"Saying all hydroponics growers grow pot is just like saying all priests molest children."
I'm going to remember that one. Though it's really those times where your enthusiastically talking about growing tomatoes, strawberries etc., and they finally realize your actually talking about growing tomatoes (not pot). That blank look/stare on their face says what their thinking. That were not talking about growing the same thing after all. I think everybody here in this forum experiences the same thing regularly. I couldn't care less if they grow pot, but I wish they would try growing something eles too. Anyhow I believe perception's about hydroponics will change. I know of one hydroponic grower in my town who grows produce, but only one so far.
I agree with your plan and reasoning on competing with soil growers. That could get the foot in the door and interest new hydroponic growers as well. That would be a very good plan to get more people interested in hydroponics, and go a long way to help change the perception of hydroponics.