Should I Panic if it's Not Organic


Should I Panic if it's Not Organic

Organic Insider Founder Max Goldberg shares why choosing organic (and not just for food!) is a smart choice for you and your health. In addition to organics in food and our life, he discusses whether or not hydroponics should be considered organic, and how the powerful ag-tech industry manipulates public opinion on its chemicals.

Sober for 20 years, Max will be releasing a memoir in late 2020 called UNPREPARED: Breaking Free from a Decade of Antidepressants, which recounts what happened when he went off a decade of antidepressants.

Max Goldberg

Max Goldberg

Founder of Organic Insider

Called an “organic sensation” by The New York Times and named as “one of the nation’s leading organic food experts” by Shape Magazine, Max Goldberg is one of the most influential voices in the organic food movement today. He is the Founder/Editor of Organic Insider, a weekly newsletter read by many of the most influential CEOs in the industry, and it has been called a "must-read" and "required reading". An organic food "activist journalist," Max also runs the organic food blog Living Maxwell and the Organic Food Industry group on LinkedIn (which has over 20,000 members), and he regularly consults with organic food companies and CEOs from around the world. He is also the host of The Living Maxwell Podcast, a recently launched podcast which interviews people inside and outside of the organic food world.


Maria Marlowe: [00:00:34] Welcome back. The Happier and healthier podcast. Today, I have my friend Max Goldberg on the show, who has been called an organic sensation by The New York Times and named as one of the nation’s leading organic food experts by Shape magazine. He’s the founder and editor of Both, which is an organic food blog and Organic Insider, which is a must read weekly email newsletter with all the latest news on everything that’s happening in the organic food industry. So as a health conscious consumer, and especially if you’re a health coach or nutritionists, it’s really important to stay up to date on this type of information. So definitely go check that organic insider e-mail newsletter out after the show. Now, Max is also the host of the Living Maxwell podcast, which he interviewed me for. So you can check that out. He interviews people inside and outside the organic food world. And so today we’re really going to focus on his main expertise, which is organics and GMOs. We’re going to talk about hydroponics and all the questions you have about organic food. Towards the end, we also shift and talk a little bit about his experience with depression and antidepressants and specifically getting off of antidepressants. I think it’s really awesome that Max is brave enough to be candid about his experience about this topic, because this is a topic we tend to shove under the rug and not talk about.

Maria Marlowe: [00:02:20] So I really wanted him to share a little bit about his experience with it, because I know so many of us go through periods of depression. I have so many people who are on antidepressants. And it’s not telling you what to do one way or the other. But I think it’s always nice to hear other people’s stories and hear other people’s experiences so we can learn and just know what our options are. Before we get to the interview, I have one quick update and also a huge thank you. So let’s start with the update. If you guys listened to episode 38, which was with Dr. Momo Vuyisch, which we talked about, gut health, the microbiome, and more specifically, how understanding exactly which microorganisms are living in your gut can help you understand exactly which foods to consume more of and which foods to consume less of for your unique body. I mentioned that I was going to do the test and share my results with you. So my results are finally in. I’ve been following the protocol for 90 days. And so I am sharing my entire experience and the results and all of that with you guys on the blog. You can find that at and you can either just scroll down for it or you can use a search box and just type in stool test. That will probably be the easiest way to pull up that post. Secondly, a huge thank you is an order for all of you guys listening to this podcast and everyone who’s reviewing this podcast on iTunes or whatever platform you listen to it on.

Maria Marlowe: [00:03:57] It really helps as podcasts get incredible guest and to reach more people. So I really, truly appreciate it. And I read every single review. So I wanted to share one of the reviews that caught my eye. And I’m going to continue sharing one of these reviews each week because I really, really appreciate it. And I want to shout you out and say thank you. So, Bree, MW wrote Very insightful and delightful. I discovered Maria’s podcast a few weeks ago and every single one I’ve listened to about 12 has been so eye opening and educational. More people need to be aware of the toxic products available to us and the negative effect they have on our health and society. People wonder why there’s an uprise of obesity, cancer and autoimmune diseases. We need to pay attention to what we’re putting into our body. Her podcasts have made me so motivated to continue to make healthy lifestyle upgrades and venture more into trying natural products after research. Of course, being informed is your first step to mental clarity, longevity, balance and living a happier and healthier life. So, Gary, thank you again for this amazing review. And for anyone listening who wants the writer of you, you can do that very easily. Whatever platform you listen to this podcast on. Be sure to send me a screenshot of your review. You can send it to info at And as a thank you, I’ll send you back a free 3 day healthy eating a meal plan which is designed specifically to help lessen your sugar cravings.

Maria Marlowe: [00:05:25] If you’ve set a goal for yourself to slim down or improve your health and you need some help getting there. Join me for Eat Slim, my 10 week online nutrition and cooking course. It’s been repeatedly called life changing my past participants. As you finish the course, having a better understanding and appreciation for your body. You’ll learn how to tailor your diet to your unique body so that you wake up feeling energized, light and vibrant. You’ll conquer digestive issues, shed weight, get rid of sugar and junk food cravings, and learn how to cook and order healthy foods no matter what the situation. If you’ve been struggling to find a diet that helps you feel amazing every single day. Sign up for Eat Slim at Past students have told me they got more out of this than working one on one with a nutritionist, and that I should be charging double and triple what I am for this course. But I really want to keep this accessible because I want as many people as possible to be able to do this program. So I’ve capped it at less than $30 a week. So if you’re ready to get healthy for a good head to to sign up.

