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Dr. Oz: Organic is “Elitist” & “not much difference” Between Grassfed & Feedlot Beef


There are sources from all over that seem to want to bad-mouth and discredit the importance of eating sustainable, organic food.

It seems perplexing as to why anyone would want to do this, but some of the biggest motivators against the sustainable food movement are big, powerful corporations selling toxic foods that don’t want this segment of the market edging out their profits.

Those who truly care about their health are snobs?

It’s irksome and tiring hearing conventional authorities of health, agriculture, and medicine continue to behave in such a juvenile manner by using these terms to describe supporters of the real food movement.

In a recent TIME Magazine article, Dr. Oz elaborates as to why you needn’t spend ridiculous sums of money on organic, when it’s really no better than conventional.


It’s been said over and over again, that if you buy organic food this somehow makes you an “elitist” or a “snob”. Dr. Oz is the latest in a long-line of “authority” figures to make this claim.

Oh really? I’ll tell you just how non elitist my family is, and we do eat organic, sustainable foods: My husband and I both come from modest, middle-class backgrounds. We attended a state college here in Boise, ID (Boise State University) and worked our way through school. We both worked part-time 20-hour-a-week jobs, and lived off of about $1200 a month for rent, groceries, and other bills.

Like many others, when we graduated we had credit card and student loan debts.  Although my husband was offered a good job in Spokane, WA in 2000 including a sign on bonus and moving expenses, we spent most of it paying student loans, bought a car and some furniture since we had practically none. I worked part-time through this span of my professional career as a technical writer. Shortly after moving, I became pregnant and the work I was doing continued to lessen. After our son was born, I stopped working. We moved back to Boise to be near family since he was born 9 weeks premature because my appendix ruptured and we needed support.

For the first 5 years after my son was born, I didn’t work. In 2006 I worked part-time for the YMCA, then migrated into my current self-employed status of writing and health coaching. In 2009 my husband was laid off from his job. We used our retirement money to start a solar business. Like many other small businesses, we struggled to make ends meet. In 2011, our business partners decided to leave the state without any notice or arrangements, and left us with tens of thousands of dollars in debts, and all the tasks associated with closing down the business. We will be paying those debts off for years.

My husband is now employed full-time again, and we are stable, but money is always tight and we do the best we can. I continue to work full-time hours with part-time pay. But I love my job because I spend all my time educating people about the ways to eat and live well, and to avoid bad advice from “medical professionals” like Dr. Oz.

Each month we prioritize what it is we need to spend our money on, and it amounts to this (and in this order):

  • healthy food
  • rent
  • monthly bills and gas
  • a little extra money for other items including occasional eating out or clothing, household items (last month it was a new tire for $200), and other miscellaneous that budget and save for
Our budget for items like clothes, vacations, entertainment, and hobbies is few and far between. And it’s the same for many people: ordinary folks who have families and who are on one income, singles with one income, people who have had their income reduced or their jobs eliminated and who are unemployed or work part-time while they look for something else, college students, and those who are retired and on a fixed income; these are the people who make up the bulk of our population.
There are people in these demographic populations who want to be healthier, want to avoid toxic chemicals, and desire to consume more nutrients in their food. Does that make them snobbish? Apparently in some figurative universe that is so. However, in the real world and for real people: To eat healthy means to do without extras, to save wherever you can, and to find the best deals available.  So yeah, last time I checked, people like my husband and all the others I described are not the highfalutin, elitist, types. 

Organic and sustainable too expensive?

Another myth that should be dispelled right here and right now is that it’s too expensive to eat healtier. I’m here to tell you that finding good deals on locally-raised, sustainable food is not only possible, it’s done by many and our family does it regularly. If you know what to look for, you can find some great deals.  The mainstream health and food industries are not only fond of saying it’s snobbish to eat healthy food, but that since you can’t afford it, you might as well buy their toxic, chemical-filled foods (which by the way, aren’t as cheap as they’d like you think).
If you continue to insist that the only way to buy organic food is to shop at Whole Foods, you will indeed be disappointed. Chances are things will never change for you. Products sold at stores such as Whole Foods are by and large overpriced and you are not getting your money’s worth in many cases because you don’t even know for certain if the food is what it says it is on the label. Read 8 reasons I won’t shop at Whole Foods when it opens in Boise, Idaho (they are now open and I haven’t shopped there once). If you say you can’t afford to eat better, maybe it’s time to change priorities and make it happen.
By supporting local, sustainable farmers in your own community who are transparent in their farming methods, you can likely find a way to afford the food you want – especially if you are willing to do without all the luxuries and extras you think you need.
To say that buying organic food is no better for your health than conventional or is not worth the money spent is ignoring long-term health effects of eating healthy to decrease the risk of developing degenerative disease and illness.  Eating healthy now will save you medical costs later. It’s that simple.
Read Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food. Look at the comparative analysis of several processed foods versus a real, whole food free from chemicals and other toxins typically found in industrial food from Windy Ridge Poultry, in Alfred, NY.  This poster was created by a farmer who uses it at his farm booth at the farmer’s market each week.
It’s quite amazing how expensive processed and mainstream foods are.  And, you won’t get anything for your money besides toxins, chemicals, and health problems. You are also donating tax dollars for government subsidies which go to big corporations for these “food-like” products.

