Coral B. from Austin, Texas, is a bright and passionate 8-year old girl who loves growing things in her garden, learning about nutrition, and teaching other kids about what’s really in their food and how to eat healthier. She has her own channel on YouTube, and a Facebook page, too. Coral really knows her stuff. She produces informative videos that highlight processed foods which may seem to be healthy, but have questionable ingredients based on her research. With her videos, Coral educates families on how to make better choices with the foods they buy.
And Dr. Mehmet Oz, is a surgeon, author, and daytime TV personality, considered by many in our society to be an authority on issues of health and nutrition. Praised and endorsed by big-time celebs like Oprah, Oz promotes somewhat of a blend between mainstream and alternative health practices and dietary principles.
He also wants you to “dump” butter from your diet. (Tsk, tsk.)
Recently, Dr. Oz wrote an article which appeared in Time magazine about his thoughts on the differences between conventional food products, such as canned and frozen produce, and fresh, organic foods. He doesn’t seem to think the latter is worth the extra cash it costs, and shockingly, discourages people from making the effort to support their local, sustainable food system.
And Coral? Well, she had a a few things to say about that.
Recently, Coral put up a video to address some of the statements Dr. Oz made in his article. The video shows Coral reading an open letter to Dr. Oz which she wrote with the help of her mother. Coral made her video letter with the hopes of it eventually reaching Dr. Oz and eliciting a response. You are gonna LOVE it.
But first, let’s have a look at the Doctor’s claims, and see how they stand up to Coral’s rebuttals. I think you just may be in for a surprise to see who’s really more of an expert on this stuff!
Dr. Oz: Don’t bother buying fresh, organic spinach—there’s “little difference” between that and a block of the frozen stuff.
“Somewhere out there–maybe just a five-minute drive from your house–a farmer’s market is selling fresh, organic leaf spinach that might have been sprouting from the soil an hour ago. This, as 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 now. It may be more expensive than that frozen block of spinach. And more perishable. And more complicated to prepare. But it’s all worth it because it’s so much healthier than the green ice from the supermarket. Right? Wrong. Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between the farmer’s-market bounty and the humble brick from the freezer case.”
Little difference, huh? Let’s have a look at the facts, shall we?
Coral: Pesticide contamination means there’s a really big difference.
“I was surprised that you said there is little to no difference between frozen spinach from the supermarket, and fresh spinach from a local farm. Now, you didn’t specify, but those frozen blocks of spinach are usually not organic, while in our experience, you can easily find organic or pesticide-free spinach at a local farmers’ market. As you well know, spinach is #8 on the list of most heavily-contaminated foods, but you never even mentioned that in your article. How could you leave this important information out of your article?”
I, too, am wondering if Dr. Oz missed the memo about that one, Coral. The EWG clearly shows the evidence that conventionally-grown spinach is, in fact, highly-contaminated with chemical pesticides. Actually, the research was recently updated to show that spinach is now even higher on the list of the most heavily pesticide-contaminated foods—it now stands at #6!
Now, as for the actual vitamin and mineral content of fresh versus frozen, or even organic versus conventional? Sure, Doc—I guess there aren’t huge differences. Who would really expect that there would be? We know that the “organic” label doesn’t mean the food in question is of some sort of superior species with infinitely more nutritional value than its conventional counterpart. The point in buying organic is to avoid both supporting conventional chemical agriculture which is squashing out small, local farmers, and to avoid endocrine-disrupting, carcinogenic, highly toxic chemicals all over our food.
Here is just a small sampling of the numerous “side effects” of chemical pesticides, from both human and animal studies as reported by the CDC itself:
- Reduced fertility
- Embryotoxicity and neonatal mortality
- Reduced survival of young
- Testicular abnormalities
- Bladder tumors
- Abnormal brain activity and acute central nervous system impairment involving confusion, twitching, seizures, and paralysis
- Altered neurotransmitter function and behavioral disorders
- Liver enlargement, injury and tumors
- Kidney degeneration and cancer
- Immunological abnormalities
- Hepatic tumors
Dr. Oz, Coral and I dare you to show us an organic bunch of spinach that gives you all of those health risks associated with your recommended chemical pesticide-laden conventional spinach.
Dr. Oz: Choosing fresh spinach from the farm over the frozen kind is what wealthy “food snobs” do.
“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. 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.”
Coral: I’m not a snob!
“Why do you seem to compare eating organic, local food with being an elitist food snob? And why do you apparently support big national food companies over small, local farms? My family is very far from the elite, or ‘the 1%.’ In fact, we live on a tight budget. But we prioritize healthy food, including having our own garden, shopping from our local farmer, and eating organics. Are we snobby because of this? While we agree that organic foods cost more, we buy very little packaged foods and no canned foods, with the exception of a few BPA-free cans, and we rarely eat out. We are not elitist, nor are we trying to be.”
Seriously. Buying fresh food from a local farm means you’re some sort of an elitist, Dr. Oz? Uh, since when? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone did—rich or poor—prior to the industrialization of our food supply. There have always been people choosing to opt out of the chemical agriculture system ever since. These are people who care about the future and the sustainability of our food supply, and are concerned that industrial processed foods could be harmful—or at the very least, not the most nourishing choice for their families.
Coral, your family is a great example of how everyday folks can make organic, local food a priority, no matter what the budget. When you cut out the more expensive processed foods, there’s more to go around to support local farms instead of those big corporations. There’s nothing “snobby” about it!
