1. Fresh spinach “sprouting from the soil an hour ago” is nutritionally little different than frozen spinach and this is valid for many other supermarket foods.
- The nutritional value of any produce decreases over time; if a food is frozen or shipped from far away, picked before it is ripe or sprayed with chemicals to make it look fresh and appealing, how can it be better than spinach picked fresh from your garden or a local farmer’s garden?
2. Produce from a farmer’s market “we’re told by any number of glossy cookbooks, TV cooking shows, food snobs and long-winded restaurant menus is how we’re supposed to eat”
- Forget food snobs, try my 97 year old grandmother living in the Dolomites of Northern Italy; eating fresh produce is not something the organic farming marketing machine has invented; it’s the way humans have eaten for centuries if not millennia.
3. “Organic food is great, it’s just not very democratic”
- If agribusiness paid for its many externalities (damage to soil through over-cultivation, impact of chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides and insecticides, etc.), “conventional” prices would reflect their true, much higher, cost and be at a comparable price level to organic food. Yes, organic food seems expensive, but if organic farmers would benefit from the same economies of scale, then prices would come down.
4. “A lot of the stuff we ate in childhood can be good for you and good to eat – if you know how to shop”.
- Agribusiness has significantly changed in the past 30 years with a higher market concentration, fewer farms, higher average sizes and much higher productivity levels (e.g,. up 82% between 1960 and 2000). The food you ate as a child was not processed. The food you ate as a child was more similar to the food you can buy in today’s farmer’s markets, not today’s supermarkets which carry products sourced directly from industrialized mono-crop farming all over the globe. By all means, yes, eat the food of your childhood.
5. “Fiber and nutrient content usually stay high in canned foods”
- Depending on harvest time and cooking method, nutrients can indeed remain intact, but it’s hard to tell what you’re really getting from reading the label; what’s more, recent studies have shown that BPA levels in canned foods, particularly canned tomatoes, are higher than is healthy for consumption over time as it disrupts normal endocrine function as well as produces changes in DNA structure.
6. “Canned foods are bargain foods”
- A bargain when you are buying them, but not when you are dealing with the health-related issues! A toxicology program performed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in 2008 found concern for effects on, among others, the brain, behavior and the prostate and mammary glands in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to BPA.
7. “There’s no question that free-range chickens and grass-fed, pasture-dwelling cows lead happier lives … than animals raised on factory farms”
- The less lucky cousins of these happy chickens and cows, stressed-out factory-raised animals, are also fed antibiotics to avoid infections, benadryl and other relaxants to avoid stressed (a.k.a. tough) meat and hormones to speed up the growing process, and many of these drugs are passed directly to the consumer in the meat or have the indirect consequence of making disease-causing organisms immune to antibiotics (i.e., antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a.k.a. superbugs). Dr. Oz, you might “not have the opportunity to eat a lot of meat at family meals” but, as a doctor, you can’t honestly tell us that you don’t care about what ends up in everybody else’s body! You ask, “If these things are important to you”! THEY SHOULD BE IMPORTANT TO YOU, AND TO EVERYONE. If you want to leave your grandchildren in a world that’s still worth living in, you need to stand up for healthy, well-raised, humanely-treated animals. See here what Consumer Reports has to say on the topic of overuse of antibiotics in food animals.
8. “Nutritionally, there is not much difference between, say, grass-fed beef and the variety”
- Blatantly false. From CNN: “A study by researchers at California State University in Chico examined three decades of research and found that beef from pasture-raised cows fits more closely into goals for a diet lower in saturated fat and higher in “good fats” and other beneficial nutrients.” This is because grass fed beef has a more balanced combination of omegas (3s, 6s and 9s), than feedlot-fed beef. As a heart surgeon, this fact alone should change your mind on feedlot beef.