Evolution of Food Babe: From misguided consumer advocate to crude bully

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Vani Hari, better known as “Food Babe,” is a self-proclaimed investigator of food and consumer advocate. Yet, some of her so-called investigations have been based in little to no evidence, while most of the rest of her claims are outright drivel. She has made her mark in an all-too-easy exploitation of public fear of the “unnatural,” distrust of establishment and love for fads.

As expected, her opposition has been growing. Scientists and skeptics have begun criticizing Hari’s assertions. Within the last several months, the frequency of articles, blog posts and social media opposition has skyrocketed.

I’m a mother and science writer, and I’ve been critical of Hari’s work over the last several months. I am not a scientist by the traditional definition. I don’t have a PhD., nor have I authored peer-reviewed research publications. Still, I have a unique perspective afforded by the intersection of a sound working knowledge of genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics. I’ve garnered this knowledge being raised by a molecular biologist, working for a small private-sector genomics R&D company, and via coursework and extensive reading on the subject.

In addition to writing on the subjects of feminism, atheism, and biotechnology in agriculture and medicine, I took on the position of spokesperson for Chow Babe, an open social media critic of Food Babe. While Chow Babe is a parody of Food Babe, she has gained a following of nearly ten thousand people sharing one common notion – that Vani Hari is a charlatan without evidence for her propaganda.

Maria Godoy of NPR’s “The Salt” took notice and contacted me and a few scientists to discuss scientific backlash against Food Babe. Considering that NPR is a renowned and reputable organization, I gladly obliged. Over the weekend–shortly after the piece was published and after declining to be interviewed for the NPR piece–Food Babe lashed out at her critics.

Food Babe refers to me as follows (and yes, I’ll explain why I know she’s talking about me specifically):

“Seemingly reputable news organizations like NPR (in a blog post titled “Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out”) even linked to the hate groups – quoting one of their spokespeople and repeated their ridiculous and biased messages as if they have any merit.”

I am the only one quoted in the NPR piece with the title of “spokesperson.” (For more information, see Chow Babe’s post describing how I became her spokesperson in late October.) Therefore, it’s obvious that Food Babe is referring to me. As with all of the individuals she criticizes in her response, she is too cowardly to call me by name for fear of having to engage in extensive discourse. Also, it’s likely that she’s been advised to refrain from naming her foes to avoid liability.

Although this isn’t the first letter I’ve written to Food Babe, here is my personal response:

Dear Vani,

Scientists, skeptics, farmers, and science writers like me have given you ample occasions to have civil debates. Not once have you taken the opportunity to do so. Nevertheless, I will continue to reach out with the hope that you’ll agree to a direct dialogue.

Yes, I happen to be Chow Babe’s spokesperson, but first and foremost I’m an outspoken writer challenging unscientific and misleading propaganda. Early on in my criticism of scientific misinformation, I noticed you perhaps unintentionally misleading your followers on the subject of cancer. For example, you once asked your readers whether eating the “best foods on the planet” and avoiding environmental toxins would prevent cancer in an individual with a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation. In short, this notion is completely erroneous. The likelihood of breast or ovarian cancer is very high with these specific hereditary mutations, and your suggestions to avoid a cancer diagnosis are mere wishful thinking. Here is my piece criticizing your stance on BRCA mutations in detail.

In addition, you frequently demonize so-called carcinogens without scientific basis. For instance, you demonize group 2b carcinogens like carrageenan. Carrageenan is categorized as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” yet you happily post selfies drinking alcoholic beverages. You must know that wine, beer, and spirits are classified by the IARC as group 1 carcinogens, meaning they are known to cause cancer in humans. You discuss cancer often on your blog, yet it’s painfully clear that you don’t understand how carcinogenesis works even at the most basic level.

This brings me to my next point. You state in your response that one doesn’t need a PhD to be a consumer advocate or food investigator, and that “just because you have a degree, doesn’t make you right.”

Indeed, I wholeheartedly agree that one doesn’t need a PhD to discourse about food and food-related science. Nevertheless, I always believe that it’s critical to draw from mainstream experts. Claims need to be supported by the broad weight of empirically based studies and not just reflect someone’s opinion or a one-off study that fits preconceived notions. To blithely abandon the scientific consensus to embrace views considered unscientific by the most reputable science bodies in the United States and world suggests ideology and activism for its own sake, and not science. At minimum one needs a solid grasp of the science behind claims in order to be credible.

