Dr. Mehmet Oz is everywhere.  On TV.  In books and magazines.  He wrote a really good article for Time Magazine entitled, “Give (Frozen) Peas A Chance — And Carrots Too.” (December 3, 2012.  The article is available — behind a paywall — here.)  The point he makes is that food that tastes good and is good for you does not need to be out of reach for cost-conscious consumers.

Here are his thoughts on using canned and frozen fruits and vegetables in a video from NBC’s Today Show (after the ad).

I like Dr. Oz.  I think he speaks clearly about health issues and, for the most part, is a mainstream thinker.  Like most doctors, 90% of what comes out of his mouth is based on science, and the other 10% is his opinion.  When he moves outside-the-box, he draws deserved criticism from the medical establishment.  And he, again like many of us, can use words that rub people the wrong way:

There’s nothing like a block of frozen spinach to make you feel bad about your family dinner. There’s good food and bad food and pretty food and ugly food–and then there’s the frozen-spinach block. By any rights, this is not something you should want to eat. The picture on the box looks lovely, and the very idea of eating spinach is healthy. But what you find inside is a frosty, slightly slimy, algae-colored slab.

That was bound to bring on some criticism:

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.


The rant, from the “Our Lady Of Second Helpings” blog, continues:

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?


Michael Specter profiles Dr. Oz in the current issue of The New Yorker:

Oprah Winfrey first referred to Mehmet Oz as “America’s doctor” in 2004, during one of his earliest appearances on her television show. The label stuck. Oz was a rare find: so eloquent and telegenic that people are often surprised to learn that he is a highly credentialled member of the medical establishment. Oz graduated from Harvard University in 1982. Four years later, he received joint medical and M.B.A. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He then moved to Columbia and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where, as a surgeon specializing in heart transplants, he has served as vice-chairman and professor in the department of surgery for more than twenty years. (He still performs operations there each Thursday.) Oz also directs Columbia’s Cardiovascular Institute and Integrative Medicine Program, which he established in 1994, and has published scores of articles on technical issues, such as how to preserve muscle tissue during mitral-valve replacements. He holds a patent on a solution that can preserve organs and one on an aortic valve that can be implanted without highly invasive open-heart surgery.

Specter’s profile is not without criticism, however.  He wonders whether Dr. Oz does more harm than good:

Last year, in a show about weight loss, Oz introduced raspberry ketones, an herbal supplement, as “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.” That set off a wave of panic buying throughout the nation. The supplement quickly vanished from the shelves of health-food stores. Oz told his audience that the product regulates the hormone adiponectin, which could help teach the body to be thin. But the only relevant research he cited had been conducted on laboratory rats and cell cultures—not on humans.

A similar buying frenzy followed his embrace, a few months ago, of “the miracle” of green coffee beans. “You may think that magic is make-believe,” Oz said at the beginning of the show. “But this little bean has scientists saying they have found a magic weight-loss cure for every body type. It’s green coffee beans, and, when turned into a supplement—this miracle pill can burn fat fast. This is very exciting. And it’s breaking news.”

None of those assertions turn out to be accurate.

Read New Yorker profile on Dr. Oz here.