Back in September, Stanford University researchers published a controversial study claiming that organic food wasn’t any better for you than conventional food. Critics quickly pointed out flaws in the study and fretted about possible health consequences.
But the critics haven’t been able to stop the likes of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the popular health guru, from jumping from the anti-organics bandwagon. In the December 3 issue of Time magazine, Oz trotted out the by-now-familiar argument that organic food is elitist — he compared it to such supposed luxuries as “truffle oil, European cheeses, and heirloom tomatoes” — and told eaters not to waste their money on it.
Naturally, all this raised Tom Philpott’s hackles, and he took Oz to task on his Mother Jones blog:
I agree there’s no point in worrying about whether everyone has access to fancy oil or Camembert. But organic food is different. For one thing, pesticides are poisonous, and they poison the people who have to deal with them: farmworkers. I can think of few less-snobby reasons for buying organic than that it protects the people who feed us from toxic exposure.
But the people who tend sprayed crops aren’t the only ones at risk from pesticides. So are the very people in Oz’s audience: eaters. . . . What would really be great is if Oz would use his syndicated TV show and Time forum to push for stronger pesticide regulations and more federal support for organic farmers.