Dr. Mehemet Oz, daytime television host of Dr. Oz and the man behind bringing medicine and health to the masses, has found himself in a bit of hot water with the green food community after calling organic food consumers “elitists” “snooty” and “snobs” in a recent article for TIME magazine (you can only read this article if you are a current subscriber).

Oz argues that the organic lifestyle is not only unconventional and undemocratic but also only reserved for the nation’s “1%”.

But before we throw the scrubs clad doctor to the wolves, let’s dissect these notions on the basis that maybe, just maybe, there’s a little truth to his tirade. How often have we heard from friends, family and complete strangers online that eating organic is expensive, not practical and outside of their budget? We’ve all witnessed the single mom at the grocery store filling her cart up with conventional canned vegetables, sugary snacks and chips instead of opting for the healthier foods all in an attempt to stretch her budget and man her household.

Damn right that organic food is elitist. There’s an entire culture centered on the green movement that involves yuppies, yogis, and the occasional hippie.

Socioeconomically disadvantaged communities are riddled with fast-food restaurants, “soul food” hot spots, and junk food galore — with the occasional Farmer’s Market coming far and few between. Food deserts aren’t a myth. They are a true reality for millions of Americans living in disadvantaged communities. But guess who can afford to eat well ALL THE TIME? That 1% everyone is always talking about.

Sure there are ways people can go organic and fresh on a budget, but that takes planning and time. And who has time if you’re a family of four or more working several jobs to pay the rent and have no car to make it to the grocery store every week? There’s no Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s making it to a location near you anytime soon.

There is a national food crisis happening and we can’t ignore its link to obesity, sickness and poor health. For example, Newark, New Jersey just opened a neighborhood Food Depot after 25 years of not having access to a local market with fresh foods.

What Doctor Oz said may not have been politically correct but he wasn’t lying. These realities, however, don’t give us an excuse to stop trying to eat non-gmo, pesticide-free food. We’ll just have to keep fighting.

  • http://beautifulmindtss.wordpress.com beautifulmind

    The price of organic food is ridculous, but that is why I’m a proponent of the idea of urban gardening. I’m very concerned with the chemicals that we allow different food stores to feed us, which is why we should grow our own food.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Dr.Oz neva lied and I do like the idea of urban gardening also.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I def think he exaggerated. You know how many lower-to upper middle class black American and West Indian women go to Trader Joe’s in bk? (including my own). They weren’t shopping there before because of the myth of it being for the 1% but when they found out it was often cheaper than Pathmark, they ran there in droves. Now, whole foods is def on the higher end and there are many other organic places where you can shop and compare prices. I will say the big advantage is that living in NYC you can take the train wherever, which increases accessibility to all kinds of food.

    I think a larger issue is just how “organic” these foods claim to be. In that sense growing your own food is a better option and changing your diet overall. If you’re going to whole foods or trader joe’s to buy their instant mac and cheese instead of kraft, then you’re wasting your time. Also, there are some foods that can be bought wherever because they will be less susceptible to the chemicals used to sterilize them, such as bananas. People just need to do their research and they would realize that going green is not as expensive as people think.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    Oh and I wanted to add long-term cost vs. short-term..expensive, healthier food, vs. money spent on diabetes or heart problem meds….I think sometimes it all equals out…but like I said that I has more to do with diet than organic, because most foods that claim to be “organic” are not that different from non-organic.

  • chelmar

    Will the real Dr.Oz please stand up? Which one will you believe this one or the one who wrote the Times story?

  • chelmar

    Will the real Dr.Oz please stand up? Which one will you believe this one or the one who wrote the Times story?

  • victoria

    No, I dont believe organic is elitist. I say this because I know plenty of people, including myself, who purchase organic who are not in the elite or wealthy category. I purchase organic for my little ones. But most of the time I purchase non organic because it’s cheaper. When I do purchase organic it is typically on sale. Or I purchase frozen.

    IMO, unless you are growing the food in your own backyard, it is not completely chemical free.

    Also, I dont believe the ”I can’t afford organic” excuse as a reason for obesity. People do not gain weight eating frozen or canned vegetables. Fast foods, sodas, chips, hostesses, portion sizes, lack of exercise, etc are the reasons why many are obese.