Maria Marlowe: [00:06:50] Max, thank you so much for being here. I’m so happy to share all your tips about organics. So let’s start with the most important question, which is why are you such a huge advocate for organics?

Max Goldberg: [00:07:07] Well Maria, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure and honor to be on with you. So organic is something that I discovered in 2001. And I went to go see this woman I was dating at the time. I went to go with her to her naturopath appointment. And, you know, this natural path started educating me about the importance of organic. And I always thought we needed chemicals to kill all the bugs and this and that. And she was like, no, you don’t. And it was in 2001 I started researching what organic was and what are these chemicals that they were spraying on our food and about GMO foods. And immediately I knew that these are things that I did not want in my body. I was doing some other things that weren’t so great for my body. But I sort of the light all went off about food. And for some reason I just became really, really passionate about it. And I’ve been eating close to 100 percent organic since 2001. But these are things that, you know, our bodies should not be in our bodies. These are cancer causing chemicals that should not be in our bodies. It’s sprayed on much of the food supply in the US. GMOs is as a one big experiment that they’re doing on humans. There are no long term studies on the safety of GMOs. They’ve never been done on humans. Basically, they’re doing them on us right now. And so for some reason I just got really passionate about it and saw the importance of organic food. And several years later, it became how I was spending my days working in the industry.

Maria Marlowe: [00:08:33] Yeah, that’s incredible. And I mean, you’ve even went so far as to found organic insider, like you’ve really made it your life to preach the importance of organics. So you mentioned GMO is I do want to get back to that. And I have so many questions to ask you. But first, I just want to know, what do you think are the biggest misconceptions about organic?

Max Goldberg: [00:08:55] You know, I think that it’s they say it’s only for people of money. And when you look at the data, it’s people of all associate socio economic categories that are purchasing organic. It’s not just people of means. It’s it’s lower and middle income people as well. So I think that’s the biggest one is it’s just it’s only for the upper class and it’s not true. I think everyone so I think price is the biggest misconception about it and who the demographic is.

Max Goldberg: [00:10:17] I think what you know, if you go to farmer’s markets, I think that’s obviously that’s a really good way. And I think the best way for people to look at it is in a few ways. First off, if you can eat an organic breakfast, which it could be cereal. It could be fruit. It could be, you know, whatever you eat for cereal. And generally, if you’re cooking at home, it’s going to be much less expensive. So that’s a thirty three percent or one third of your day. You’re eating organic. So, you know, that’s number one, if you can, you know, shop at farmer’s markets, if you can buy in bulk, if you can get, you know, one or two meals that you cook at home a day or even if you and then ultimately what it comes down to, Marie, is how you want to spend your money, because I have people I know people with a lot of money and buying organic to them is absolutely no issue. And it doesn’t affect their lives whatsoever. And they complained to me about the price of organic. And yet they’ll take trips around the world and they’ll go skiing and they’ll they’ll take, you know, spend tens of thousands of dollars on trips and they’ll complain about the price of organic grapes. So ultimately, what I think it comes down to is how do you want to spend your money?

Maria Marlowe: [00:11:24] I agree. It’s all about perception. Right, and what your priorities are. And if your health is your priority, which I hope it is, and I’m sure if you’re listening it is, then spending a little bit more on the highest quality food definitely makes sense because over the long run, you’re going to feel better. Your health will be better. And so it really makes sense to make that investment.

Max Goldberg: [00:11:45] Absolutely. So that is a conversation I have all the time with people. And, you know, it ultimately comes down to their priorities.

Max Goldberg: [00:11:53] And, you know, if you have kids, I don’t have kids, but if I had kids and money was really tight, I would feed my kids all organic and I would go conventional if I did not have the money to feed. They say the entire family. So when people need to make a decision, it’s get your kids organic first before the adults. If they’re literally you cannot feed the whole family organic because the kids bodies are still developing. They should not be drinking the milk that’s got the bovine growth hormone. And these animals have been fed GMO. That’s the big thing. One of the big things in organic that people don’t realize when you’re eating non organic, me or dairy, these animals are eating GMO feed. And this GMO feed has been, you know, laced with chemicals. And that is really problematic. So it’s the kids are really susceptible to the chemicals and to, you know, this GMO food. So it’s really, you know, getting that priority straight as well.

Maria Marlowe: [00:12:47] Yeah. And definitely animal products. I think animal products, it’s extremely important to choose organic and stories and the best quality that we can. But let’s talk about GMOs. So I think we’ve all heard of GMO. Some people might be more familiar than others. But for those who are not really sure exactly what they are. Can you explain a little bit what they are and why we should really avoid them?

Max Goldberg: [00:13:13] Well, what it is, is scientists, you know, insert DNA of bacteria or whatever it might be into another organism. And so what they’re using them using modern biotechnology to create these foods that do not exist in nature. That’s essentially what it is. And GMOs were discovered were invented for one reason, to sell chemicals. That’s it. If they did not. So chemicals along with. Because what happened is there’s been a lot of consolidation in the industry and the Ad companies are the chemical companies. So the companies that sell the farmers, the seeds are also selling them chemicals. It’s like the razor and the razor blade. The value of selling someone a razor is not the razor itself. It’s selling them the blades. So that person has to go buy blades every week or every month. It’s the same model with the GMO industry where the farmers buy seeds and they have to buy the accompanying chemicals as well. So these are crops that have been engineered in a laboratory that do not exist in nature, and that’s the problem with it.