“Grassfed is not much different than feedlot”

Dr. Oz said, “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. Any lean meats are generally fine as long as the serving size is correct–and that means 4 to 6 oz., roughly the size of your palm. A modest serving like that can be difficult in a country with as deep a meat tradition as ours, where steak houses serve up 24-oz. portions and the term meat and potatoes is a synonym for good eating. But good eating isn’t always healthy eating, and we’re not even built to handle so much animal protein, since early humans simply did not have meat available at every meal. Sticking with reasonable portions two or three times a week will keep you in step with evolution.”

This statement is laughable on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start. Grassfed beef most certainly is head and shoulders above feedlot beef. It comes from cattle that are healthy and living on pasture, where nature intended, and are not injected with hormones or administered antibiotics. If the farmer is conscientious about the health of the animals, environment, and people who consume the meat, they won’t use GM feed for their cattle either.

Nutrient levels in grass-fed meats are naturally higher as a result of good farming practices: fat-soluble vitamins A, D, & E, minerals like iron and zinc, Omega 3s, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). These nutrients “virtually vanish” in the feedlot environment from lack of exposure to sunshine, fresh air, grazing, and nutritive soil according to Eat Wild.

Feedlot meat’s unbalanced nutritional profile of Omega 6 EFAs

Feedlot meat is also higher in inflammatory Omega 6s, which people in developed countries such as the U.S. have in excess,  and which causes chronic health issues and inflammation that contribute to Metabolic Syndrome, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Contrary to most conventional medical advice, lean meats sold on the conventional market are not healthy for us to consume.  Read Deceptions in the Food Industry: Lean meats to learn more about why this is true.

Read Health Benefits of Grass-fed Products from Eat Wild, The Amazing Benefits of Grass-fed Meat from Mother Earth News and The Health Benefits of Grass-fed Beef from Body Ecology.

Organic is not more nutritious

Dr. Oz persists in the idea that organic is no better nutritionally than conventional. These ideas have been refuted againagain and again by various studies.  Even the Stanford study tried to say the same thing, and yet found nothing new. The results were just a compilation of previous studies, and it was revealed that the funding provided to Stanford for this effort came largely from big agricultural and biotech interests.

To say that buying organic food is no better for your health than conventional or is not worth the money spent is ignoring the long-term health effects of eating healthy on the risk of developing degenerative disease and illness.  Eating healthy now will save you medical costs later. It’s that simple.
Remember, just because a bunch of mainstream sources who receive funding by big agriculture, health, and biotech entities tell the same lie over and over again, doesn’t make it true. Always follow the money.

GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other toxins

Some of  the most obvious benefits of eating organic food are that they are grown without antibiotics, hormones, herbicides, pesticides, GMOs, and other harmful chemicals.  But Dr. Oz also doesn’t seem to be concerned about these issues with conventional foods nor that they are treated with chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and are genetically-modified. It’s especially ironic that he’s taken this stance when not so long ago, he allowed Jeffery Smith from the Institute for Responsible Technology to come on his show and talk about the dangers of GMOs right before the California Right To Know GMO labeling ballot initiative would be voted in.

He also allowed conventional scientists and other “experts” to come on the show, who demanded that Jeffery Smith leave the stage before coming on to talk about their viewpoint (which is pro-GMO). If Dr. Oz were a thinking person, he would have told those other scientists that it was his show and they should all be able to share the stage together (he’s had Jeffrey Smith as a guest in the past, with conventional scientists sitting there on the same stage refuting the information he provided).

Dr. Oz, who endorsed GM labeling and revealed that his wife worked on the Proposition 37 campaign to label GMOs, and has stated that to be safe, we should stick with organic foods:

In fact, he said that he prefers to be “cautious” at the end of a segment on his show filmed in October of this year (2012) titled GMO Foods: Are They Dangerous to Your Health? “Right now we have no way of knowing which foods have been genetically modified. I believe you should have that right,” he said. Wow, how much more inconsistent can you get, good Doctor? It’s clear that he’s trying to be all things to all people.

