Let’s address the elephants in the room right now. Vani Hari, author of the blog Food Babe and the book The Food Babe Way is not a scientist. She’s also not a science writer, as is evident in several places in the book where she lapses into bloggerese like – “I can totally relate…”
And she does make some sweeping political statements like – “Later, when I read Vilsack’s speech, I was reminded that he is a bureaucrat and not a man willing to go against his financial ties to protect the rights and health of American People.”
But to be fair, Hari never claims to be a scientist, or a medical writer, or an unbiased political reporter, in fact, she very clearly states up front- “I’m just a regular person who got tired of being a victim to big food companies and got the courage to speak the truth.” She uses her own personal experience of literally getting sick from processed food as the inciting incident for change.
So while she does not have “official credentials”, (or at least the credentials her attackers are saying she needs) it doesn’t mean that her message is wrong. We know chemicals in food are bad. We all do. It’s common knowledge, and yet we *still* stop by McDonald’s or Subway (if we’re in the mood for something healthy) for meals. We still buy our kids snacks and candy that contain an alphabet of chemicals, sodas that include preservatives, and meats that are filled with antibiotics and hormones.
Part of the reason we do this is simply because of convenience, it’s there, we know it will taste exactly as we expect it will. Another part of the reason is that we don’t have the time to do the research or cook the meals – when you work a full time job, have to get the kids to where they need to do, shop for and prepare dinners, it can be, and often is, overwhelming. We know that our food choices are bad, but we’ll do something about it tomorrow when we have more time.
Well guess what? Tomorrow is here and you don’t have to do the work because Hari is doing it for you. Through her blog and her “online army” Hari has been able to do things like get Kraft to stop using food dye (that was long removed in European products) in their American Mac and Cheese. Hari has done research on several foods, collected evidence that the chemicals could be dangerous and she’s gotten companies like Chick-fil-A, Subway, Chipotle, and Starbucks to CHANGE!
That’s pretty impressive work for “just a regular person.”
Lately Hari has been attacked in the news for not being a scientist. Again, she never said she was, but do you have to be a scientist to do extensive research, compile data, and present facts? Is that a job relegated only to scientists? I fear that the reason she is being attacked may be more for the message than it is for the messenger. Food companies are starting to notice Hari. If she runs a campaign against them, they would have to respond and either change their food or lose customers. That’s big money from big food which is why some big guns are being pulled out.
Hari’s book, The Food Babe Way (okay another elephant, I so wish she hadn’t chosen the name Food Babe for her blog, but she started her blog years ago and wanted a catchy name, I don’t like it, but I get it) is divided into 3 parts, the first part talks about all the chemicals you are eating in a typical American diet and she also tells you (based on collected research reports, as well as personal anecdotes), the possible effects of those chemicals on the human body.
Look, I do have a degree in medical biology, I’ve worked as a clinical microbiologist, I’ve written scientific and medical articles, and I think much of what Hari has to say is ultimately sound. We shouldn’t be feeding ourselves and children food dyes, antibiotics, hormones, and stabilizers. It goes beyond being scientific and lands squarely in the common sense court. It’s difficult to not be alarmed when reading about what is really in our food – as it should be.
The second part of Hari’s book is a 21-day program that introduces a life-long health habit each day. Things like cut out the soda, giving up refined sugar, and eating less meat and eating it responsibly. All very good health habits that should be considered. Even the somewhat alarming “fasting habit” simply boils down to this, eat meals on a schedule and don’t snack in between – much of this is the common sense that gets so lost in our hectic lives.
Lastly, Hari includes a 21-day food plan filled with tons of recipes for “real food.” Real food means nothing processed, no sugar, limited dairy, clean meat, and little to no alcohol. Guess what? This is the very same diet my Lyme doctor has advised me to use for managing my Lyme disease. It’s a diet meant to help your body be healthy.
Some of Hari’s opinions are just that, opinions, and as the reader you are free to take or leave them as you wish, however, her overall message that processed food is making us all very, very sick and that there are things we can do about it is spot on. It’s safe to say that if you eat the Standard American Diet, you need to read this book. I appreciate the work Hari did in compiling this information into The Food Babe Way so that we can all learn from her work and change what and how we eat.
Note: I was sent an advance copy of the Food Babe Way to review. I am not being compensated for my review, my opinions are my own.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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