Max Goldberg: [00:14:13] So these scientists are essentially playing God with our food supply and they’re making these changes using modern biotechnology. And we do not know the long term effects of this food. So they present real health risks. And the other thing, as I just mentioned is, you know, these crops are being sprayed with cancer causing chemicals. Glyphosate is the most prominent one. Three hundred million pounds of glyphosate are being sprayed each year in the US, 1.6, 5 billion globally. Now, glyphosate is the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s roundup and glyphosate is known to the state of California to cause cancer. The World Health Organization said glyphosate is known as they said it’s a probable human carcinogen, which means it probably causes cancer. This is what’s being sprayed on our food supply. This is what’s being sprayed on the playing fields at schools. This is what’s being sprayed in our parks in New York City. They’re spraying into parks. There’s there’s movements all over the country, including New York City, to have them stop spraying it on our parks. So it’s absolutely everywhere. And people wonder why cancer rates are nearly 50 percent in this country. So GMOs are a real problem, but it’s I would say even more so is are the chemicals that come along with the GMOs.

Maria Marlowe: [00:15:33] Yeah. You know, it’s incredible. So back when I was in school, actually did a paper on GMOs for my biology class and my professor hated it, hated my conclusion and my hypothesis. But basically I dug into the research, into USDA research, government research, and the sort of sentiment around GMO. Is that the reason they were created it? I’m sure it is to sell more chemicals. But what they say is it’s because they want to increase crop yields and feed more people. Right. And so what I found by digging into the actual government data of output of these GMO fields is that not only do GMO farmland, does it produce less crops than the just regular ones that don’t have GMO is they actually end up spraying more agricultural chemicals because what ends up happening is those pests become resistant and so they become stronger and stronger, whether it’s weeds or bugs or whatever it is. So they have to just keep spraying more and more chemicals. So these GMO farms, like you mentioned, they end up using more chemicals on them than just like a regular even conventional farm.

Max Goldberg: [00:16:42] Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, this narrative that we need GM most to feed the world is 100 percent propaganda. The reason people in Venezuela are starving right now has nothing to do with not being able to feed them and not enough food in the world. That’s a political issue. So this narrative that these politicians have been fed by lobbyists is just complete and utter nonsense. But they’re not being told the other side because are the organic, you know, on our side, the lobbyists and whatnot. We haven’t done a good job of educating the politicians. They just have so much more money to spend on lobbying and have been so aggressive with it for so many years that the politicians believe that.

Max Goldberg: [00:17:23] So from a political stand lobbying standpoint, we just don’t have the muscle that the Ag chemical industry does. And also, as you do, we’re talking about super weeds with about I think it’s about 50 million acres of super weeds in this country where these crops become resistant to all the chemicals and the weeds actually grow stronger and more resistant. And so what the chemical industry has convinced the EPA and is, well, we need stronger chemicals. So one of the things that they’re using now is two 4-D and 2 4-D was used in Vietnam for Agent Orange. So actually spraying 2 4-D on our crop. Well, they have been for a while and they’re going to spray be spraying a lot more of it going forward. So we’re in the pesticide treadmill. And, you know, it’s that’s one of the reasons why. You know, Maria, when I first got into organic food, it was a very selfish reason. It was I don’t want to put this in my body. But as time went on, I realized that this is much bigger than just me. This is about, you know, what’s better for the environment.

Max Goldberg: [00:18:28] And also what very few people think about is what’s better for these farm workers. You know, these farm workers, they get really sick because they’re outside having to pick all the crops in these fields that are sprayed with pesticides and have minimal to no protection. A lot of these farm workers are here illegally. You know, their rights get abused. And, you know, so when we buy organic, it’s really a political statement saying, I don’t want these chemicals poisoning my land, my water, and I want to protect farm workers and make sure that they’re not exposed to these chemicals. So organic, in my view, you know, once I got into the industry and start writing about it in 2010, my perspective on all this shifted from just about what was good for me and understanding the role that organic plays an even larger role in society.

Maria Marlowe: [00:19:26] I mean, that’s a great reminder. Right. Because when we’re standing in the grocery store deciding between the organic apple and the conventional apple, it’s not just us and our health that we’re making a choice for. Right. We are choosing for those farm workers. Right. Because the more organic that we purchase, the more organic farmland. We’re gonna need less of the conventional. Right. And I remember this was so long ago. I mean, this has got to be over five years ago. I remember reading an article in The Times about the tomato farmers in Florida, actually, and they were having children with three like. Or, you know, three arms and are missing a limb and all of this like crazy, crazy stuff. And it was believed to be from all of the agricultural chemicals that they were spraying. So, yes, our choices affect the farm workers, our own choices affect the environment because those chemicals are blowing in the wind. So they’re in our air and being deposited all over our neighborhoods. They’re running into our water, which we we are then drinking right? So there’s just so many repercussions of that one choice. Right. That can be traced back to what are we choosing in the grocery stores? That’s a great reminder.

Max Goldberg: [00:20:38] Yeah, absolutely. And it’s and it’s hard for a lot of people to go to the grocery store and think about the farmer because they never see the farmer. They have no contact with. It’s hard. But ultimately, this is a choice that’s much larger than what’s good for me.It’s really you know, this is about what’s best for society.

