5 Unhealthy Foods Advocated by the Mainstream Media. ~ Mehdi Comeau

Via on Dec 23, 2012

I 'm starting to crack

Take responsibility for your own health.

People wonder why ill-health, obesity and death rates are high in the U.S., while local businesses struggle against corporate giants. Maybe it’s because those in power are misguiding us. It appears the mainstream media is full of blatant fibbers.

Does this seem backwards to you: advising a healthy diet by encouraging the public to purchase food products detrimental to their health, fueling a scandalous health care system that strips people’s income—which could have otherwise been spent on actual healthy food preventing disease—while encouraging the public to support corporate giants rather than local businesses and farmers’ markets? Let’s not forget the detrimental environmental impact of industrial and conventional animal farming and food production methods.

I’d say that scenario has its shirt on its legs.

Yet, despite honest farmers and businesses competing with mega-corporations and a food industry fueling a health-suffering population, this is the advice to which we are exposed.

A rousing example comes from the December 3, 2012 issue of TIME magazine. The cover displays colorful block images of frozen fruits and vegetables featuring the cover story title, What To Eat Now: The Anti-Food-Snob Diet by Dr. Mehmet Oz. He is widely accredited and dispersed throughout mainstream media, even having his own show.

Taking an outrageous leap, he says that shopping at a farmers’ market is marked by elitism enjoyed by the one percent, advising a healthy 99 percent diet composed of disease-contributing substances. Purporting nutritional falsehoods to a trusting national audience that may not know better is not acceptable. They take us for a population of credulity.

As Dr. Oz takes readers through a tour of the supermarket, he notes “a fair amount of label reading” will be done. Later in the article he states, “Nutritionally, there is not much difference between, say, grass-fed beef and the feedlot variety. The calories, sodium and protein content are all very close.” These numbers are surface statistics used wisely through glib narrative. Industrial feedlot beef is raised from genetically-modified grain in horrid conditions producing beef that studies prove to be nutritionally inferior to free-range beef, while proving detrimental to the environment.

We need to be savvy beyond mere calorie, protein, carbohydrate and sodium measures. We cannot trust labels. For instance, the USDA and FDA mandated all U.S. almonds be pasteurized, yet permit labeling them as raw.

From his full-page diagram comparing select supermarket items to their gourmet market counterparts, let’s explore the pitfalls of this nutritional analysis by examining five foods he recommends buying conventional over organic:

1. Milk.

His opinion that “the absence of hormones and antibiotics can be important, but organic, family-farm milk is not nutritionally better” because cheap conventional milk has calcium, vitamin D, eight grams of protein and 110 calories in the low-fat version is complete nonsense. Organic milk is superior for health. Dairy is one of the most important items you should buy organic. The chemicals, hormones and antibiotics in conventional milk are present at dangerous levels that add significantly to antibiotic resistance and an array of deteriorating health issues. Furthermore, low-fat dairy is improperly balanced for bodily absorption. Homogenization, to give one example of its effects, creates small, uniform fat molecules that bypass digestion, carrying substances into the bloodstream and pasteurization voids many hidden benefits. Raw milk advocates have their place, and other countries aren’t so adverse; you can buy raw milk in vending machines in Europe.

2. Eggs.

Buy local, pastured and/or organic eggs. The price difference isn’t extreme and it’s certainly worth it. Conventional eggs come from chickens raised in grimy, disease ridden, over-populated quarters where surviving chickens live in feces and eat antibiotics and hormones that get passed onto their eggs—much like the factory-farmed cattle that produce conventional milk. Nevertheless, Dr. Oz says that “nutritionally, an egg is an egg. Cage-free is kinder but much pricier,” and that conventional provide “a good source of protein, choline and vitamin B–and a bargain.” My friends, an egg is not an egg.

3. Peanut butter.

Referring to organic peanut butter, Dr. Oz says “the heftier price gets you a glass jar, but nutrition-wise, you’re not buying much more except a few extra calories.” You get more than a glass jar. Organic peanut butter generally has but two ingredients: peanuts grown without chemicals and salt. Sometimes even without the salt. Conventional, on the other hand, comes with a slew of ingredients, including hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated (poor quality oils that are bad on their own, but once processed become potent health saboteurs), sugar (an unnecessary and unhealthy additive) and unlisted dangerous chemical residues from conventional agriculture. Also, peanuts are legumes called groundnuts around the world because they grow in the ground, where they are susceptible to aflatoxin, a health-threatening and carcinogenic mold. You should be careful with all peanut butter. Valencia peanuts are your safest choice. They grow in dry climates and are generally free of mold. Organic peanut butter is also the least expensive nut butter.