You do not appear to understand what a “science experiment” means as distinct from pure opinion; what you deem “personal experience.” You state the following:

“I know with my own body, that eliminating food additives was one of the best decisions I ever made — before that I was on several prescription drugs, felt and looked awful. I have more energy now than I did 10 years ago, 10 years older! – How is that possible if there isn’t something to all of this healthy eating? Or more directly, to eliminating the chemicals that major food companies have yet to justify to us with any explanation.

Others without a PhD have also conducted the same experiments, using their bodies and personal experience, and have come to a similar conclusion.

I use a variety of published scientific papers, interviews with experts, studies and opinions from noteworthy and respected public interest groups in my writings (they are usually blue hyperlinked throughout my posts). We are still learning the impacts of the food we eat – much of it hasn’t even been studied – thousands of chemicals in our food supply remain untested. So much new information is being discovered every single day.”

Vani, using one’s body and personal experience does not a science experiment make, no matter what the self-proclaimed “conclusion.” A valid experiment must be conducted under controlled conditions with a clear hypothesis, and confounding factors must be minimized. For the results to be compelling, they must be reproducible. In other words, you need confirming independent studies by reputable scientists.

As Carl Sagan once said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. The evidence you cite to corroborate your extraordinary claims is far from extraordinary; indeed it’s dicey and weak. The so-called credentialed experts you cite may have PhDs, yet this makes them no less wrong. There is no body of evidence to support their claims and they are not primary researchers in these fields. You take dubious or totally fabricated findings, almost always unscientific and often anecdotal, and tout them as alarming, scary truth. If this isn’t unscientific fear-mongering, I don’t know what is.

I was shocked and heartbroken to see you conflating my message and those of my comrades with the hateful, and violently misogynistic messages you’ve received. You call me the spokesperson for a “hate group,” yet I’m a feminist, skeptical and above all else compassionate writer. Many women have been targets of misogyny online. Internet misogyny is a scourge that we all should continue to combat together. I too have been targeted, told that I’m “poisoning” my children and that it will be my fault if they ever suffer a terminal illness. In addition, I’m Indian-American just like you, and have always defended you against ignorant racist remarks, in part because I know how it feels.

While these attacks are deplorable, they are irrelevant to the majority of sensible, scientific and civil backlash against your work. Conflating misogyny with relevant opposition is underhanded. You are using this in an attempt to derail the entire conversation–a public conversation in which you’ve never even been willing to engage. You’re throwing yourself a pity party and inviting your entire army.

VaniLetter

An email sent by Ms. Hari to her email subscribers

The fact is you have refused to engage with reasonable critics of your writings–the misinformation, sometimes dangerous, that you spread so carelessly. Being critical of your campaigns does not make someone hateful. I’ll repeat, it’s hurtful and offensive to paint all of your opponents with a “hate group” brush. Peruse the 4000+ members of the Banned by Food Babe group and read the comments. These are not the comments of a hate group.

Vani, you exemplify the most condemnable misogynistic attacks as representative of your opponents. None of the people or organizations you lambast in your post condone these awful attacks. Yet, you personally are responsible for unsubstantiated, utterly fabricated ad hominem attacks against many of us, and to which I’ve been subjected all too often–the “shill” gambit.

Not everyone who is critical of you is automatically a shill for Big Ag or Big Biotech. Unfounded accusation of shilling is based in ignorance and disingenuousness. This is an empty tactic. If any of us truly has a “financial incentive” to oppose you, please, produce tangible evidence, don’t just spew rhetoric.

How is Dr. Kevin Folta, department chair of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida, one of the most independent of scientists in the world with no industry connections making money from the biotech industry and Monsanto? How are Chow Babe, Science Babe, Food Hunk or I profiting from criticizing your views? Produce evidence.

Vani, I implore you to stop name-calling and throwing tantrums, and to respond to the relevant questions posed to you. And if you disagree, rather than retreat into your echo-chamber of support, venture out and engage with critics. We’re all willing and eager to dialogue, in public, and in any forum of your choosing.

Sincerely,

Mother, Feminist and Science Advocate,

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy is a contributor at Genetic Literacy Project and other sites. She works for a genomics/bioinformatics R&D in Madison, WI. She loves all things genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics. Her interests span the human and agricultural realms. Opinions expressed are her own and do not reflect her employer. Follow Kavin on Facebook, Twitter @ksenapathy and Google +

 

Additional Resources:

  • Sinclair

    How do you feel about being a spokesperson for a group that called Food Babe a TWAT multiple times?

    • Chow Babe

      I’m gonna call bull on that one. A group didn’t call her anything and that word isn’t in my vocabulary. I let adults post as adults – and when things went too far, I shut it down. Always. I haven’t banned many people but nearly every person on my ban list is there BECAUSE they stepped out of line and said something sexist. Like calling me or Vain Hair something that rhymes with punt. Now, how about you deal with what Kavin actually wrote.