Read Busting myths about GMOs (genetically-modified organism)s if this topic is new to you and learn just how dangerous these substances really are. Also read Stanford study on organics: manipulating consumers into buying GMO products.

In light of all Dr. Oz’s conflicting statements that never seem to agree with one another, it’s pretty clear that he’s being paid off to say the things he does, and that depending on what day you turn his show on your television, you’ll get a different answer.  He pretends to be holistic in his approach to health, but in the end, his advice ultimately serves the interests of the powerful and rich who aren’t concerned about the health, well-being or future of the world’s citizens. The things he says are not just false and irresponsible, but reckless. And the fact that he has such a massive following of people who hang on his every word for health advice makes him dangerous.

I think this should go without saying, but if you are in doubt…at best, be deeply suspicious of his ability to tell the truth – no matter how many of your friends and family are his faithful fans.

More information on real, sustainable food for your family:

What are traditional foods?

Food budgets – Using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating 

Waste not, want not: Tips for saving in the kitchen

Activism Green Living Healthy Living

1 in 4 Meat Packages Tainted with Pathogenic Bacteria


Tainted meat is available everywhere…grocery stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals, prisons…you name it. And it’s all over the news this week and last week – NY Times, NPR, Food Safety News, Sauk Valley News, The News Tribune, Daily FinanceBellingham Herald, and many others. And you know when mainstream news outlets start reporting news items like this, the problem is an epidemic.

This is not a new problem. In 2008, the largest meat recall in history (to that date) was issued, as reported by many different outlets – again, so it’s not like people weren’t made aware of this issue.

Other nationwide meat recalls were issued in 2010 such as the one from Rudolph Foods Company, Inc. in California (205 pounds in January),  Huntington Meat Packing Inc. in California (4.9 million pounds in February),  Zemco Industries in New York (380,000 pounds in August), and there were many, many more.

What’s wrong with the meat?

In short, animals and birds are raised and processed in the most abhorrent conditions possible. They are cramped into close quarters, many of them indoors for most of their lives, and are not given access to sunshine and the ability to roam and graze, and behave naturally. They are fed unnatural substances that are treated with dangerous chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and come from genetically-modified organisms like soy, corn, grain, and other toxic silage and substances (in some cases, tainted meat by-particles and products).  Animals are given hormones to make them grow faster and antibiotics, and birds get antibiotics “to keep them healthy”.

Cattle are not supposed to consume anything but grass because they are ruminants, which means their digestive systems are designed to process grass. Healthy cattle on pasture produce superior, healthy meat.

Animals become sick from living in these conditions and the result is pathogenic bacteria that our bodies simply cannot fight off. As a result, bacteria  like Staphylococcus aureus prevail. According to news sources, “proper cooking” kills these bacteria, but do you really want to eat something you have to cook the life out of in order to consume? And if you don’t cook it enough…well, you just never know what might happen. If you get sick, you won’t be able to successfully treat it with antibiotics because these pathogens are RESISTANT to commonly-used drugs like amoxicillin and penicillin. We’ve abused their use for so long…using them for prevention and for everything under the sun, instead of letting our bodies fight illness naturally.  Commercial farming uses antibiotics liberally on animals and birds to as a preventative measure, and animals receive daily doses of antibiotics in feed their entire lives, from birth until death. It’s no wonder these bacteria are as powerful as they are now.

When we eat this food, we get sick.  We’re eating bacteria, genetically-modified organisms, pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics…all of it negatively impacts our health. It may not happen today, but it could be next week, next year, or longer. But the more these practices occur and the more we eat this food, the more you’ll be hearing about people getting sick and dying from degenerative or sudden illness that is caused by consuming it.

So why aren’t people waking up yet?

There are many reasons…

  • People believe they are too busy and harried in their everyday lives to go somewhere else besides the grocery store
  • They genuinely can’t afford it or just don’t want to spend the extra money or make time to find better sources of meat
  • There is a widespread belief that we can’t possibly feed everyone sustainably and the factory farm model is “essential” to feeding the world
  • There are folks who simply don’t think it’s an issue (or as I’ve heard some say, “it’s just a scare tactic of the news media”)

It’s frustrating to hear people say they can’t afford to eat healthy because they:

  • believe that if they can’t go all organic, they might as well not even try at all
  • believe organic foods are too expensive, and in some cases they are referring to packaged, processed organic foods (which are not much healthier and are certainly very expensive!)
  • believe that good food is entirely out of their reach, but perhaps have money for vacations, hobbies, or other things that aren’t absolutely necessary

But it’s not impossible!

