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:
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.
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.
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.
A 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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