      • Chow Babe

        Me. After I banned someone for a misogynistic attack on Food Babe.

    • Harry Phillips

      Evidence please, I follow Chow Babe and have never seen them do that.

      • Chow Babe

        That is not a word I use. I detest that word. But for maybe a day or two 6 or 7 months ago, that word was fashionable on the page. I shut it down and told people to stop using it because I didn’t like it.

    • Marc Audsley

      Sinclair: There are bad apples in every group. Like Hari’s follower who said that people who disagree should drink poison and die. The best we can do is sideline those people and move onto to a proper debate without the name calling (shill included).

    • some_guy_1

      Sinclair, those pearls you’re trying to clutch are made up of CHEMIKILLS!!!1!1!!!

      Also, thanks for validating the part of the article about how Food Babe (OMG, TEH OBJECTIFICATION!!1!1!) and her minions are trying to use a few inappropriate comments as a shield to disregard a large amount of valid criticism.

      • biotechreader

        I keep asking myself: Why would any mature, serious, self-respecting woman who is trying to make a point (albeit hers are goofy and unscientific) call herself
        “Food Babe” ? Does she really honestly want to be seen as a “babe” rather than as a person with credibility? Does she really want to infantalize herself with these types of titles and drama-queen revelations about “OMG! I feel soooooo much better since I stopped eating that poison!” ?? Is that how she really, truly wants to come across?

    • Victoria

      I adore the word “twat”. Perhaps being the daughter of an English immigrant mother has a lot to do with that. I also happen to be rather fond of “the c-word” (out of respect for Kavin and others, I shall leave it at that). My fondness for both of those words would never, not for one moment, cause me to lose sight of why we have come together and why we do what we do. We are here in defense of science. We are not here because it’s some sort of virtual homeroom and it’s time to talk about who was doing what at the dance on Saturday. Though I love those two words, I’ve never called Vani Hari either one; not even offline. Why in the world would I? I’ve zero interest in what Vani Hari is like as a person, I’m only interested in Food Babe, LLC and the false and dangerous information her corporate persona dishes out.
      Occasionally, rarely, someone will come waltzing in and flex their limited vocabulary and add absolutely nothing to the discussion by throwing out some names or some racist, sexist, and/or vulgar comments and they are always met with an overwhelming backlash from us. They don’t find an audience with us. What they, and perhaps you, seem to forget is that we are a group of science nerds. We KNOW what bullying is all about and, no. No more never again not on our watch. Though they’re there, we don’t need page rules and guidelines for that, excepting the very few rotten apples, we know better. Furthermore, I have yet to see a page with a double standard as can be found on the pages which defend Vani Hari/Food Babe, LLC from personal attacks while simultaneously lobbing unfounded and scathing accusations against those who challenge her. And they are praised for doing it.

      • Voice of tReason

        That’s funny. I have a similar affinity for the word and similarly due to my British heritage (of course, pronounced to rhyme with cat) and generally synonymous with idiot.
        Now I think on, I believe I only ever refer to males as twats.
        I may have stooped to referring to Vani as an idiot once or twice but that’s my assessment as an empiricist 🙂

    • Belles

      Ooh ooh ooh! A Food Babe supporter ON A SCIENCE SITE! Get out of the comments and go read! You’re in a wonderland here – don’t waste it trolling. This site is awesome!

    • Kenneth Conroy

      By your rules, the entire Food Babe Army has called us all (including me, personally) names like “retard,” “asshole,” and “moron.” Just to name a few of the more *polite* insults. And, interestingly, abusive comments like these on Food Babe’s page are left up – if they’re in support of her cause – despite what Food Babe claims her moderation policies are.

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      Groups don’t call people twats. Individuals call people twats.

    • Florida Farmer

      How do you feel about representing a group that extols scientific illiteracy and says crude/nasty things to others? It’s almost as if groups are composed of individuals who may or may not say things, without any endorsement from or by the group as a whole.

  • Bob Akimbo

    Three thumbs up! (I’m genetically modified.)

  • Jen Phillips

    Count me as another passionate mother, feminist, and science advocate who deplores sexist and misogynistic attacks, but who steadfastly believes that science-based information is critical to making intelligent choices about personal and public health.

  • Red_Ruffensor

    Of course we’re being paid. Monsanto has agreed to pay off my mortgage if I make just one comment, so here it is. Thanks, Monsanto!

    • Monsantopaidshill

      Wow! Monsanto has offered to pay of MY mortgage, too! And my boat! And buy me a personal jet!
      All for saying “Monsanto produces genetically engineered seeds that farmers buy because of increased yields and fewer / less toxic pesticides.”
      It’s FUNNNN being a paid shill!

