There’s a pretty face in the world of food and nutrition. Her name? Vani Hari, or better known as the Food Babe. She started her online company FoodBabe.com in 2011 to “spread information about what is really in the American food supply.” She is young, pretty and savvy. Her background? Based on what she writes, you would think her college degree is in nutrition, food or health. But no, she is a computer programmer. . .
Not only does she run her online business (she has over 650,000 Facebook followers called the FoodBabeArmy and also works with affiliate markets where she receives monetary compensation), but she has also appeared on numerous TV shows including, The Doctors, Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Good Morning America, etc. talking about finding “hidden chemicals” in the foods we eat and how she has pressured companies into taking them out. She instills fear and outrage in consumers, who are mostly women, and bullies food companies into taking these chemicals out. On the surface you would tend to agree with her, but please read on to learn more about “the other side.”
Here are 10 things I wish the Food Babe knew:
Just because a chemical (remember everything is made from chemicals) is in a food item doesn’t mean that particular chemical is poison. If you use that analogy then water (hydrogen and oxygen) is poisonous. If you drink too much water, it will kill you. The dosage makes the poison, not the chemical itself. And . . . your statement that if you can’t pronounce a name, it must be bad for you. Do you know the ingredient list of a banana (noted in graphic)? Can you pronounce all of these names? Probably not. But with your analogy, bananas are bad for us. You take advantage of consumers’ chemical illiteracy and make false claims. The result? Unnecessary fear.
(2) Stop bullying companies.
One of your most notable “finds” was a chemical found in yoga mats is also in Subway’s bread. It is common for different chemicals to be used in many unrelated products/foods. Refer to #1 – Again, Everything is made of chemicals. Companies have a brand to protect and having any negative (even if it’s not true) attention can be detrimental to their company. Let’s face it, companies fear you because of the bad press you can give them, even if your claims are outright untrue. It may feel good to have that power, but it’s just unethical and at times mean spirited.
(3) I wish you knew more about science.
Please consider taking some classes or better yet, learn and ask questions from scientists. Don’t ban them from your site, which you do. Have a conversation and enlighten yourself with these scientists. And share this information with your followers. And speaking of science, doesn’t it seem a bit hypocritical to embrace medical biotechnology advancements, but demonize the same biotechnology when we use it in food? Insulin, which is used by millions daily, is a genetically engineered substance. I hear absolutely zero protest about people using insulin.
(4) I wish you knew more about factory farms.
I wish you knew that “factory farms” are really family farms. 96% of so called “factory farms” are family owned. By asking your readers to boycott factory farms, you are asking them to boycott families who farm and care for animals every single day. Why do you feel it’s wrong for family farmers to use technology and improved efficiencies, which result in better care for their animals?
(5) I wish you knew more about biotech.
Yes, consumers should have choice. But to make a choice, consumers need facts so they can make up their own minds. Do you and your followers know that biotech crops go through a lot of “hurdles” before they are introduced to the market? Potential biotech crops go through rigorous testing and need to be approved by the FDA, EPA and USDA. It takes an average of 13-15 years and $136,000,000 for one seed to be market ready.
(6) I wish you would stop banning people from your Facebook page.
I know, it’s your very mission to not allow others in your “bubble world” if they don’t agree with you. But you are banning anyone who asks a legitimate question or disagrees with you. Let’s be honest. People want and deserve “both sides of the story.” By opening your Facebook page back up, your credibility will increase 10 fold.
(7) I wish you would show respect for experts in the field of science.
To mock well-known scientists that do not share your viewpoint results in your lack of credibility, especially since you don’t have the credentials to mock him. For you to say, “Will someone please explain what genetic modification is to this famous scientist?” to Neil deGrasse Tyson, really is a little crazy on your part.
(8) I wish you knew that correlation does not mean causation.
Again, this is a basic science fact. Enough said.
(9) I wish you knew there is an increasing awareness of the growing business model you are creating that results in your monetary compensation for products you endorse.
Yes, you are profiting by working with affiliate marketing companies that you promote on your site.
(10) I wish you knew the benefit of connecting with farm women.
Women who work with their animals and farms every day, women who work tirelessly raising and growing food for families, and frankly, women who you are directly and indirectly working against. I know, farmers are only 1-2% of the population so we are easy to ignore. But that makes us no less important. Believe me when I say, we have more in common than not. We may not be “Food Babes” but we are in our own way, “Farm Babes” who work tirelessly feeding families. Please reach out to us.
Additional Blog Links:
Food Babe 101 by the Farmer’s Daughter