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Food Babe 101

In the past I’ve pointed out the lies of several more well known celebrities — Dr. Oz, Roseanne Bare, and Carrie Underwood are good examples. But today, the “celebrity” I’m going to tell you about is D-list at best and full of more lies than the charlatan known as Dr. Mercola. This spokesperson though has a ridiculous amount of influence considering her marked lack of any qualifications to even warm up a can of soup (which she would probably tell you is poison anyway).

Of course, I’m talking about Food Babe.

Vani Hari, her real name, holds a degree in computer science from University of North Carolina. Prior to starting her blog, she evidently worked as a independent management consultant for Bank of America. In other words, she has no experience or understanding of food, science, or chemistry.

But these days, she spends her time bullying what she refers to as “Big Food” into bending to her will, even (and especially) when more reputable people state that she’s wrong. Since she started, she’s made some well-known companies change ingredients and cave to her interests, including Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, and Subway. Once she starts a campaign against the company, they routinely sit down with her and discuss her problems. She’s also regularly a guest on morning news shows, which feature her as an “expert” on food issues.

One of Food Babe’s rules is that she won’t eat something if she cannot pronounce all of the ingredients. (What does it mean that I have no idea how to pronounce her name?) Hence, in one of her more well known campaigns, Vani Hari managed to blackmail Subway into removing the chemical known as Azodicarbonamide out of their breads, simply because she could not pronounce the word.

If you aren’t familiar with the chemical, Azodicarbonamide has been used in making bread since 1927. According to Josh Bloom at Science 2.0:

It is used for many things because of exactly one property—when heated it decomposes to a number of gasses, which turn into bubbles and get trapped in the matrix of whatever is being manufactured, giving it a foamy consistency. This is why it is used in bread, yoga mats and hundreds of other things. It is considered to be absolutely safe at low doses.

(Source: Science 2.0) And, as he mentioned, it decomposes when heated, so there was not any of it left in the bread. But Food Babe wasn’t buying into the science (which is pretty much the standard for her). Rather, she launched a campaign that claimed Subway was using the same ingredients in their breads as is used to make yoga mats — and who wants to eat a yoga mat?! Just as she’s done to countless other “big food” companies, she rallied her blog and Facebook followers – her “army” – to overwhelm Subway with phone calls, letters, and complaints.

No doubt you already know that Food Babe won that battle. Subway removed the chemical from their bread, and now they’re running a television commercial letting everyone know that.

Uh oh! Don’t tell Food Babe I’m
consuming beer without knowing
the ingredients!

Most recently, Food Babe has taken on beer producers for the “shocking” ingredients beer contains (you can read more about this fight on Forbes). And she’s asking Starbucks to use only organic milk (labeling anything else as “Monsanto Milk” — what?!) .She’s also a champion for organic food and, obviously, hates GMOs. Oh, and she was also recently voted Dr. Oz’s “healthiest Facebook page.” Now you know she’s a fraud.

The icing on the cake for Vani Hari is that she gets paid for her scare tactics — of course, she denies she does any of this for money. (Yeah, riiight.) When her articles and posts reference a certain organic or non-GMO brand, Food Babe sees dollar signs:

Under the program, known as affiliate marketing, she often posts editorial content praising these small brands, including links to their sites where readers can purchase the goods. She gets a cut of some of the transactions, according to the rules explained on some of her partners’ websites. Ms. Hari also sells “eating guides” for $17.99 a month and charges for speaking appearances.

(Source: Advertising Age)  Food Babe also has a few other ways to make a few bucks, as discussed in the article. In fact, she’s so successful at shaming companies, she was able to quit her full time job a few years ago, and now makes her income from being the queen of fear.

Oh, and she’s also ridiculously talented at snapping photos of herself eating something green and laughing it up.

Her Facebook page has nearly half a million followers and she shows no sign of slowing down, cleaning up her act, or learning anything about science. The sad fact is, there are a lot of people that trust this woman. Her “army” is comprised of people that believe “big food” is poisoning us and using ingredients that will kill us, all so they can make a buck. Try to point out the truth and her army, much like Food Babe, doesn’t care.

Food Babe is accountable to absolutely no one. Whatever harebrained idea she comes up with is the next big issue, whether she understands the ingredient or not. She’ll fire up the shocking blog articles, sick her army on them, and put another notch on her organic carrot stick.

As Joe Schwarcz asked:

When you have a plumbing problem you call a plumber. When you have an electrical problem, you call an electrician. When you have an automobile problem, you consult a mechanic. Why then, when it comes to a food-related issue, which is inherently more complex, would one turn to the Food Babe?


(I doubt it will amount to much, but if you’re interested, you can sign a White House petition here. The petition encourages the federal government to investigate Vani Hari for racketeering.)

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