Organic or Conventional Fruits and Veggies: Experts Agree Kids Should Eat More

 

(Watsonville, CA) Today, an entertainment daytime talk show can be credited with creating renewed fear among parents about feeding their children healthy and safe fruits and vegetables - the very foods health initiatives like the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign are promoting.   However, health experts, scientists, consumer advocates and environmental groups all recommend that consumers eat more conventional and organic produce for better health.  “The science and the facts support that both production practices are very safe and consumers can choose either with confidence,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  “We strongly encourage people to read, learn, choose, but eat more fruits and veggies for better health – that’s really the message for consumers.”

The Dr. Oz Show made numerous misleading and one-sided claims about the safety of affordable fruits and vegetables.  It should be noted that recent consumer research has shown similar misleading safety messages results in 10% of low income consumers stating that they will reduce consumption of fruits and veggies. Further, this type of messaging may move another 10% of low income consumers into a state of buying confusion – they simply don’t know what they should do.

“Unfortunately, shows like Dr. Oz are focused on expanding viewership with sensationalized topics. As an entertainment show, they do not present all the facts,” Dolan says. “This show is yet another example of how misleading information that calls into question the safety of healthy fruits and vegetables are undermining public health efforts to improve the diets of American’s, especially children,” she says. 

In an effort to provide science-based information for consumers to learn more about the safety of organic and conventional produce, the Alliance for Food and Farming launched a website, safefruitsandveggies.com, in 2010.  This website contains scientific studies, farming information, nutritional information, tips for consumers, and more so that people can make educated buying decisions.  “We want people to know that they can choose either conventionally or organically grown fruits and vegetables with confidence.   The information from experts on safefruitsandveggies.com will show them why,” explains Dolan.

Viewers of this daytime talk show should be reminded that entertainment shows are not under the same obligation as news outlets to provide balance or the “other side of the story.”  “Despite this entertainment focus, many viewers still perceive the information presented by Dr. Oz as credible.  Therefore, the Dr. Oz Show should feel some obligation to provide balance for its viewers,” Dolan says. 

The only response opportunity the Dr. Oz Show allowed the produce industry was a written statement. “There are literally decades of peer-reviewed nutritional studies and toxicological studies in the area of pesticide residues which were ignored by Dr. Oz and his staff.  Further, there was little mention of the governing regulatory agencies (EPA, USDA, FDA), which oversee the use of organic and conventional pesticides,” Dolan says.

Reporters interested in food safety, nutritional benefits of increased consumption, risk perceptions and analysis, toxicology or consumer attitudes toward food safety, can contact the following scientists and experts for information and comment:

Dr. Christine Bruhn, Consumer Food Marketing Specialist, Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis.  Dr. Bruhn studies consumer attitudes toward food safety and quality.  Her research generates knowledge that lays the basis for effective decision making by consumers at a personal level and for effective policy and actions by public and private organizations. Dr. Bruhn has authored over 150 professional papers on consumer attitudes toward food.  Contact: cmbruhn@ucdavis.edu.

Dr. Carl Keen, Professor of Internal Medicine and Nutrition, University of California, Davis.  Dr. Keen’s main areas of research and expertise include the influence of diet on embryonic and fetal development; gene nutrient interactions; how diet influences oxidant defense systems and cellular oxidative damage; and, the effects of diet on the development and progression of vascular disease.  Dr. Keen’s research group has published over 600 peer-reviewed scientific papers in these areas. Contact: clkeen@ucdavis.edu.

Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, President, Produce for Better Health Foundation. A nationally recognized expert on nutrition and the role fruits and vegetables can play to promote better health, Dr. Pivonka regularly interfaces with policy makers, legislators, regulators, academia and industry on nutrition policy and programs, and is widely quoted in consumer media.  Her work has been published in leading professional nutrition science journals, and she co-authored 5 A Day: The Better Health Cookbook, published in 2001 by Prevention magazine publisher Rodale Press. Contact: epivonka@pbhfoundation.org.

Dr. Richard Reiss, Principal Scientist, Exponent.  Dr. Reiss’s areas of expertise include risk assessments, data analyses, probabilistic exposure modeling and environmental exposure modeling for environmental agents, such as pesticides, industrial chemicals, consumer product chemicals, and asbestos.  Dr. Reiss is actively involved in several scientific societies and he is the Past-President of the Society for Risk Analysis, the leading scientific society devoted to the field of risk assessment. In 2010, Dr. Reiss was elected a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis. Contact: rreiss@exponent.com.

Dr. Carl Winter, Toxicologist and Specialist in the Cooperative Extension, University of California, Davis.  Dr. Winter is an expert in pesticide toxicology, dietary pesticide risk assessment, and risk communication.  His most recent works focus upon pesticide residues in imported and organic foods as well as residues on specific fruits and vegetables allegedly containing the greatest levels of contamination.  He is a former science writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists, the 2012 recipient of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award, and the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers and two books on food toxicology topics. Contact: ckwinter@ucdavis.edu.

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The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables.  We do not engage in lobbying nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.  In the interest of transparency, our entire 2011 tax return is posted on safefruitsandveggies.com.