4. Honey.

Although Dr. Oz claims the real stuff is “pricier but calorically and nutritionally the same,” it’s far from it. Industrial, pasteurized honey is void of nearly all nutritional benefits, while pure honey—especially raw and local—are health powerhouses that give honey its solid reputation for a gamut of healing properties. It is a sweetener, and like anything, don’t overdo it, but if you’re going to use honey, go real and go raw.

5. Olive oil.

Noting that industrial processes use more chemicals to extract mass-market oils, Dr. Oz advises it is all heart healthy and mostly good fat, while organic extra virgin has “no nutritional edge” and a taste difference noticed “mostly by foodies.” The chemicals and processes used to extract conventional oils are, however, indeed risky to our health. Tom Mueller’s book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, reveals that many olive oils are cut with cheaper oils. In order to get real olive oil and reap the real benefits, go organic.

These are the top five, but it’s not an all inclusive list. Dr. Oz also advises buying cheap Hershey’s dark chocolate over organic, fair-trade. Industrial chocolate is unadvisable in regards to your health and is made with poor, unnecessary ingredients. In my opinion, it also tastes worse.

Photos of winning foods including peanut butter, canned tuna, olive oil and milk are sporting the Stop and Shop logo. It’s no wonder who is promoting this widespread fictional report.  Please don’t believe the hype. Take responsibility for your own health.

Spending a little extra on quality products and supporting honest companies will result in robust health and a robust economy.

Supporting giant corporations who pack and process food using the cheapest ingredients and lowest standards only provides you with non-nutritive food substances that lead to poor health and hefty medical bills. It’s a monopolized industry stripping real food from the shelves and taking business from honest people.

We are not the dumb, docile populous Dr. Oz and the powers he sold out to evidently think we are. This is an outright sham pitted against everything honest, sustainable and healthy for which the organic movement stands. If you’re pursuing health, try a more holistic approach.

Do what’s best, do what’s right.

 

Bio-White HorseA flat-capped nomad, Mehdi Comeau enjoys adventuring, discovering and musing on people and life. As a keenly curious enviro-gastronome, it’s in his nature to pursue perpetual learning and growth, be outdoors, active and create crafty kitchen concoctions, while tuning in and allowing life’s clues to guide. When he’s not engaged elsewhere, you’ll often find him writing with a green blend at his side. He likes the motto: everything in moderation and full appreciation. You can read a growing collection of his musings on his blog, SolsticeSon’s Celebrational Servings.

~

Ed: Amy Cushing

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32 Responses to “5 Unhealthy Foods Advocated by the Mainstream Media. ~ Mehdi Comeau”

  1. steve says:

    this article reminds me of the main stream media. using fear to get readers. shame on you

    • SolsticeSon says:

      Hi, Steve. Using scare tactics to attract readers was never on my mind, although now I'm able to see from your viewpoint–thanks for widening my perspective. My intent was to share disbelief and reveal truth from a moral standing, for the betterment of all.

      • Kristin says:

        I think it makes sense…all of Dr. Oz's 'insights' seem to be drawn directly from the labels he was reading…noting that the things the FDA deems measurable and important to our health and well being are all that we need to consider. Thank you for pointing out that if we take a few steps back…there is a lot more to consider.

  2. Steve says:

    Im sure your intentions were good . Perhaps i was too harsh

  3. Guest says:

    I agree 100% with this post. I really could not believe what I was reading in TIME when the issue came out and then I saw Dr. Oz on the Today Show reaching more people with "99% diet." Eating healthy is elitist? Ridiculous!

  4. Gita says:

    Although I agree with the article over all, the truth is many cannot afford the price tag of the healthier foods. I work with those on government assistance and paying that price for better food is not realistic. In my opinion the whole system hurts those without, if you are one with means its good to remember that.

    • Kristin says:

      I have been on public assistance a few times, myself and my family (kids/husband) and when I focused the money on buying quality meat, and started planting/growing organic vegetables myself we did really well. Buying the higher "good quality" calorie items can make a world of difference…NOT paying attention to the healthiest options can keep people needing this assistance too because of the ill effects of not taking what we eat/what we are made of seriously lead to more medical issues which are WAY more expensive than the higher quality food items. (I am diagnosed with a MS and had a stroke at 18, and feel strongly that my health dramatically changed for the better when I stopped eating packaged anything.