      • Damo

        But all those things are true…why would Monsanto have to pay you?

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      Well damn, I defend GMOs for free. More fool me, huh?!

      • monsantopaidshill

        Rosalind — Your check’s in the mail. (you said the shill words “defend GMOs” — that’s worth a mortgage payment at least, right?)

        • Rosalind Dalefield

          Thanks for your help! I’ll check my letterbox in eager anticipation! 😀

    • Kendall

      Monsanto owns my seed, I am here only because of implicit threats. You are the best, Monsanto.

    • Bliss

      Good for you! Now you can have some GMO seeds spill into your garden!

  • some_guy_1

    Odd how a few goofy misogynistic comments from random folks (like the idiot calling her a “Food Babe”) isn’t as bad as Mike Adams’ advocating his followers mass murder folks and, uhm, well, whatever it is that Alex Jones is going on and on and on about (I think it has to do with Lizard People) and Vani Hari has no problems affiliating with those reprobates.

    • Chloë

      She started calling herself the Food Babe …

      • yougottabekiddin’

        And that just about explains everything you need to know about her! ha!

      • Rosalind Dalefield

        She herself decided she is a ‘babe’? Wow, how conceited is that?
        I wonder what she plans to call herself when she gets a bit older and no longer qualifies as a ‘babe’?

        • marcdraco

          Food Babe was (she says) a moniker suggested by her husband. We’ll never know the truth.

  • Victoria

    First and foremost, Kavin, you are made from 99&44/100% pure awesome! Brava!
    …onward…
    I have to start by saying that absolutely nothing is acceptable, justifiable, or excusable about any personal attack. Not the ones directed towards her or you or Science Babe or Chow Babe or Dr. Folta, or me. No excuse. Having said that, I’m sick to death of her victim shtick. She needs to decide which it’s going to be. She can’t complain about being a victim of these attacks in one paragraph and then a few paragraphs later be on the giving end of baseless attacks against others. In addition, continuing to have her name and likeness on the masthead of websites and social media sites where she allows others to lob these personal attacks is unacceptable. Where Science Babe and Chow Babe are quick to remedy anyone posting personal attacks, Vani does nothing – even with a large team of admins, it goes completely unchecked. The message sent is that a double standard is firmly in place.
    …further…
    Not all are good at it but a common trait amongst scientists is that we love to teach. It’s heartbreaking to me that such a divide, an angry and unnecessary divide has been created. And for what? Pride? Fear? The wisest thing a person can do is know when they are out of their depth and seek guidance from someone wiser. If you’ve stepped in it, raise your hand and say so and then pay close attention to the person or persons who help you out. I think there’s a huge misunderstanding in that Vani Hari’s supporters, and perhaps Vani herself, think we are out to prove her wrong. That may be the case for some people, for sure but if the person is a true scientists, that isn’t the goal at all. I certainly don’t want to prove her wrong, I want her to learn what is right. It’s a massive difference.

    • Ok, I have to STRONGLY disagree with you here. I mean……what the heck is it with denying Kavin the last .56% awesomeness? Is that statistically significant? Personally, I think we need to round that up to 100% awesomeness.

      • Victoria

        It was a reference to the old Ivory Soap adverts. Ivory Soap being 99&44/100% pure (what, I don’t know) – so pure it floats!

        • Really? I guess I either didn’t know about that commercial or forgot. All is forgiven. 🙂

      • Rosalind Dalefield

        It’s just an allowance for analytical error. In practical terms, the awesomeness of Kavin is 100%

        • Ahhhh, in that case I retract my disagreement. LOL

    • bioscience

      Victoria, narcissists always whine get petulant and do the victim thing. (“They’re out to get me” whining that she constantly does, waa waa waa) They don’t want to learn what is right, unfortunately. The best thing is to step around them and talk to other people with more curiosity about science and how the world really works. She’s an archaic dinosaur digging her own tar pit with her own shovel of ignorance combined with arrogance.

      • mustardtigress

        It would be easier to just ignore her if her influence wasn’t so pervasive. We all exist and communicate within in a combination of social, academic, professional and ‘virtual’ lives, and when we see our own peers or various family and friends falling for the FB’s schtick, we can’t help but be compelled to seek out and challenge the source responsible for that proselytization.

    • Bliss

      Are you joking? Science Babe and Chow Babe are complete and utter hacks and very offensive. Vari makes no perrsonal attacks. She does not feel the need, unlike you people.