Maria Marlowe: [00:20:57] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, to be honest, I never really think about the farmers when I’m shopping, but that is like a really great reminder. Speaking of which, I’d love for you to speak a little bit about the difference between these large organic like huge, huge organic farms that we see in every grocery store. You know, we see the brand names in every grocery store across the country, verses you mentioned shopping at farmer’s markets in these smaller organic farms, maybe local farms. Is there a difference between the organic that we’re getting from that huge agricultural farm versus the small one?

Max Goldberg: [00:21:31] Yeah, there is a big difference. And that’s one of the major issues in organic right now. Organic has become very, very big business. It’s I think, the latest numbers that came out. Fifty two billion in the US. So it’s big business when you go to the organic food trade shows, particularly Natural Products Expo West each year in March. It’s I don’t know, this year was eighty five ninety thousand people in it. It’s chaos. You can you can barely walk the aisles on the first day. So it’s become really big business. So a lot of these major agricultural producers want to get in. And so when you look. And so basically what’s happened is a lot of these dairies, particularly those in Texas and Arizona, they have these dairies with fifteen twenty thousand animals that are not getting adequate access to pasture.

Max Goldberg: [00:22:21] And The Washington Post did a big investigation on a company called Aurora Dairy, where they took satellite photos, took visits. And what they showed was it appeared that they were major, major violations in how these dairies were operating. And so that’s one of the big problems we have in the industry, is that, for example, with milk, not all organic milk is the same. And this is it. This is one of the problems that we’re facing with right now. You go into the supermarket and you buy organic milk, any you know, I’m not going to single out brands you can go to. Anyone is curious and go to the corner. Cornucopia Institute, I think it’s and they have an organic dairy scorecard. And they’ve ranked all the brands from the worst to the best. And you can see how they’ve rated it. But not all organic milk is the same. And generally, it’s the smaller ones that are following the rules to the T. We’ve got larger ones that are skirting the rules because the USDA has done an absolutely horrible job of cracking down on certifiers and creating a level playing field. And that is one of the reasons why, you know, if you read, even though dairy consumption is going down and more people are switching to plant based alternatives, there’s a glut in the organic milk market because you’ve got these massive essentially organic factory farms producing milk and the USDA is not cracking down.

Max Goldberg: [00:23:46] And The Washington Post did a huge investigation about this. And it’s putting a small organic dairy farmers out of business. And they not only they’ve got these major issues with the rules as well. I don’t want to get into it. It’s pretty technical. But essentially they have not clarified the rules and they are not enforcing the rules. So that’s one of the reasons why I became so involved politically, Maria, was because I was seeing what’s going on. It’s like, how can I just sit back and not say anything? And that’s really guided, you know, what I do in my writing. So to answer your question, we’re in specific regards to dairy. People should go to their cornucopia or check out their organic dairy scorecard. And if you can buy from a farmer at your farmer’s market that’s certified organic, or if that person, a farmer, is farming organically and you know, and they can tell, you know, where we’re not using a pest management where everything’s clean. No hormones. You know, I think it’s great if you can buy from your farmer and you can look your farmer in the eye. He or she can tell you how the food is produced. So, I mean, that’s fantastic. We can do that. But that’s that’s not something that everyone can do.

Maria Marlowe: [00:24:59] Well, yeah. In a lot of places there, it might be harder. To find farmer’s markets and a lot of these major cities like New York, even they have great farmer’s markets. You don’t get everything there because not everything grows in that region. But, you know, we do have great farmer’s markets. You can talk to them. For anyone who wants to find a farmer’s market, by them, they can head, to Well, there’s two places. So one place that’s great is called And you can look up by your state any sort of organic producers of both animal products and vegetable products. You can see what’s local to you and you could sometimes even order. So you don’t have to actually go anywhere. And there is another Web site called And that will tell you all of the farmer’s markets in your neighborhood or in your state. So those are two great resources. So you mentioned earlier the importance of organic standards, not just in food, but in other areas. Right. So you mentioned like, for example, parks are being sprayed with pesticides. And I remember again a few years ago, I love Central Park. I love sitting and laying on the grass. And I remember one day walking in to the great lawn or whatever it’s called, and passing a gate. And there is a sign attached to the gate that basically said they were spraying glyphosate on on the grass. And I was like, oh, my God, this is terrible. So, yeah. So where else are we coming in contact with these chemicals? And we don’t even realize it.

Max Goldberg: [00:26:37] Well, it’s certainly and cleaning supplies. So when you go into the bathroom and they’ve got the air fresheners that definitely that they’re putting these chemicals in garbage bags. Now, to counter the smell of any food or whatever odors people have in their garbage. So those are definite things in cleaning supplies. Are the big ones trying to think what else besides parks?

Maria Marlowe: [00:27:03] What about textiles like cotton?

Max Goldberg: [00:27:05] Definitely. And that’s why organic mattresses have become so popular because of the off gassing and organic textiles, really the next frontier, because, again, you know, these people who are growing cotton, it’s all GMO. It’s predominantly GMO cotton. And they’re spraying with all these pesticides and it’s clothes that you wear every day. It’s whether it’s socks or underwear, shirts, whatever you’re wearing. I mean, do you want that stuff touching your body?

Maria Marlowe: [00:27:31] Right. It’s the same as with beauty products. And then the lotions that we’re slathering on our skin that’s basically being absorbed into your bloodstream and very high amounts. So it’s something with their clothes.