Please understand: my comments here are not a judgment toward people who don’t eat organic food.  Every family’s situation is unique. And don’t get me wrong, I do realize it costs more to buy healthy food, and with our sinking economy and fewer and fewer jobs, it’s certainly difficult.  The purpose of this post is to make aware this issue, and more importantly, to acknowledge that many of us are in the same boat - short on money and living paycheck to paycheck (sometimes FAR between). And yet, many people on budgets are figuring out ways to spend less and eat healthy. Remember that doing something is far better than nothing…and if you don’t have your health, you really don’t have much of anything at all.

Living on a budget and eating good quality meat and other foods CAN be done. And from what I know about meat and how the body digests and processes it – meat and meat products are some of the most critical foods NOT to skimp on because our bodies store these substances in our cells and they are harder for the body to detoxify.

Read this post from last year about the subject of cheap food, and how those up-front, somewhat lower costs you pay at the grocery store for a box of cereal, package of lunch meat, crackers, or container of sugary yogurt don’t account for the hidden costs of eating industrial food. If you figure out how much per pound you are spending on these foods, it makes a $3.99 per pound whole, pasture-raised chicken look pretty darn cheap!

And, don’t forget all the sickness, doctor visits, missed work and school days, and long-term health issues you incur from eating processed foods with chemicals, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, and other toxic ingredients. Eating healthier food supports health, plain and simple. Makes eating healthy look quite a bit cheaper, doesn’t it?

My own family doesn’t eat everything organic, but we do the best we can. We’ve struggled for years to make ends meet…and now we are about to lose our house. We started a brand new business two years ago when the economy was just starting to slump, and let me tell you, sometimes we go for MONTHS without any paycheck at all. But some things are just way too important, and I put healthy food at the absolute top of that list. We do without many things (and I’m not complaining) so we can continue to eat healthy food. To save money, we buy any foods we can in bulk, we work for our food, or trade when we can. Buying meat by the side is cheaper than buying it piecemeal. And, using all the parts you can from the meat you get – bones, stew meat, organ meats, etc. stretches out the meat you get and is more nutritious.

If you want ideas for eating healthy on a budget, here are some of our past posts on this subject:

3 tips for eating organic on a budget

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Waste not want not – tips for saving in the kitchen

Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

Many bloggers have written posts about how they manage to feed their families on a limited budget, barter or trade, and use their creativity and prioritizing skills to buy at least some of their food sustainable or organic:

Eat well, spend less: how to spend less money across the U.S. and Canada Kitchen Stewardship

Super-charge the grocery budget – Modern Alternative Mama

Real food on a real budget – Keeper of the Home

Saving money while eating “real food” – Naturally Knocked Up

Real food, frugal food: compromises can save money – Milehimama

Whatever the reasons that are given…it’s pretty apparent to me that eating a hamburger or steak from a restaurant or a grocery store isn’t worth MY life or one of my family member’s lives, or risking that one of us might get sick enough that we won’t come out on the other side in the same condition.

What can YOU do?

It’s way past time to give up our modern ideals about food is produced because it’s convenient and cheap. If, as culture, we decide this issue is not important enough to make a change in their lifestyle and buying habits, then the problem will only continue to get worse as time goes on.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many opportunities in virtually any local area to make satisfying relationships with local farmers who care about sustainable and safe farming practices, and bringing food to their customers. And supporting local farmers who do good for us can change the future for everyone. By buying from local farmers, you are making it possible for them to continue to provide you with healthy foods.

There are also opportunities lurking everywhere to save money, trade, improve your way of life and the future for our environment and earth, and have better health.

There is also the opportunity to grow or raise your own food:

  • Maybe you have some space for a garden or for chickens
  • Maybe you know someone with land who is willing to allow you to raise a steer or have a milk cow
  • Maybe you have been fortunate enough to have a chance to acquire your own land.

Whatever the case, take the opportunities that come your way and use them!

I’m imploring everyoneplease, please, please, reconsider your buying habits if you are still purchasing from the grocery store or other mainstream outlet.

Go into your local community or farmer’s market and find out how your meat is being produced. Make sure your farmer uses mindful practices such as allowing cattle and poultry on pasture, avoiding antibiotics and hormones, and not using harmful chemical toxins like fertilizers and pesticides.

If we don’t change our buying habits and lifestyles soon, this problem will continue to create viruses that will sooner or later, wipe out big portions of our population. In the meantime, it can make us very sick, or cause people we know or care about to become sick or die.

Ask yourself this very important question: is it time to change?

Food recalls why they could mean the end of food as we know it

Huge FDA recall of 10,000 products – another wakeup call to avoid processed foods

The egg recall and why local isn’t necessarily better

Whole and healthy meat…does it really exist?