      • agscienceliterate

        Poor ignorant Bliss. You have no idea how much Vain Hair throws people off her website the second they post anything science-y or in any way not in complete agreement with the utterly unscientific garbage she spews. Sounds like you have a thing for her, and justify everything she says. Well, you’re in good company. How about going over there to post? Your ignorance is getting pretty tiring over here.

  • conspiracygirl

    I’m not a feminist but I do deplore all threats of violence towards anyone — male or female — as well as suggestions that children deserve to die for eating food that Vani Hari doesn’t like, or doesn’t get a kickback from. I am incensed at the ignorant and dangerous “advice” Vani Hari gives to her equally uneducated audience, who for some irrational reason have chosen to trust her.

    She appears to be completely unaware of her own level of ignorance, which is how she can confidently spout off inanities without bothering to do the least amount of fact-checking. She also appears to have no capacity for self reflection, which is how she can literally shill for so many products, with the evidence right on her page, while accusing thousands of strangers of being paid by Monsanto without any evidence to be found anywhere.

    • farmsense

      Conspiracygirl, that’s what makes her so dangerous: combining ignorance with the arrogance that she doesn’t need to do fact-checking. Horrible wars have been started with less.

      She loves being a “diva,” and is shamelessly self-promoting. I feel very sorry for her. Once she loses her cute looks and starts aging, and science has thoroughly dumped her, she’s gonna be nowhere. It’s sad.

  • Well said, Kavin. I’m also a mom, farmer’s wife and don’t feel pressured to cave to fear to feed my children more expensive, not-anymore-healthy organic food, and I constantly get called a bad mom and that I will end up “slowly poisoning” my children. Oh, I’m also a Monsanto Shill Mom too, as I’m so often told.

    I also noted as I skimmed through Food Babe’s whiny novel of a blog post that she (as always) didn’t cite any of her claims (correct me if I’m wrong). As an advocate for agriculture and science and encouraging critical thinking among my readers, I’m constantly criticized for not providing enough “proof” to support my claims from my opponents. I take pride in researching and interviewing experts in said areas that I’m writing about, yet Vani doesn’t need to provide even 1 reputable source when she makes her allegations.

    I truly hope this is the beginning of the end of the Food Babe. Promoting dangerous eating habits and encouraging her readers to make homemade formula from raw milk with the help of the Healthy Home Economist’s recipe, she is going to hurt someone, it’s inevitable.

  • Bill Pilacinski

    I’m new to this discussion and was looking for some science. I haven’t seen any yet.

    • Jen Phillips

      Bill, this particular article is more about science communication, and internet behavior, but just to the right of the title you’ll see a long list of articles under “more from this author” and “more from this source” headings. Those links will take you to articles with plenty of science. Virtually all of them contain embedded links to source materials. I encourage you to check them out.

    • Florida Farmer

      Do you often expect to find X in an article where the topic is clearly Y? Seems an odd way to go about things.

    • bioscience

      Welcome, Bill! GLP has tons of science references in different articles. You will be amazed! (real science, not pseudo-hype)

  • From reading this article, my impression is that you are no more qualified to speak on this matter than the Food Babe. This article reads like an attack.I don’t follow her but at least she is on the side of advocating for less chemicals in our food.

    • Ripshed

      She never claimed to have any special credentials; she only claimed to have the facts and knowledge of the topics on her side derived from her education and work experience.

      As for chemicals: everything is a chemical. It’s a nonsensical argument. Argue against specific chemicals, not the concept of chemicals.

    • Jeff

      Food IS chemicals. Jeez!

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      Less chemicals in our food? So you want less minerals, vitamins, lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins in our food?

    • Nina Nonarchi

      No she’s not an advocate for “less chemicals” (say what?). She says nothing about the “chemicals” that organic farmers use. She says nothing about the process of creating organic seeds (mutagenesis; chemical and/or irradiation of seeds to produce random mutations — don’t trust me, look it up yourself).
      She is an advocate only for … herself.

    • Florida Farmer

      No, she’s an advocate for woo and her bank account.

    • Loren Eaton

      Right. I suppose you don’t want any DNA in there, either.

    • Canadian_Skeptic

      June, there is a distinct difference between criticizing someone’s claims and attacking someone personally. Pseudoscientists, like Vani Hari, like to conflate the two as this is their only means to respond to legitimate criticism.

    • I’m really tired of being told, like you are to Kavin, that I’m “no more qualified to speak on this matter than the Food Babe.” Credentials-wise? Perhaps not, but we back up our claims with science, we don’t make it up.

      • Kavin Senapathy

        Precisely. We understand the subject-matter, we consult with experts that are qualified to interpret research findings, and above all else do not make unsubstantiated claims.