  • Starla

    Nature ordained natural as the perfect way of being. Humans decided for themselves that they would perfect nature and add chemical pesticides, gmo, and chemical fertilizers to make things “better” and “easier” for us.

    If we want to eat as nature intended for our bodies it has to cost us more, in some cases astronomically more. Monsanto is pushing their agenda for global agricultural domination. They have patented their gmo seeds and one wonders if the “organic food” is truly organic, because the seed is the source afterall. Soon finding 100% organic food will be as easy as finding Bigfoot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/felicityrankinsrhode Felicity Rhode

    The idea of organic food being elitist is kind of ridiculous. We all understand the health benefits of organic food, and we all understand that those benefits come at an additional cost. In most cases, the cost difference isn’t even that big, and if you genuinely care about what you are putting in your mouth the added cost is totally worth it.

    Since becoming more health conscious, in my household we’ve switched our regular grocery shopping from Publix and WalMart to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Our budget has not changed at all. We spend the same amount of money for produce that is is mostly organic and meats that are cage free and vegetarian fed. Healthy living may take a bit of adjusting, but if you care it’s not that big of an inconvenience.

  • http://gravatar.com/rastaman1967 rastaman

    Cannot really comment on the substance of Dr. Oz viewpoint on organic food consumers but having spent a lot of time around people who grew much of their own foodstuff, being organic is really not that special especially outside of the US. So while I would prefer non toxic fertlized foods and free range meats over much of what we get served as food in America, I am generally put off by people who act as if these things are recent innovations.

    Too many organic food consumers act like they are Christopher Columbus!

  • Hehe

    NYC is definitely a unique place when it comes to access to fruits and vegetable. If you factor out organic foods and just focus on fruits and vegetable is so much easier to get here. You can go to lower income neighborhood and find West Indian fruits and vegetable stands on mostly every corner.

  • Keepitreal

    I love Dr Oz’s show but he can STFU with that, if being able to afford to eat the best food = elitist than so be it as if he’s not eating “elitist” food himself. What a failed attempt at trying to represent the “every man”, he is not and that’s okay too. #richmanguilt smh Lol

  • Sweetles

    I read that article, and I agreed with a lot of it. You can eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables without paying for organic foods, which cost much more in many cases. Frozen vegetables is one of these areas where what he said rings true. I would never eat frozen spinach because it just disgusts me, but frozen peas, string beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli and many others are perfectly fine in the frozen variety. You can also eat more healthily by paying attention to the ingredients. He made a case for canned veggies, but I just can’t get down with that.

    I liked that the article scanned the entire supermarket to give readers a taste of foods that they can still enjoy in moderation, and foods they should totally avoid. Take peanut butter for example. Lots of brands of peanut butter have loads of sugar and unhealthy sweeteners, but it’s easy to find a healthier alternative by just reading the label. You would think that this is common sense, but apparently it isn’t.

    I think some items are better bought organic. I refuse to buy to regular milk, I am afraid of the hormones, and I am very careful about the meat we consume. Speaking of meat, Dr Oz had a great point about meat portion sizes and the how much we consume them. What he said just reaffirmed what I already knew. My family and I already have at least three meatless dinner nights.

    I think the information in the article was really good for the most part. I didn’t learn anything new, but given the obesity rates in this country, I lot of people needed that information. There are affordable options to buying organic.

  • DownSouth Transplant

    Well then, I guess I am Elitist Dr. Oz, I mindfully grocery shop at TJ, & it’s cousin Aldi’s whole foods or the organic aisle at any regular store. They maybe expensive a tad but the difference is miniscule compared to my copay every time at the Doctors.
    I chose to be conscious of what my family eats in the house. I accept the title then if that is what Elitist means for him.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables…..and oz can kiss my ass

  • C

    An organic lifestyle can be impossible to do for those who have a much lower income, like those who have been unemployed long term. But even on my low midddle class income, I can still afford to selectively buy organic. I know plenty of others like me who do the same, so it isn’t just for the 1%. It’s not like people have to buy organic produce to live healthier lives. Isn’t regular non-organic produce is better than Hot Pockets and chicken nuggets?