  5. koskun says:

    If the author's claims are true, I applaud him for taking on a potentially destructive mainstream message (and taking the initiative to write about it). However, inasmuch as some of the author's claims may be true, he does not offer any citations or sources for his claims (or even a relevant educational background). The article reads more as opinion that a series of counter-arguments based on research. If, for example, the inorganic version is equal in nutrition (or nearly equal) to the organic, yet the inorganic version is exceptionally deleterious to the environment, then that is the argument that should be made. The author's apparently unfounded bias seems to discredit the entire piece. In my opinion, this is a problem that we have with many voices on the 'green' side of the fence who are used to preaching to the choir and not being challenged. As an environmental scientist, I have seen first-hand how destructive false claims, Chicken Little sensationalism, and misinformation have been to the environmental cause. From global warming to vaccines, please don't publish it as research if it's not based on research from valid sources. Citing professional opinion or even 'grey literature' is perfectly acceptable

    • lee says:

      Excellent piece! Felt exactly the same way..There is a definite elitist attitude that encircles the foodies, co-op ers and farmers market regulars. Even if much of their "speaks" are true…being in the presence of "THE ONLY WAY"…is a turn off.

  6. kosokun says:

    PS. I'm not calling out the author specifically. I've seen voluminous articles on EJ (and elsewhere) that were opinion presented as fact. Please consider that we may be doing more harm than good by misleading the public.

  7. raven says:

    The article brings up great points that all make sense if you've done even a tiny bit of research. But what is still missing is the the environmental impact of factory farms and the moral question of the torturing of millions of animals we call food. I understand how difficult it is to buy the often more expensive healthier, environmentally safer food, and ethically and sustainably raised animals, but we still need to bring these false claims out in the public eye. Dr. Oz is most likely a puppet for agribusiness – there's some uncovering to be done there. We need to continue a healthy dialogue on how to grow food that doesn't destroy the environment, doesn't compromise our health, and doesn't torture animals, and at the same time can be affordable by anyone. After all, where will we get our food after all the soil and water and air is so toxic we barely can survive? As awareness is raised more and more people will not want to contribute a dime to corporations that rape and pillage the environment nor will we want to eat tortured food (animals)

    • SolsticeSon says:

      Thanks, raven, the environmental impacts and moral issues are no doubt of high concern and merit an article dedicated to them. With this article I only touched on these issues, while focusing on the nutritional/health aspects because that was the basis of Dr. Oz's claims. Thanks again for highlighting their importance, which all ties in synergistically to the woes of industrial food.

  8. Jacquie17 says:

    Thank you for this excellent and accurate article. I have to admit you scared me for a second with the photo of the eggs…I thought you were just going to go all out and declare that all eggs are bad for us. As far as koskun's comment: I have completed a holistic nutrition program as well as a science degree and continue to educate myself via articles and books, including material with scientific and research-based information. While I don't have any references handy, rest assured that the research does exist to back up these claims. It shouldn't be difficult to find them if you really want to. This author is not expressing "unfounded bias." I'm wondering what articles you are referring to in EJ that have unsupported claims presented as facts? I'm usually pretty good at noticing something like that and I can't recall reading anything like that. Also, I haven't noticed any articles in EJ with citations.

  9. Kevin says:

    A whole lot of telling and very little showing — back up your statements, please.

    • SolsticeSon says:

      Thank you Kevin, koskun and all that agree there should be more substantial credentials to my words–I'm happy that you are questioning what's presented, as so much media is full of holes and deceit. I do mean well, and have researched these topics. As far as my credibility goes, I have studied nutrition and hold a degree in environmental studies. Also, Jacquie17, who has completed holistic nutrition and science programs attests to the information presented. Nevertheless, as EJ isn't a place to publish academic papers, there are no citations and sources, rather just links to supporting information–you'll find them in relevant highlighted text. While one could find links online to support nearly any point, they should do some justice. Please look into the issues further if you have concerns. I hope all can find evidence enough to shift consciousness toward healthier individuals, economy, environment and residual benefits. Thanks for reading.

      • Kosokun says:

        Great, non-defensive response SolsticeSon! I really appreciate you taking my comment in the best light. Regarding Raven's response above: THE root cause for most of these issues (besides profit for companies) is over-population. It's unfortunate that the topic seems to be political taboo…

      • Kevin says:

        Thanks for the reply.

  10. Miranda says:

    Great post, Mehdi! People- if he got any more in depth on this topic we would be here for hours. I think creating awareness so that you can take it to the next level personally is perfect. Your food labels are there for a reason, READ THEM!!

    • SolsticeSon says:

      Thanks Miranda! Glad you enjoyed and appreciate raising awareness to spark personal questions and research.

  11. Shana says:

    Dr. Oz, what a shame. People actually trust what he says and take him for some kind of health expert. I am really shocked how many people blindly follow and support him. Glad you pointed out some his fallacies in your article.

  12. Tracy says:

    This is exactly why I personally became disenchanted with Dr. Oz. I think overall he's lovely and does a service, and I understand him wanting to appeal to the widest base so that he can help the most people. But come on…….his suggestions about food are almost always wrong. The first time I heard what he said about organic vs. non, I thought I was imagining it or that he had become a spokesperson for Monsanto. I just have to remind myself that everyone can't know everything.