Max Goldberg: [00:27:43] Exactly. And I think organic clothing is really the next frontier. And, you know, as prices come down as and people don’t want to sacrifice style. And one of my good friends, Marcy Zariff, is probably the preeminent organic clothing and textiles person in the country and one of the top in the world. And she always talks about, you know, no compromise, no compromise for style and no compromise for the environment. And that, I believe, is the next frontier, which is organic clothing. So right now, it’s not that it’s not that easy to find organic clothing. Yes, you can find it online. But, Maria, how often you go shopping and you see organic clothing is aside from when you’re in Whole Foods.

Maria Marlowe: [00:28:29] All right. And I don’t really want to wear anything from a Whole Foods, to be honest. Like, no. Believe me, I know. Like I know for years. I mean, I used to buy organic underwear. I’m going to be honest. I don’t really buy it anymore. Just because first of all, it’s very expensive and it’s harder to find. You can’t get all the styles and stuff. But yeah, I mean, there’s not a huge amount of organic clothing.

Maria Marlowe: [00:28:51] I mean, one thing that I’ve been really cognizant of lately, but I don’t really have a great alternative is all of this workout clothes that is made from all these synthetic materials. And even, you know, there’s a lot of these great brands coming up that have these beautiful styles and they’re trying to be sustainable and eco and they’re made out of plastic water bottles. And I’m like, I really do not want to be wearing a plastic water bottle while I’m hot and sweaty and. Yeah. So we definitely need more options, not just in organic cotton and organic materials, but also that are fashionable because I do not want to look like a canvas bag or something. So, yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s definitely the next frontier.

Max Goldberg: [00:29:31] Yeah. And I think it’s coming, you know, more and more. There are numerous organic, you know, jeans companies where maybe in the past you would never buy them. And now I think they’re you know, it’s coming.It’s coming. They’re more entrepreneurs getting into space. So the options, it’s you know, obviously I don’t use them, but say organic tampons. They’re they’re numerous direct to consumer. Organic tampon companies on the market now. And maybe two or three years ago, there were probably, you know, maybe one. Or you could buy them at Whole Foods.

Maria Marlowe: [00:30:05] But there were there were not a lot of options a few years ago, and now there’s numerous companies that are doing that. And I think the same thing’s gonna happen with clothing as well, because, you know, when you eat organic food, it doesn’t just stop like, OK, I’m going to eat organic food and that’s it. You want, you know, Eco-Friendly cleaning supplies, you want sheets, you want towels, you want clothing. It becomes a lifestyle because you don’t want chemicals in any area of your life.

Maria Marlowe: [00:30:30] Right. You just kind of go down that rabbit hole and you realize how many toxins were coming in to contact with in our daily life. And I always say wherever we have control, wherever we can make those changes and make those choices, that’s where we should. And, you know, it’s that way when we’re out in the world where there’s pollution and that we’re at restaurants and, you know, we don’t really have control over those things. You know, that’s OK as long as we’re making the best choices that we can at home.

Max Goldberg: [00:30:59] Yeah. And one of the things that I’m really talking a lot more about now is air quality and ultra-fine particles, because these are things that we cannot see, but they are linked to stroke, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer. Air pollution is a real, real issue. So that’s something I’ve been talking a lot more as of late as well.

Maria Marlowe: [00:31:21] A quick break from this episode to share with you an amazing opportunity. Are you interested in turning your passion for health and wellness into a career that helps hundreds, thousands or even millions of people live healthier? If so, consider becoming a holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The original and top health coach certification program I studied there in 2012. And it completely changed my career path and life. I went from an uninspiring job in finance to an exciting, fulfilling and rewarding career as a full time health coach. The program is offered as a one year or accelerated six month course, and it teaches you a mix of nutrition, coaching and business. They have some of the top teachers, including Dr. Walter Willett, who is the chair of Harvard’s Nutrition Department for 26 years. Dr. Marion Nestle, a professor at NYU and author of one of my favorite books, Food Politics. Dr. Mark Hyman, who is the medical director at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. Dr. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, Gaby Bernstein. And so many more millions of people are suffering from diet related illnesses. And I truly believe the world needs more health coaches. That’s why I’ve teamed up with and to offer an incredible opportunity to make studying there even easier. You’ll get fifteen hundred dollars off tuition plus one on one mentoring with me. Plus, you’ll be added to my private Facebook mentorship group where you can connect with other students and grads and also practice with them. To get your three bonuses, simply email me at [email protected]. That’s m a r i a m a r l o w e dot com with the subject IIN and I’ll personally send you back to email that will allow you to get all of these amazing bonuses. If you feel called to explore or start a career in health and wellness. Definitely reach out.

Maria Marlowe: [00:33:41] Yeah. So I’d love to actually dive into that a little deeper because I’m very interested in this and I’m very interested in air quality, especially like traveling. You know, sometimes different countries have very different air quality standards. And I used to think that L.A. was really polluted. But then you go to some other places and you’re like, oh, my God, I can’t even breathe. It’s so like the air is so heavy. It’s so polluted. And I have seen, again, warnings on different government websites, like when the air quality is so bad, they say, especially for people with heart conditions. And certain conditions really should not be outside breathing that air because it can cause more issues for them. So what is there a filter you recommend or how do you recommend we keep our air clean or any any tips for just being cognizant of our air quality?

Max Goldberg: [00:34:26] Well, the air purifier that I use is called the Intellipure here. And if anyone wants more information, they go to And what I’ve done there, Maria. This is a company. I’ve been using their products. I don’t know for probably fifteen years now. Well, before I start writing about the organic food industry and what I what I did on my website, Maria is, I took a particle counter. This is a class one medical device. So I measure the air quality in my apartment with the intel up here versus two really popular machines. One is the Dyson and the other is the molecule. And so I said, all right, let me test this out and see how they compare.