  • dirtychai

    *jumps up* Amen!
    People are calling this green/organic way of living a movement when folks in rural areas have been living this way for generations. Growing up I always had organic vegetables because we lived in the country and grew them in the backyard or could get them for free. When we offered our friends in the city some of our excess, they acted as if it was the most primitive thing in the world to plant a garden, have a compost pile, or to hang clothes on the line. Now they think that they are doing something new with those little kitchen window herbs…get outta here! lol

    I can’t get behind eating anything from a can, some frozen vegetable are organic and quite inexpensive.

  • Overseas_Honeybee

    @hehe. Most definitely. Went to visit some friends in NYC and Harlem. Never saw so many fruit stands, health stores, veggie spots and juice shops. Fell in love and didn’t look back.I don’t buy all of my fruits and veggies organic but I do believe adhering to a plant based diet. If need be I would pay more for organic now, then get smacked down by a mountain of doctor’s bills. Consider it an investment. Quality food can be had at reasonable prices but for some folks its just easier to throw something in the cart and call it a day.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    Coincidentally, the people that I do know (who are active in the organic food lifestyle) just so happens to be elitist and snobbish.

  • i.mean.really

    A study came out last May that linked buying organic foods to elitist, snobby behavior:


  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    This is dangerous. If people believe that organic food is for the so-called elite then that means that crappy unhealthy food is what the poor and middle class should consume. Organic food is healthy food and everyone should be encouraged to eat healthy. Americans in general do not need any more excuses to eat unhealthy corporate food.

    And also; have we considered who might be paying “Dr. Oz” to say this? Who benefits when we eat non-organic? Big corporate food producers that’s who. And I bet if someone were to follow the money there is some agri-business money in “Dr. Oz’s” pocket.

    Shame on him for this.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This! You can still have a healthy and nutritious diet without eating solely organic (besides there are articles around stating that a lot of things are labeled organic that isn’t or how some organic labels fail in comparison to nonorganic foods). I do think there is a tone of elistism because people act like if you aren’t going crazy with the organic stuff or aren’t shopping at so and so then you are eating crap…when that is not the case. You can shop at walmart and make healthy selections just like you can shop at whole foods and make unhealthy selections it ie all about choices

  • mEE

    I understand what he’s saying. elitist is a very specific word but I think he’s speaking to the financial level a person has to attain in order to afford high quality, organic food all the time.
    I grew up in a two parent home with parents who wouldn’t let us eat fast food (my father called KFC chicken, “lab chicken”) and always wanted us to eat fruits and vegetables. but at the same time couldn’t always afford fresh fruit and veggies. so they got it canned or frozen but when they did get it fresh no one was checking the label.

    when I first graduated college, I didn’t have the income to afford organic or even fresh at times. I knew it was better for me and I wanted to get it, but I couldn’t afford it. so I’d have a few “splurge” organic items I’d buy on every grocery trip. but again that was all I could afford.
    fast forward 4 years later and I’m a SINK (single income no kids) with a job that affords me a certain lifestyle. so I got a better apartment, a better gym membership, better clothes, and yes better food. now I ONLY eat organic food and/or food that has minimal processing. I pay more now for less food but that food is a higher quality and that’s a FINANCIAL decision I made because I can.

  • Mina

    I agree it is elitist lol. Organic food is overpriced and caters to the upper middle class because organic foods are like so mainstream/hipster lifestyle now. I’ll admit, I don’t buy organic foods but I buy organic powders, acv, and butters though lol. Trader joes and Whole Foods would be out of business if organic foods weren’t so popular right now. You can easily get “organic” fruits and vegetables just by bathing it in an apple cider vinegar solution. Although organic acv is better since it’s real and not as processed as regular store acv is lol. But organic food is no healthier than regular fruits and vegetables that are frozen or raw. If you’re worried about waxes, pesticides, and the like, bath in in ACV and you’ll save just as much money as you did spending $20 for some organic oranges.

  • DownSouth Transplant

    I promise Mimi, I am not elitist & or snobbish cannot afford to be, I am always the odd one out. the one who did not bring a dozen shopping bags from home & does not care whether stuff is double bagged in 100% recycled paper. I just happen to be lazy in reading labels, it is easy for me to go in & out of TJ’s & wholefoods knowing a good 70% are organic with less labels to read :)

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Good tip Mina, I will try that!