        • agsciencelogic

          And that diligence is very much appreciated. Thanks, Kavin.

    • brian_x

      It reads like an attack because it is an attack. A well-deserved one at that; Vani Hari presents herself as an expert, but demonstrates an incredibly poor understanding about basic things like the composition of the atmosphere. She wrote a very widely disseminated “expose” on beer that was so poorly researched that it could be refuted by picking up a basic homebrewing book at any given bookstore. She don’t know nothin about nothin, and deserves ridicule, not money.

      • nina nonarchi

        It’s sad … before the age of internet and blogs, she would have been out on the streets, spouting her “drivel” as Gavin accurately calls it, in subway stations and street corners, and we would have been pitching nickels into her can, out of pity. Now, she gets paid for this stuff. That’s what makes it sad, that people pay her for this drivel. A shill for drivel.

    • Frank

      Sorry, but why is that a good side to be on exactly?

  • Shana DC

    Thank you so much for your anti food babe advocacy, which is so important with her unfortuately ever increasing popularity. I am very glad to see the media and scientific organizations speaking out against a dangerous con artist giving out potentially life threatening misinformation regarding serious health issues such as cancer and infectious diseases.

    • sciencereader

      “Unfortunately ever increasing popularity” …. yes, exactly! But then, she IS competing with Kim Kardashian.

  • agsciencelogic

    I feel sorry for Vani. She shows all the symptoms of classical narcissism; whiney, petulant, blames others for her mishaps and misspeaks, gaslights (by making presumptive statements about others’ behaviors and what they REALLY meant), playing “victim,” and grandstanding. Folks, she gets PAID to troll for both organic food, and for ignorance. Pretty kool job, if you can get one like that! Oh, yeah; ethics…. I guess we wouldn’t want a job like that after all.

  • biosmart

    Vani lacks the one single characteristic that could give her a smidgen of credibility: open-minded curiosity.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      And considering that is the one main human trait that makes us what we are, I posit that Vani is not human.

      • biosmart

        Sterling: Right! It’s also the incredibly flippant and dismissive arrogance she has. So many people like her have just slammed the door to their “thinking piece” of their brains shut. Like the ole saying “My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with facts.”
        My rebuttal to that attitude is “You have the right to your own opinion, but you don’t have the right to your own facts.”

  • biosmart

    Excellent analysis, Kavin. You shine a light under a very slimy rock. Thank you.

  • Great piece, Kavin. Thank you for being the voice of reason.

  • wlinden

    Alcohol
    is a CHEMICAL! and it is used for disinfectants, solvents, fuels, and
    for PRESERVING SPECIMENS, so by Foodbabe logic, it is poison!

    • seriously

      Perfect response, wlinden! And I love the oxymoron “Foodbabe logic” !

    • some_guy_1

      There is also deoxyribonucleic acid in foods, the same stuff that is in poop, AIDS, cancer, and Ebola!

  • Just another food gestapo like Moochelle Obummer

    • Why is there always that one person who has to go completely off the subject and make a statement about another person/place/thing that has nothing to do with the subject at hand? I see this a lot and I’m not saying you’re wrong for posting this, I’d just like to know why you would and why you would expect this comment to be taken as anything other than a total “WTF does this comment have to do with anything” comment? Is it really that essential to get your presidential slurs into something? Do you think that anyone will read that comment and say, “WOW! Kini is right! I coulda hadda V8!!”

      • :/

      • Because it’s one and the same thing, don’tcha think? Wait, don’t answer that, you don’t think.

      • agsciencelogic

        Thank you, Laurrie, for calling out that most inappropriate and irrelevant comment.

  • mustardtigress

    Thank you, Kavin Senapathy, for articulating the most cogent and (com)passionate response to FB’s latest antics I’ve read yet.

    • Kavin Senapathy

      Thank you!

  • “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair
    That said, I suspect Hari understands that most of her assertions have no evidence behind them. It’s just that the salary is just too large to pass up. If just one percent of her site’s visitors spend money there, she’s a wealthy woman.

  • morelambchops

    Yes yes and yes!!! Well done, Kavin! Keep fighting this good fight!! As a farmer, I’m so happy there’s people like you out there who are speaking the truth. I wish I could give you a big hug right now!! Bravo. 🙂

    • Kavin Senapathy

      A virtual hug will have to do for now 🙂

  • Food Babe’s Former Friend

    I’d like to make a few points as Vani’s former friend. Ad hominem arguments are not generally unacceptable or incorrect in an argument. Though I certainly don’t support misogynistic or threatening comments against Vani, bringing the question of her character to light does not represent a fallacious argument. In fact, such arguments are even made in courts of law.

