An interesting article in Friday’s edition of The New York Times. The Grey Lady decided to profile food activist Vani Hari (aka Food Babe) but raised some little known points that call into question her credibility. I highly doubt that Hari’s die-hard fans will be phased about the fact that their favorite food guru has been caught making huge errors in judgement, but they certainly deserved to be singled out.
The Times reveals that while she is very influential on the internet, Hari’s statements are often incorrect and scientists accuse her of being scientifically illiterate. Science-Based Medicine has gone so far as to label Vani Hari as the Jenny McCarthy of Food due to the fear and paranoia she spins. She freely uses the word chemical in order to warn people about toxins but one scientist points out how she avoids the natural toxins in fruits and vegetables.
“Peach pits, for example, are very natural, but they contain cyanide,” said Fergus M. Clydesdale, a professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts. “Oranges have methanol, which is very toxic. And we’ve been eating those for thousands of years.” Professor Clydesdale also pointed out that the body is made of chemicals, and that we eat partly to replenish those chemicals with chemicals from food.
Naturally, Hari dismisses her critics by accusing them of being part of the processed food lobby or industry-funded science. According to The Times, she claims that when she got ill she turned to more natural remedies which helped her get off meds and her asthma and allergies disappeared in about four years. She has also suggested people lie to restaurant servers about allergies so they can avoid genetically modified foods. She also makes huge sums of money peddling fear and pseudoscience too:
Ms. Hari usually profits, promoting expensive alternatives for which she receives Amazon affiliate commissions. (Making a percentage off referrals is a common moneymaker for blogs.) Ms. Hari, who also sells eating guides ($17.99 a month) with “approved brands,” said her methods were “bad business.”
Kevin M. Folta, the chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, described Ms. Hari’s lecture at the university last October as a “corrupt message of bogus science and abject food terrorism.” (Her fee was $6,000.) Dr. Folta added, “She found that a popular social media site was more powerful than science itself, more powerful than reason, more powerful than actually knowing what you’re talking about.”
All Food Babe is is a conspiracy canard who is seeking to make money and gain fame off of the fears of others. She doesn’t have any scientific background but makes it a point to try to insert herself into the complex world of nutrition and chemical science. Van Hari implants into people’s minds the concept of chemicals being bad even though most (if not all) of the chemicals in our food are at levels safe for consumption or are not unhealthy at all.
I have it on information that soon after The New York Times ran its article about her, Hari is either deleting or marking comments critical of her as spam on her Facebook page so her critics’ comments can’t be seen by her page participants. She also has accused Astrophysicist and GMO defender Neil DeGrasse Tyson of being unqualified to talk about foods but Hari has a degree in computer science and doesn’t listen to scientists anyway. Simply put, Vani Hari is a fraud and it is high time she be held accountable for her actions and, simultaneously, get a real job rather than promoting misrepresentations if not outright lies.