Max Goldberg: [00:35:08] My machine removed 100 percent of the ultra-fine particles and viruses and bacteria and the other ones only remove, you know, roughly 60, 70, 80 percent of them. So not all of these air machines are created the same. And the other thing, these people who do the intel up here, they’re involved with another company called Pure ROOM dot com, and they have about 5000 hotel rooms. I’m not sure if it’s international. Definitely in the US hotels throughout the country where they have these air purifiers in their hotel rooms and they have hypo allergenic bedding. And when they first convert the hotel room over, they completely sanitize the hotel room. They’ve got filters on the shower-heads. So, you know, this is the way the world is moving. So when you’re traveling, you want to look for these types of things when you’re traveling and make sure that you know or hotel that’s got more and more hotels are using organic bedding or some have organic mattresses. So these are the types of things that you want to look for. And definitely you want to bring your own organic soaps and, you know, eco friendly soaps and shampoo and when you’re traveling. So these are these are the things that you’ve got to look for when you’re traveling. And fortunately, the world’s changing. So there are more and more of these options out there.

Maria Marlowe: [00:36:22] Right. That’s awesome. I actually did not know of that website. I will definitely be using that going forward. That’s a great tip.

Max Goldberg: [00:36:29] Well, I used it at Expo West this year in Anaheim. And I mean, it really made a difference. And the other thing that you want to do is you want to try and this is much harder to find is you want to try to find a hotel room where they open the windows. There’s so many hotels now. I think they do it for liability purposes. They don’t want anyone falling out of the window or jumping out the window. So they seal the window. You can’t even open a lot of these windows. So if you’re going to book a hotel room, I would also try to find a hotel room where the windows do open.

Maria Marlowe: [00:37:03] Right. Because a lot of times the indoor air quality is actually worse than the outdoor air. Right?

Max Goldberg: [00:37:09] Well, the EPA says it’s indoor air quality is two to five times worse indoors than outdoors. And imagine if you’re staying in a hotel where they’ll tell you, yeah, we have air filters and we’re pulling air, you know, in and we’re filtering it in. But, you know, come on. Well, as last time they clean the air filters, you know. And so imagine you’re in a hotel room where that hotel room for years and years and years has never gotten any fresh air.

Maria Marlowe: [00:37:32] Imagine what that’s actually so gross. And again, that good point that I know you don’t really think about, but it’s true, most hotel rooms are sealed and we should really, shouldn’t really be having some fresh air. So even at home, I’m about to after I got off of the let’s call it, I’m about to open my window and fresh air in here. Exactly.

Max Goldberg: [00:38:09] Hydroponics are essentially your growing vegetables and water are fruits and vegetables and water, and that’s what it is. And when organic standards are written, it’s very clearly in the statutes. I’ve read them. I mean, if you look at 6 sections 6513 and the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, it says farmers have to have a management plan that fosters soil fertility. So a lot of these very, very big companies are growing berries and they’re growing tomatoes. I would say people that I trust to our organic tomato farmers that are legit, doing a legitimate and growing it in the soil. Tell me about it. They think about 90 percent of the nationally sold tomatoes or all hydroponics. So some people may be saying, well, what’s wrong with hydroponic? There’s nothing inherently wrong with hydroponic except it’s not organic.

Max Goldberg: [00:39:13] Organic is about the soil. So getting the nutrients from the soil soil has energy that can not be. And all these microbes that can not be replicated in a bucket of water. So not only is it a violation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, but it’s putting these small organic farmers out of business. So if there’s a lot of these farmers who are growing, say tomatoes in the soil cannot compete with these big hydroponic operators because of efficiency, and it’s just not a level playing field. And the USDA is allowing this and there’s legal action against the USDA for them just sort of basically allowing it. I interviewed Sonny Perdue, the secretary of the USDA, and asked them about it. And his response was, well, our job is to feed the world. That’s the response we’re getting. So there’s legal action being taken.

Max Goldberg: [00:39:51] So when people out there are eating, they might say, well, how do I know if minor hydroponic the big shell game in the industry is a lot of these big companies will say we’re not growing hydroponic. We’re doing container growing systems. And it essentially is the same thing. A few minor technical differences. But you need to ask them, are you growing this in the ground with soil? That’s the question. When people are buying their berries or, you know, tomatoes, strawberries, whatever it may be, you know, you’ll notice a difference when you’re eating a hydroponic strawberry versus a strawberry grown in the ground. You notice a difference. So hydroponic is a very, very serious issue in the industry. Putting organic farm, small, organic family farmers out of business because they cannot compete on price efficiency.

Max Goldberg: [00:40:41] And it’s a nutritionally an inferior product because they just you can not replicate the nutrition in a bucket of water than you can in the soil, even if some of the macro nutrients, if you know somebody is hydroponic people’s, you know, we wait. It’s exactly the same. We’ve tested it. You can’t duplicate the energy you get from soil and all the microbes you get from soil. We don’t even know what these tests are because it’s we don’t really know what’s in the soil, but we know that soil is energy and it’s life. And you just cannot replicate that in a bucket of water. And that is just not what organic is all about.