    Vani has demonstrated a pattern of behavior where she deliberately states and defends positions that are unequivocally false. I am not referring to theories, but known facts. For example, her writing suggests that the composition of the air we breathe is 100% oxygen, which it is not. In fact, approximately 20% of the air at sea level is oxygen. She has also written that chlorophyll is a product of light, an element and a living organism. Of course, it is none of those things. It is is a pigment, commonly found in plants and an important component of photosynthesis. Naturally, there are dozens more examples one could cite, but these two are representative.

    This leads to a non-fallacious and legitimate ad hominem argument against her work. Specifically, Vani must either be an idiot or a liar. It’s that simple. Vani’s statements suggest that she lacks the basic scientific competency of approximately a 5th grader. If such statements truly reflect her synthesized understanding of the world, she must be an idiot or a person with a severe mental or learning disability. I, through my personal relationship with her, know that’s not true. I believe she is a liar and her lies support her agenda. For example, her writing on the composition of air included clear statements that airlines deliberately pump less oxygen into passenger cabins to save money. This is indisputably incorrect, but panders to fear-mongering related to big business which she leverages quite successfully in her so-called investigations. Similarly, her comments on chlorophyll were in regard to a drink that she was promoting on her website. Certainly, drinking “light energy,” an “element” and “living natural ingredients” is substantially sexier than drinking a natural and common pigment from plants.

    Interestingly, Vani clearly engages in fallacious and illegitimate ad hominem attacks as cited in this article. For example, to my knowledge, via public disclosure and by his own writing, Dr. Folta of the U. of Florida is not financially supported by Monsanto. Nonetheless, Vani has stated so and not retracted that statement. She has done so to discredit this critic of hers to her so-called Food Babe Army. This behavior further supports a repetitive pattern of lying.

    My conclusion is that Vani has become, and is, a pathological liar where her lies are synthesized to mislead the public for personal financial gain while feeding her unbridled narcissism. This assessment presents a constructive, defensible and non-fallacious ad hominem argument against her work. Consequently, all of her statements ought to considered through the lens of this true character of hers. Nearly all should be dismissed.

    Good work Kavin.

    Yours truly,

    A Ph.D. in Biochemistry and former friend of Vani’s for over 16 years who is now disgusted by the human being she has become.

    P.S. Vani, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your own father has a Ph.D.

    • Engineering Student

      This is a freaking great comment, but holy crap, I never made this connection: I think Food Babe’s father is a professor at my University. Does he know about all of this anti-science crap she spouts? Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong person.

      • Concerned for humanity

        I went to High School with her. She was never wrong. Ever.

        • tjvilot

          That’s because you are stupid.

        • agscienceliterate

          Narcissists never are. Think Trump.

        • Bliss

          and? does that trait bug you? Are GMO “scientists” ever wrong?

      • Bliss

        Go eat your “science”. Why not ask him yourself, you coward.

        • agscienceliterate

          Bliss, your anger is really not very pretty. Get a grip. Get over yourself. You hate it when other people have credible ideas, and when you don’t.

          • Bliss

            Anger? I am laughing at how stupid these comments are. Like a bunch of monkeys nodding in agreement and then attacking anything different. LOL.

    • She is a Liar

      Yep, her father is on the engineering faculty at UNCC. It’s in a different article. He must be so proud. Apart from that, I love this post. It’s spot on. We have to move away from attacking what we all know is incorrect. It’s science after all. It’s supported by evidence. Now we must move to addressing the fact that the problem is her character. She is just like Mercola, Oz and Adams. All liars.

    • Kavin Senapathy

      Hello, and thank you for the insightful comment. Sorry I didn’t see this until now.

    • Bliss

      You all sound so silly, to try and demonize one person. As if she single-handely brought to light how the GMO industry is deceptive and BAD science. People figured that out without her! Try a new target. Just picking her apart makes you all sound like jealous dopes. Must be that GMO food you are pretending to be eating is causing cognition problems.

    • Bliss

      Yeah, I bet you were great friends!

