An Open Letter to Time Magazine and Dr. Oz.

As a simple home cook struggling to figure out how best to feed my family, the December 3rd issue of Time immediately drew my attention. Nested among a checkerboard of dynamic frozen food photos lay the promise of an “Anti-Food-Snob Diet” by the famed Dr. Oz. Preceding the article is a striking two full page plea that readers, “Give (frozen) peas a chance” “and carrots too.” Already an advocate for frozen produce, I was ready to learn more about the wonders available in my supermarket. I was prepared to throw my fist in the air and declare the frozen foods isle the final health frontier. I was not ready to read the first sentence, “There’s nothing like a block of frozen spinach to make you feel bad about your family dinner.”

Hold the phone! What? I thought I was going to be regaled with the fantastic health benefits of affordable eating. Instead I am told if I forego, “fresh, organic leaf spinach that might have been sprouting from the soil an hour ago” and opt for the frozen spinach I will discover it is a, “frosty, slightly slimy, algae-colored slab.” I do want to thank you for informing me that, “the farmer’s-market bounty and the humble brick” have nearly the same nutrient content. I also noticed the lack of reassurance that the “algae-colored slab” tastes good tossed with apple slices, shallots, and a tangy vinaigrette.

Here’s the deal: I actually enjoy the convenience of frozen foods. That “slab” of spinach is a great short cut for adding greens to a lasagna and makes a killer low-fat creamy spinach dip. Why doesn’t the article just go for broke and tell readers how wonderful and convenient flash frozen vegetables are? Give us your favorite way to use that spinach (or peas or carrots) to make a super-fast family dinner.

The problem with your anti-food-snob diet is that its writer is a food snob. How can a budget-minded home cook feel good about purchasing the budget friendly family pack of chicken after reading the following:

“There’s no question that free-range chickens and grass-fed, pasture-dwelling cows lead happier – if not appreciably longer – lives than animals raised on factory farms. They are also kept free of hormones and antibiotics and are less likely to carry communicable bacteria like E. coli, which are common on crowded feedlots. If these things are important to you and you have the money to spend, then by all means opt of pricier organic meats” ... “Nutritionally, there is not much difference between, say, grass-fed beef and the feedlot variety.”

Oh good! Since the calories are the same then the nutrition is the same. Got it! In that case I’ll take the value size meat that is promoting the propagation of super germs, may cause my son to grow breasts and roll the dice that the super-germ-causing antibiotics may not have actually killed the gut exploding bacteria in the first place. Sounds tasty.

The “Which foods pay off” table is laughable. Comparing only nutritional labels does not tell the whole story of a food item. I really struggle to believe that a factory-farm lain egg is the equal to a cage-free lain egg. Please believe that I want to, I just can’t see that it is possible. Furthermore declaring canned tuna a “tie” with a 4-oz tuna steak is ridiculous. These are in no way interchangeable ingredients.

If you see people weeping in the check out line next week, it is because consumers are completely exhausted by having to choose between food and finances. With all due respect Dr. Oz, your 5 page article in Time Magazine has done nothing to make the choice easier.

 

Rose McAvoy

Journeying toward a healthier body, mind, and spirit at Our Lady of Second Helpings

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