  13. RationalThinker says:

    Taking a step back for a moment, let's look at this from a different angle. Likely, the masses that would read the Dr. Oz piece, and follow his advice, are NOT the folks that would take the time to research these things. I, for one, feel that if his statements about these things gets even ONE family to switch from nutrient bankrupt processed foods, to incorporating more whole foods in their diets, then let him preach his half truths. If it gets people on the right path. there is more of a chance for them to make other improvements for their health. These foods are good for you, even if they are not perfect, and for a family making decisions about what to eat on a shoe-string, it is better that they do their best, even if it is not THE best.

  14. Geoff McCabe says:

    Shame on Dr Oz. Indeed, an egg is not an egg, nor is anything just the sum of it's ingredients. Everything leaves a wake of interaction with the environment, and if toxins are used to produce something, we're all consuming those toxins eventually. Here on our organic farm in Costa Rica, we're trying to make a difference locally, and thousands of others like us are doing the same… I hope an unstoppable wave towards a healthier future.

  15. Jill says:

    My family used to buy all organic because we know it is better for you. The past 5-6 years we have been struggling to get by and have RARELY bought organic. We all know organic food is better, but most people can't afford it. People need to remember that.

  16. Kelly says:

    I'm a college graduate on food stamps. I have been since college. What do I buy? Good food. I shop at farmer's markets with my food stamps. I don't own a car. So, I don't by gas. I shop when I need things at thrift stores. And I have a wonderful healthy life. I have learned to get by with less. I am excited that it seems like more and more people are starting to get honest with their bodies, our animals, and the Earth. Oh, I forgot to mention. I have a full time job.

  17. Jenny says:

    Thank you for writing this!

    "Spending a little extra on quality products and supporting honest companies will result in robust health and a robust economy."

    I 100% agree.

  18. isabel says:

    While I agree with the content of most of this article, I have to agree with the comments in response that there are far too many basically unsubstantiated claims and the tone overall is a bit preachy/sensational. My question would be: who is this written for? If you are writing to stoke the fires of those that already believe and support your opinions, then mission accomplished. If you are writing to educate someone that is unaware or to sway someone of a different mindset, I am not sure this article would do that.

    I am frequently saddened that we ‘foodies with a liberal slant’ get labeled leftist lunatics that are as out of touch as the far right equivalents. I think we do this to ourselves by not presenting balanced, fair, researched approaches to our opinions. Let’s all be mindful of the idea that eating organic is expensive and unattainable in our current America for many. Let’s advocate with our actions by buying local, practicing a holistic approach to wellness (versus sucking down pills for every ailment), and, most importantly, by giving back whenever possible.

    Where I live, there are quite a few local charities that provide education and access to lower income adults. Also, there are groups that educate children in the school settiing. All focus on moving more, and eating better food from how to pick, prepare, and store produce to the benefits of eating less processed food and the ways that certain foods can be deleterious to your health.

    Agribusiness and profit driven healthcare are not going anywhere until as a society we demand better alternatives. Those alternatives won’t be offered until all Americans, tea party right to hippy left and everyone in between, starts boycotting this system that doesn’t serve them. Dr. Oz is just another talking head, not to be hated but rather to be seen as a symptom of where we are as a culture.

  19. 1ldailey says:

    Eat Hershey's chocolate? Apparently there is a disconnect here. Hershey's is supporting child labor! Who would support that?

  20. thepete says:

    So one article is your evidence that these five foods are being "advocated by the mainstream media"?? One article? And only five foods? Journalistically, if you're trying to prove there's a trend, you need to provide more than one example–even if there are obvious examples all over the place (which there are, so why not use them?) if you're trying to write something that is fact-based, you should include more than one fact source. If you want to reach people who don't already agree with you (in other words, people who don't see the obvious) you NEED more than one example. At the very least, you should point out how hard it is to find foods without chemicals, like HFCS or sodium benzoate, in them. But there's really no reason to not mention the endless tv commercials pedling all sorts of terrible foods marketed to kids. How many disgusting, chemical-laden cereals are marketed as "part of this complete breakfast?

    You could even go so far as to point how capitalism, itself, is just the process where people with money attempt to manufacture a need or even an addiction. So, really all of the mainstream media is unhealthy.

    Gotta hand it to you, though. This article was posted in December of 2012. Somehow you've managed to keep people coming to this post for over a year. I'm guessing it's mainly because of bias syndrome–that's the thing where we subconciously seek out news and opinions that match our own.

  21. Baffled says:

    The mainstream media or just Dr. Oz? Because anyone with a sense of judgement can tell that he has no basis in science and his claims are superfluous. .. This article may have merit, but not much. Unfortunately like the FDA and others, ie Dr. Oz, Elephant journal isn't highly regulated, so whoever wants to believe the hype will….

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