The Cornucopia Institute
The Time cover story from 12/3/12 on "What to Eat Now" by Dr. Mehmet Oz is available:
The full story is available to Time subscribers only. Excerpts from the article, with Cornucopia's responses:
Dr. Oz: "Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between the farmer's-market bounty and the humble brick from the freezer case."
Cornucopia response: Dr. Oz compares conventional and organic foods throughout the article by focusing exclusively on the differences between a handful of nutrients. This is exactly what the agrochemical and conventional farming industries, and their front group, the Alliance for Food and Farming, would like the American public to focus on. Just two months ago, Dr. Oz told the viewers of his syndicated television show to buy organic vegetables to avoid pesticide residues. Now, in his copywritten Time story, the word "pesticide" or "agricultural chemical" is never mentioned.
Dr. Oz: "Dispelling these myths--that boutique foods are good, supermarket foods are suspect and you have to spend a lot to eat well--is critical to improving our nation's health. Organic food is great, it's just not very democratic."
Cornucopia response: What can be more democratic than consumers voting with their food dollars to support organic farmers who protect our environment and our health by eschewing harmful and polluting agrochemicals?
Even if there were no direct benefit to our families (plenty of published scientific research indicates there is), when we choose organic food we are protecting farmers and farmworkers from exposure to toxic chemicals. Many farmers, farmworkers and their children have elevated levels of certain cancers and chronic diseases.
Dr. Oz: "The rise of foodie culture over the past decade has venerated all things small-batch, local-farm and organic--all with premium price tags. But let's be clear: you don't need to eat like the 1% to eat healthily."
Cornucopia response : Organic foods are not for the "1%." Organic foods are for everybody, and are accessible and affordable to most families who prioritize their expenses. Many organic consumers forgo other "luxuries," whether it be iPhones, vacations, new cars -- all of which are advertised in the same Time magazine where Dr. Oz's article appears -- in order to be able to afford organic foods to protect their family's health. These decisions should be applauded, not turned into a character flaw.
Dr. Oz: "After several years of research and experience, I have come to an encouraging conclusion: the American food supply is abundant, nutritionally sound, affordable and, with a few simple considerations, comparable to the most elite organic diets. Save the cash; the 99% diet can be good for you."
Cornucopia response : Dr. Oz's research apparently missed the countless studies showing that organic foods are nutritionally superior, lower in pesticide residues, lower in antibiotic-resistant pathogen contamination, etc. In addition to being published in peer-reviewed journals, testing by independent sources such as Consumer Reports (Consumer Union) and government agencies such as the USDA corroborate these findings.
Dr. Oz: "I consider it a public-health service to the consumer who has to feed a family of five or the person who wants to make all the right choices and instead is alienated and dejected because the marketing of healthy foods too often blurs into elitism, with all the expense and culinary affectation that implies."
Cornucopia response: The added expense of buying organic foods is an investment in health. In the interest of public health, Dr. Oz should have mentioned the pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, synthetic preservatives, artificial dyes and sweeteners, and other harmful inputs used in conventional farming and food production. Comparing nutrients is just one aspect of a cost-benefit analysis. Dr. Oz owes his loyal fans, who respect his judgment, a more thoughtful and nuanced analysis.
Dr. Oz: "There's no question that free-range chickens and grass-fed, pasture-dwelling cows lead happier--if not appreciably longer--lives than animals raised on factory farms. They are also kept free of hormones and antibiotics and are less likely to carry communicable bacteria like E. coli, which are common on crowded feedlots. If these things are important to you and you have the money to spend, then by all means opt for pricier organic meats."