Maria Marlowe: [00:41:19] Yeah, I feel like sometimes we should stop messing with Mother Nature, just let her do her job and, you know, let her do her own thing. And we don’t need to try and recreate things in a lab or whatever. I mean, I understand in certain places in the world, for example, in the Middle East, it’s so hot there for at least six months of the year. You literally can’t grow pretty much anything except like dates, you know, uncertain, certain fruit, certain a few things that you can’t really grow, that greens and vegetables and all this stuff. So a lot of times I’ll turn to hydroponics. So maybe in that situation I make sense because they literally cannot grow anything else. But in places where we do have access to fresh fruit and we can grow them in the soil, I feel like that’s always superior. And even, you know, I was making a tomato tart the other day, so I had to buy two pounds of tomatoes. So I bought a mix of heirloom tomatoes, which I absolutely love. They’re so flavorful and they’re so beautiful. And it’s funny because the girl at the checkout counter was like, oh, you know, I always think that heirloom tomatoes are so ugly because they’re not perfectly round. They’re all like misshapen and like there’s lines and stuff in them and they’re beautiful colors. And when you cut them open, they look so different. And I actually bought regular tomatoes. I thought I was buying organic. They were actually conventional, just regular round red tomatoes. And then I bought the organic heirloom tomatoes and I cut them up, sliced them, and I put them on two different traits. And just looking at them, you could see the stark difference because the conventional tomatoes and I don’t know if they were hothouse grown or not, they were completely waterlogged. There was like a ring of like they were just such a pale red color and there was like a ring of white almost inside. And they just look like bloated, basically. And then the heirloom tomatoes are such a vibrant, rich color and they were not like overly. Overly hydrated at all, like just looking at them, you could see the difference, tasting them, you can see the difference. And definitely nutrition wise, when you’re bloating a food with water, you’re essentially diluting the nutrients in there. And also the flavor.

Max Goldberg: [00:43:25] And taste is a really good indicator of nutrition. So if you’re biting into a strawberry, even an organic strawberry and it’s happened me the other day and like, what a tasty thing. There’s no flavor. It gives you a good idea of how it was grown. So taste and color are very good indications of nutrition. I mean, I agree with you. It’s something people that they really need to look out for, because if you’re gonna spend the money for organic, you want to make sure you’re getting really flavorful, really nutritious food.

Maria Marlowe: [00:44:57] Right. And how it should taste be full of flavor. So I want to shift gears a bit and talk a little bit about the subject of your next book. I know that your first book I know that you’re working on and your journey with depression. So I feel this is something that I mean, we’re starting to talk a little bit more about now, especially with Mental Health Awareness Month. And I find that it’s something that affects so many of us, like so many people, especially young people, are dealing with issues of depression are and are on antidepressants. So can you share a little bit of your story and why you decided to write your book on this.

Max Goldberg: [00:45:38] In 1990 when I was in college.I was having trouble getting through the day. And, you know, it was, you know, the struggles had been going on the years before and it got really worse. And my parents came to visit me and said, you know, we we’ve been noticing you’re really struggling, really concerned, and we want you to go on antidepressants. You know, one thing led to another and then pretty I went to go see a doctor. Next thing you know. Yeah. You seem like you’re depressed. That could help. So I took them. I always did what my parents told me to do. And I went on them. And in the beginning, it did help me get better. I did feel better. But over time, it started to numb me. They started to numb me emotionally. And I drank a lot. And when I moved to New York City, I was working on Wall Street. They really numbed me emotionally. And the only time that I felt free and alive was when I was drunk. And that’s why I drank so much. And so numerous years later in 2001, I realized that this is not how I wanted to experience life and that what I vividly remember, I woke up one day and there was a whole series of things that happened that made me go off them. But I remember that I woke up one day and I said that it was a miracle that I was born, that anyone is born not just me, but it’s a miracle that we’re born.And I said the only way that I can get through life is through a pill made in some industrial park off the highway. I said, this is crazy. This makes no sense. And so I decided to go off the meds and it took me three and half years to recover. I was suicidal, but I and I eventually turned the corner. But I just knew that I. And that was right around the time that I started eating organic food. I just knew that this was not how I wanted to experience life. And it didn’t make sense to me that the only way I could get through life was through these meds. And so, yeah.

Max Goldberg: [00:46:52] Depression is something that afflicted me for many, many years, was brutally difficult to get off of them. And I didn’t know what I was doing and had to figure it out on my own. And over time, I had to develop all these tools and strategies to deal with the depression. And there’s just so much information I didn’t have back then, you know, that I have now to you know, it’s for me, it’s not something that ever goes away. It’s always something I have to monitor and I have to do things to keep it in check. And then, you know, later this year, I have a book coming out. It’s a memoir about my experience before, during and after the antidepressants. And my position is I don’t, I’m not saying everyone should go off of them. That’s not my position. It’s, The book is really just about me and my journey. So I believe in individual choice that people people should do whatever they think is best for them and whatever they do, they should consult a doctor. But so that’s been my experience with antidepressants and organic food actually played a very big role because in 2001 when I found organic food, I knew that I was never going to not eat organic food again. I just just like I just don’t see myself ever quitting or organic food and going back to the chemicals in the GMO foods. And here I am in New York City, running around, running around, looking for food that doesn’t have chemicals. And yet I was popping a chemical into my mouth each morning. I said, this doesn’t make any sense. So, you know, organic food did play a role in my my going off of them.

Maria Marlowe: [00:48:53] And is there any other things that you found really helpful and sort of helping you feel back to normal?