  • TJ

    Organic food caters to the upper class because of supply and demand. If the TJ’s will come to the less advantaged neighborhoods, I believe they would eventually close. It is a lifestyle change and (not all) some black people are not ready to eat healthier. Organic eating is not considered when some cannot fathom letting go of fried foods. It was a struggle for me at first, but I like the way I feel as I’m learning how to eat healthier.

  • MB

    Dr Oz is greedy and will say whatever needs to be said to make him richer…talk about elitist. What happened to your oath in providing health to the people, GMO’s is totally contridictive to good health.

  • Gina

    Shame so he is an elitist and a sell out

  • Molly T

    Maybe organic food is typically available to more well off folks. I eat organic though, and many of the people I know eat organic and we are definitely not in the 1%. That’s a bit of an exaggeration to say only the 1% can afford to eat this way. The green/organic movement may not be affordable to all, but how about all the non-organic farmers who are subsidized by the government, so it can be affordable to more people and so the farmers can make a profit. If the non-organic farmers were not subsidized a lot of the non-organic food would be a lot more expensive. Who is paying for this? We are in our taxes. Anyhow, America’s obesity problem is complex. It’s so much more involved than eating organic. They need access to fresh food and they need to be educated. And, the fast food needs to stop being so readily available. You can go on and on on this subject. I do think Dr. Oz is a bit of a jackass for dissing organic food.

  • Molly T

    But, Dr. Oz can be misinformed, or having a differing opinion, even if not a flat out lie.

  • http://gravatar.com/pinklipstick227 pinklipstick227

    One can still eat unhealthy organic food. Has anyone seen Whole Food’s hot food buffet? Whole Food has organic cakes, pies, mac ‘n cheese and corn bread. I refuse to let my future children eat meat/poultry/milk that isn’t organic but non-organic produce isn’t all that bad. I think healthy eating comes down to a lifestyle choice. You can’t eat an entire cake because it has an organic label on it.

  • Mademoiselle

    I’m probably in the minority on this subject, but I’m someone who has yet to buy into the organic hype. Every time I read anything on the organic trend, it’s always presented as a dichotomy between organic food and overly fatty/cholesterol-ridden food. Chances are people who eat the superfat aren’t reaching for organic any time soon, so to me that argument is moot.

    Personally, I just can’t see myself paying a 10-100% surcharge for “organic” produce that taste exactly like the “non-organic” ones. Then there’s always the “organic food is cheaper than hospital bills” argument. Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that eating all organic healthy food is going to extend your lifespan so much more than eating regular healthy food. Plus, I haven’t been racking up medical bills over my eating thus far, so I can’t see the price increase really paying off for me any time soon. Maybe if there were more articles about loads of people prematurely dying from pesticide-related or growth hormone-related complications I’d take this trend more seriously. But as long as people just keep dying from clogged arteries and such, I’ll just keep eating balanced meals and won’t worry about them being organic (although I do buy organic milk, but that’s only because I can actually taste and prefer the difference).

  • Niqi

    I agree with Oz on this.

  • Kema

    Well I live in Richmond, VA. You have to have a car to shop like that. Yea we have a bus system but it doesn’t go to those neighborhoods.

  • Jerry Clark

    I have eaten organic foode which I feel are far superior to non organic for 25 years and I certainly don’t feel like I am elitist in any way. I am saddened that Dr Oz would change his position and make an absurd statement that just is false.

  • Karen

    Inorganic meat is horrible. We are not speaking about fat content, rather the antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, and arsenic that is fed to the animal. Also eating a stressed animal can cause an inflammatory response in the consumer which can lead to a flare up of an autoimmune disorder. If you saw what the animal looked like before it was butchered, you’d vomit

  • Karen

    It’s not about taste , it’s about not eating pesticides, arsenic, growth hormones, and such. It’s terrible what they allow in food. Please research further.

  • http://twitter.com/korkin14 Conscious Consumer (@korkin14)

    I totally agree Molly. Anti-organic people shout “what about poor people that can’t afford it?” But advocates for organic are not asking the poorest people to buy organic. We’re talking about people with the means, which is honestly most people. I don’t feel sorry for people who don’t take the time to plan.

  • notajoke

    Fuck organic. DUMPSTER DIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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