  • gmailman

    hmmm…this was way too long a read to get through in its entirety. In any event, I just stumbled on this site and it looks like every writer here is banking on the food babe’s success so privately, I am sure y’all are thanking her 🙂 I don’t think it is wrong for someone to speak about their experiences with food and request full disclosure on packaging. Consumers should know what they are buying, no? Otherwise, let’s just dump a bunch of lead into our milk supply to make it extra white and pretty and not tell anyone…oh wait, that already happened and a bunch of people got sick. Scratch that then. Instead of bitchin, being jealous of someone’s success and grabbing on to their coat tail, blog about the wonders of Franken-wheat and mutant-corn that can withstand levels of toxins that the human body can’t and see how many loyal followers you’ll get

  • Svein Michaelsen

    Organic food *IS* more healthy. The use of herbicides and pesticides has exploded in recent years. The legal limit for Roundup in food increased a hunderfold times in 2011 in Europe, many other chemicals up to 300-500x(!) higher than before (2011-12). Because of these International agreements, we now have much more poison in our food. So, yeah, now I buy organic fruits and vegetables.
    Also because of increased usage of chemicals in GMO farming (also because of growing resistance in weeds and bugs caused by GMO farming), this affect the soil quality and the level of nutrients in the GMO vegetables/fruits. Oh yeah, most GMOs are specifically made to withstand MORE use of chemicals, the opposite of what the industry propaganda says.

    This site is pure GMO-industry sponsered propaganda, it’s SO obvious. Europe has no serious issues with food sparsity and have plenty of non-GMO alternatives, yet the GMO industry makes it sound like people are dying over here from starvation because we don’t have GMOs – and keep on bullying the EU to accept GMO. Shame on you!

    • Däniel García

      Have a good time wasting your money on overpriced propduce with no more benefits than “conventional” food.

  • marcdraco

    Brilliantly argued, Kavin (as always).

    It’s time one of these companies stood up and sued this woman into oblivion. Free speech is an American concept – but her lies and misinformation have reached a much wider audience and we’re getting pretty tired of it!

  • marcdraco

    I don’t know if I’m allowed to post a link to our project (which Kavin partly inspired) but here it is:

    https://www.facebook.com/FoodBabeWords

    This is a repository of (over) 50 memes which take Vani’s own claims – in context and clearly referenced – and look at each one in language that most adults can understand.

    This project has now moved into the book stage (it’ll be free) and has spawned a documentary which is currently in production.

  • Alex Johnson

    Very well-written; assertive, yet focused. You said what you had to say, made your arguments, provided evidence, and challenged her to defend herself. Excellent

  • I think the Food Babe has just become the new Jenny McCarthy!

  • rainydayinterns

    The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit
    http://gawker.com/the-food-babe-blogger-is-full-of-shit-1694902226

  • food_child

    I prefer to get my food advice from a Food Adult.

  • Psyguy

    You’re big on scientific method, so as a scientist, let me remind you from where hypotheses are often developed – personal experience and anecdotes. Freud built the entire science of Psychology on his own feelings and a single case observation, Anna. Of course his brand of Psych was not so scientific as it was not reproducible. It wasn’t until Watson and Skinner and others in the behavioral realm came along that it became a science.

    Then we have “Climate Change.” Many of the scientists behind that have reneged on their assertions and others have admitted to fudging their data in order to make the science look legit. Come on? At least the Food Babe is trying to help people. Your Feminist self is what has you in an uproar. As I am not a feminist, I don’t get it. I don’t see the misogynist examples in her work.

    The lack of scientific experimentation is fine. Bringing out her suspicions is a great way to get companies with money to test their own products or entities with our tax dollars to test the products appropriately. You should be working with her instead of being jealous of her.

    • agscienceliterate

      “At least Food Babe is trying to help people.” What a joke. She is a woomaster relying on pseudoscience to line her pockets. Go to her website and see how her “endorsements” work. A clear shill for products she recommends in lieu of the ones she slams.
      Yay to Kavin for slamming FB’s ridiculous claims. And you, Psy, should read Kavin’s book “Fear Babe,” about Vani Hari’s lack of science combined with no shortage of hubris and ignorant arrogance, before you post.
      If you are truly a scientist, as you claim, you would see through her sham in a hot second.

      • Bliss

        You mentioned science mentioned 3 times. You must be insecure. How does “science” taste? Food Babe does peddle goods, but she has to make some kind of living. going against your baby Monsanto.

        • agscienceliterate

          “Food Babe does peddle goods, but she has to make some kind of living.”
          Yeah, and so do bank robbers and prostitutes and republicans, but that doesn’t justify them. Your standards are pathetically low.

          • Bliss

            Wow. You are desperate. Still no information on how you are “heavily invested” in bad food.

          • agscienceliterate

            I’m heavily invested intellectually. A concept way above your head,
            sweetie. The only investment you know about is money in your purse. How shallow.

          • Bliss

            I am very proud of you, for you did not invoke the word science. You are evolving in a non modified way. Now go bug someone else.

          • agscienceliterate

            Proud because I didn’t use the scary bad nasty word “science”? Yeah, I imagine science isn’t something you would be proud of. Or value. Or respect. Go thump a bible or something.

          • Bliss

            I have a better idea go read one and eat an organic banana, you monkey.