four years consulting for such biotech companies as Amgen Inc. Before then, she worked at Denver’s Holme Roberts & Owen. The position at Wild Oats not only intrigued her because of the wide range of issues involved, but also because she’d get a voice in running the company. Here’s what Brier told Corporate Counsel about her job: How did you get your position? I was a consultant for Amgen here in Boulder, doing litigation management and development work for a new facility. They offered me a [full-time] job. At the same time I got a call from Wells Fargo, which was Wild Oats’s bank. They told me Wild Oats was looking for a lawyer with securities experience because they were going public. Amgen to Wild Oats, biotech to organic food . . . Yeah, high-tech to no-tech. You wear a few different hats. How much time to you spend lawyering? Right now it’s not representative, because I lost my real estate guy a couple of months ago. So I spend 25 percent or less [time] on legal matters right now. I review all of our big litigation, and in my role as chief ethics officer, I review all the anonymous complaints we get [from customers, employees, etc.]. We have some of the most interesting and strange legal problems. When I first came on board, I had to get involved in a suit that was brought by a customer who got into a food fight with a deli clerk at one of the stores. What’s the main difference between working at at firm and working at Wild Oats in-house? I don’t have to wear panty hose every day to the office. Seriously, there’s a definitive end product that has my name on it. I can walk into a store and say, “I had a part in this.” It’s very gratifying to see people enjoying the store. And when things aren’t exactly right, we can go back and tweak it. I go out with the executive team several times a year, and we hit as many stores in a week as we can to meet the people, to taste the products, to walk the stores and see how the operational side of things is going. It’s always surprising to see the demand for organic food, especially in places where you don’t expect it. Are there cities or communities that are especially enthusiastic about organic food? Boulder is one of those towns. When you run our forecasting model, it shows the areas where the higher-demand consumers live in pink and red tones. Boulder is all pink. Northern California has a huge pink population. Are there any lifestyle advantages to being in Boulder? I can bike to work! Wild Oats literature says that all your products are “certified organic.” What does that mean? In 2000, the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] passed regulations defining what organic meant with the National Organic Standards Program. Under that regulatory framework, an independent third-party auditor goes out and evaluates the growing methods, the production methods, the packaging methods, and they have to certify that the product meets USDA standards for organic. Do you eat organic? I do. In fact, I’m sitting here with my Stonyfield Farm Luscious Lemon yogurt.

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