Dr. Oz: Canned foods are a nutritious ‘bargain’
As with frozen vegetables, fiber and nutrient content usually stay high in canned foods. Some research indicates that carotenes, which can reduce cancer rates and eye problems, may be more available to the body following the routine heat treatment. What’s more, canned foods are bargain foods.
Coral: According to whom, exactly?
Your recommendation of canned foods really threw me off. As you praised their fiber and nutrient content, called them ‘bargain foods,’ and yet, failed to even mention the dangerous chemical BPA found in the lining of cans. Once again, how could you completely leave this important information out of your article? And as for the study you cited, where canned foods came up the winner again and again, perhaps these results were due to how the numbers were crunched, and the fact that it was funded by the CFA, which stands for the Canned Food Alliance. Yes, you heard me right!
BOOM! You tell him, Coral!
Can we say, ‘conflict of interest?’ How about you cite some legitimate sources for these claims which do not involve industry-funded studies only designed to make the canned food companies more money, Doc?
And really—no mention of the fact that BPA, a chemical found in the vast majority of canned foods, is a known carcinogen? I’m sorry, but I doubt all those carotenes which “reduce cancer rates” are going to outweigh the dangers of this toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemical. Get real!
Dr. Oz: Homemade beans cost 18x what canned beans cost.
In an April study led by dietitian Cathy Kapica of Tufts University, nutritionists crunched the cost-per-serving numbers of some canned foods vs. their fresh counterparts, factoring in the time needed to prepare and the amount of waste generated (the husks and cobs of fresh corn, for example). Again and again, canned foods came up the winner, with protein-rich canned pinto beans costing $1 less per serving than dried, for example, and canned spinach a full 85% cheaper than fresh.
Coral: Only when you have to hire someone to stand at the stove all day!
The study that you referenced shows the cost of dried beans at a whopping $18.05 per edible portion, versus $1.08 for the canned beans. How on Earth could this be possible? Well, in computing the total cost, the study included 2 1/2 hours in cooking and soaking the beans at a rate of $7.25 per hour. Please! My mom soaks her beans for 24 hours, and cooks them for 8 or more hours—talk about some expensive, elitist beans! But, seriously. Everyone knows that you don’t stand around watching beans soak. Ridiculous.
Ha! Wow, I guess I’m supposed to include in my grocery budget the cost of labor to pay myself to cook my food?! Gee, I think I deserve a raise from my current wages, which would be $0 per hour.
You hit the nail on the head, Coral. Beans probably take an actual hands-on cooking time of maybe, oh, 5 minutes I would say? Soo “elitist!” 😉
In reality, beans don’t cost $18.05 a serving, no matter how you spin it. The average cost for a can of cooked beans is about $1.19, which yields two cups. Two cups of dry beans, cooked, costs about $0.50. And those dry beans don’t come with any of the fillers, preservatives, additives, or endocrine-disrupting BPA chemicals of the canned variety.
I think we can let everyone decide for themselves which is the real “bargain.”
Dr. Oz: Pastured and conventional animal products
…for the most part, it’s O.K. to skip the meat boutiques and the high-end butchers. 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.
Coral: Pastured animal products are healthier for us and the animals!
The last part of your article that really bothered me was the way that your article downplayed the benefit of consuming pastured animals, versus those that come from the factory farm. First of all, the lives of the factory-farmed animals are horrendous! With your status, it’s sad that you’re not an advocate for these animals, especially coming from a vegetarian household. And the last thing, while we are not experts, I can’t imagine how there’s not much nutritional difference between a pastured cow eating the natural grass it was designed to eat, and a factory-farmed cow fed GMO corn. And from the studies my mom has seen, grass-fed beef is the healthier option.
The “calories, sodium, and protein” of appropriately-raised beef, versus feedlot beef from a factory farm are “very close,” so that’s all we should care about? Unbelievable!
I agree, Coral, that it’s extremely sad that Dr. Oz is not advocating for sustainable animal farming, especially given his cultural background and stance as a vegetarian—you would think that would mean he cared more about the animals’ welfare than to lump the two into the same category as if they were at all comparable.
And your mom is right—studies clearly show time and time again that not only are there vast differences in the treatment of the animals when conventional beef is compared to grass-fed, but the nutritional differences are quite great as well. For instance, grass-fed meat and dairy are the richest source for CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid—a vital nutrient with potent anti-cancer properties. Grass-fed meat has three-to-five times the amount of CLA as meat from animals fed a conventional factory farmed diet! Pastured beef is also four times higher in vitamin E, and two-to-four times the omega-3 fatty acids. Choosing your meat products carefully is important! Dr. Oz really ought to know better.
Doc, sounds like you could use a lesson from Coralganics!
Really, Dr. Oz—have a listen! See what more you can learn from Coral—who seems to have educated herself a great deal more on these topics than the information you’ve presented in your Time magazine article!
Watch Coral’s video and listen to the entire letter to Dr. Oz here:
Spread the word! Share this video with your friends, AND send it to Dr. Oz!
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Coral’s goal is for Dr. Oz himself to see her video, and to respond to her. Let’s help make that happen!
You can share the video with Dr. Oz himself on his Facebook page here. And post it to your Facebook! And pin it on Pinterest! And tweet it! Use that little bar to the left of the screen to share this post via social media, or share the YouTube link for the video itself.
If you think Dr. Oz needs to reevaluate his stance on local, sustainable agricultural systems, versus the industrial chemical agriculture that permeates the food supply today, pass this on to everyone you know. And don’t forget to subscribe to Coral’s YouTube channel too, for more awesome myth-busting and food education!
Thank you, Coral, for standing up for sustainable food!