Max Goldberg: [00:49:01] There were several things. It’s you know, one of the things that I talk about is to have a to do list and a not to do list. So it’s in there to do list. What are the things that you have to do to make your life function? So whether that’s yoga or meditation or not, eating sugar or sugar was a really big one for me in my sort of recovery from depression because I eat these cookies and you know, these are all natural organic cookies. And I fall into a massive depression for a week. I mean, I literally would take me a week to get out of this funk and then I’d get out of it and eat these cookies again. And all of a sudden sort of like butting heads in 2002, the light bulb went off, oh, my God, it’s these cookies. And I realized that it was the refined sugar. So I. Except for maybe some trade show. I mean, I practically no refined sugar. If I do, it’s coconut sugar or a palm sugar or or honey or something like that. So it’s having this to do list and having a not to do list. And, you know, they’re opposites.

Max Goldberg: [00:50:01] So it’s making sure that at the end of the day, Maria you know what? We’re our own coach at every single moment. And so we may have our own health coach or life coach or whatever it may be. But ultimately, we have to be our own coach. We have to coach ourselves at all times. So we have to develop these habits and tools that can make us move forward. So for me, it’s, you know, getting sunlight and vitamin D, is really important, not having the sugar, being with people is really important. You know, even though I was meditating when I was in, you know, after I went off the meds in 2001, meditation is incredibly important. So it’s really finding the things that make your life go well and being really honest with yourself about what doesn’t make your life go well and acknowledging, you know, when you are gravitating to doing those things.

Maria Marlowe: [00:50:49] I love that. I love the idea that’s to do and not to do list. And I think those are all really great tips. And I really want to thank you for sharing these things and writing this book, because like I said before, and not a lot of people talk about this, and I think a lot of people can feel very alone and like they’re the only one going through this. But the reality is, so many of us are going through this. So I really appreciate your time and effort to shed some light on this subject and help people find alternatives to boost their brain health and to boost their mood in some organic ways, in ways that do not include pharmaceuticals. So that’s awesome.

Max Goldberg: [00:51:27] Thank you. And it’s not a how to book. It’s a memoir. But this is really the book that I wish. I mean, I would have loved to have a how to as well, but I wasn’t even open to that back then. I just thought everything was gonna go go to normal when I went off. But it’s really the book that I wanted to have back. And I wanted to say, OK, this person, you know what happens when you go off these meds? Now, there’s a lot more awareness now than there was back in 2001, but it’s really the book that I wish I had the time.

Maria Marlowe: [00:51:53] Right. And what is it called and when will it be released?

Max Goldberg: [00:51:57] Well, the working title right now is called Unprepared – Breaking Free from a decade of Anti-depressants. And it will be out later this year.

Maria Marlowe: [00:52:06] That’s awesome. And one last question that I love to ask all of my guests. OK. If you can share just one tip or one piece of advice to live a happier and healthier life, what would that be?

Max Goldberg: [00:52:20] I think out of all the time and hours and energy and money I’ve spent on personal development, I think the number one thing area to be cognizant of is your subconscious, is getting a firm understanding of what your subconscious is telling you. And because I think happiness starts with taming that monster and making sure that you are in control and that your subconscious is not ruling you because our negative chatter starts with our subconscious. By the time we’re thirty five, about ninety five percent of our thoughts are driven by our subconscious. I think happiness really the core of it is starts with, you know, becoming aware of what’s going on in your subconscious mind.

Maria Marlowe: [00:53:09] I love that. Yeah, that’s a topic that actually comes up every once in again on the podcast. And, you know, sometimes it’s also hard to tell like what’s your inner voice and intuition or what’s your, you know, sort of negative self-talk. Right. And this negative chatter. So it’s really important to like get a handle of that and really work on those things that are not serving you and try and get rid of those thoughts that are not serving you and making sure that you’re only feeding your brain and your thoughts and your subconscious with thoughts that are empowering you and gonna help you move forward and be happy versus keep you in a darker, more negative place.

Max Goldberg: [00:53:45] Exactly. And the first step to getting control over your subconscious is literally I mean, it’s a it’s meditation and just becoming aware of your thoughts. And it’s that awareness of what OK, I’ve had all these thoughts today. Wow. I didn’t even realize that, you know, I’m on autopilot all day. It’s literally it’s that becoming aware of how you are thinking, acting and feeling. It’s that awareness is the first step to getting control over it. And, you know, breaking free from its grip on your life.

Maria Marlowe: [00:54:18] And for anyone listening who wants to try meditation, I do have a recent episode with Emily from Ziva Meditation, who is one of the world’s nation’s top meditation expert. So definitely check that out. I’ve been doing her meditation style. I read her book and it’s definitely life changing. I mean, it’s easy to do. So definitely check it out. Anyhoo, Max, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing all of your insights. And for anyone listening, if you want to learn more about organics, definitely check out Max’s site called And he has this great newsletter you can sign up for. That’s going to send you all the latest news and the most important news about organic food. You can also check out his Website called, which has a wealth of information about healthy living and your organic lifestyle. And check out that air purifier site that he mentioned. That’s what livingmaxwell/air

Max Goldberg: [00:55:16] Very good. Great memory. Yeah, that’s it. It’s called the intel up here. And it’s important that people get educated about air quality because it’s sort of like, you know, the organic clothing, it’s coming. It’s sort of it’s the next frontier. Not everyone’s aware of it, but because it’s hard, you can’t see it. But. Yeah. But, Maria, thank you so much for having me on your show. I love what you’re doing and I really appreciate the opportunity.

Maria Marlowe: [00:55:38] Thanks, Max.

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