This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
“So you’re being told organic food is no more nutritious than conventional and it’s not worth your extra money. Well I’m here to say that it is worth the investment. Why do I say that? Pesticides.” –– Dr. Oz, Oct. 19, 2012
Less than two months after telling millions of TV viewers that organic food is “worth the investment,” America’s most popular TV doctor is singing a different tune. In the December issue of Time magazine, Dr. Oz described organic foodies as “elitist” – part of the 1% – and claimed that conventional foods are nutritionally equivalent to organic foods. According to 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.
Suddenly, the pesticides Dr. Oz was so concerned about a couple of months ago, the ones he warned viewers were “one of the greatest threats to your kids’ health,” no longer matter. What’s more, if you’re spending extra money to avoid them, you’re a food snob – instead of a responsible, health-conscious parent.
Dr. Oz’s flip-flop is just the latest in a series of highly-publicized mass media attacks on organic food and farming. It follows on the heels of a much-ballyhooed, controversial Stanford University study, released in September. The Stanford study concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional – and far less expensive – counterparts.
Ironically, it was this same study that Dr. Oz bashed on his October 19 television show for ignoring the obvious: Conventional food is loaded with toxic pesticides, which makes it not only less healthful, but downright dangerous. Especially for children.
At a time when the health of Americans is rapidly deteriorating – skyrocketing obesity, childhood diabetes, ever-increasing cases of asthma, allergies, autism, and cancer – there appears to be a concerted and insidious effort to smear organics, to convince consumers that there’s no connection between their poor health and the low-grade chemical food on their plates. Food routinely grown in nutrient-deficient soil, sprayed with toxic pesticides, pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, and genetically modified in Monsanto’s laboratories.
Instead, anti-organic forces are pushing the message that cheaper food is better for your wallet. And just fine for your health. Both the Stanford Study and Dr. Oz’s Time article focus on cost to consumers at the checkout counter. Neither addresses the long-term cost of poor health caused by toxic chemicals, or the long-term cost to the planet of chemical-intensive, climate-disruptive, unsustainable agricultural practices.
That Stanford study, which was highlighted by major media outlets including the New York Times, Associated Press, and CBS News, didn’t address pesticides and their proven link to health problems, especially in children. It didn’t address waterways polluted by tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The study was limited to fruits and vegetables, so it didn’t have to address the growing public health crisis of antibiotics and hormone residues in meat and dairy, nor the millions of annual food poisoning cases attributed to filthy meat and animal products coming out of the nation’s factory farm feedlots and slaughterhouses.
The Stanford study also completely ignored the horrendous damage to the environment by non-organic industrial farms and feedlots, including the devastating consequences to the planet of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions from chemical fertilizers and huge factory farm operations. Recent statistics indicate that the direct (greenhouse gas pollution) and indirect (tropical deforestation) impacts of industrial food and farms are the largest contributor to global warming.