Monday, January 18, 2016

I deserted the Food Babe Army. Maybe you should too.

Once the twins began eating solid food you could say I went a little overboard.  Ok.  More like so far overboard the boat was gone.  I wanted them to eat decently, as in real food and not a bunch of packaged crap.  Plus I needed to lose baby weight.  Twinsane Asylum indeed.

I started looking for meal plans that contained real foods.  (Think outer perimeter of the grocery store.)  And that was all fine and good.  I found the blog 100 Days of Real Food which had some great meal plans and some workable strategies to eat a little better and to encourage your kids to eat more whole foods instead of filler.  Though her less expensive meal plan option was unrealistic, I found ways to eat better foods and really enjoy her recipes.

All was right with the world.  Until I started worrying about the food dyes, the HFCS, and the synthetic 'toxins'.  That is where the Food Babe came in.  Vani Hari is a self proclaimed food activist who 'investigates' ingredients in certain foods and then calls out the major companies with products containing the offending items.  Man, did I buy in to the fear.  Because if you know me or have read this blog you know my pregnancy was traumatic.  The twins were preemies, one came home on oxygen, and we worried about milestones or if they would ever catch up to their same age peers.  Needless to say I was frazzled and scared and that made me emotionally vulnerable.

As a teacher I see the copious amounts of crap that my students consume on a daily basis thinking it is nourishment.  In an effort to teach my boys the importance of food as it relates to providing fuel and nourishment to their bodies, I let simple fear consume me and Vani ran with it.

At first I fully supported things like asking Kraft to get rid of food dye in the products marketed to kids.  After all they were just there for neon orange color, not flavor.  And you know... 'research' which usually involved websites that agreed with my POV.  Get some of the crap out and make an improvement.  I will sadly admit I posted some obnoxious nonsense on their FB page along with the rest of the Army.  (Really sorry about that Kraft)

There was some satisfaction in this of course and I eagerly awaited to see what Vani would check out next.  I liked her natural product recommendations for health and beauty products and I thought she was making a legitimate difference.  That I was taking my health under control.

Not terribly long into this world, where I got more and more fearful of food.  ( I am still not ok with the months of October through April revolving around candy and parents giving said candy to kids that aren't their own- because raising kids isn't hard enough without extra sugar).  Monsanto was the devil, all food needed to be organic, big food was out to poison us, Bad GMO's BAD.  I imagine I was real fun at parties.

But even as I was reading labels and upending our pantry, Vani started to bother me.  Because she really didn't seem to understand being on a budget.  Or have any real suggestions for the 'every man' other than the smug "it is better to pay for it now than medical bills in the future' that she and her followers spew out.  It was starting to bother me that not only was everything a pitch to one of her affiliates but she really went off the rails of the crazy train over products she wouldn't deign to consume anyway.

She demonized non organic wine- my husband works in the wine industry so I knew her claims here were wrong and alarmist.  She made over dramatic posts about how she almost choked when she saw her husband drinking *gasp* bottled tonic water.  It seemed to get worse in a short period of time.  Everything was poison, everything was trying to kill us, conventional grocery stores were SCARY.  She was on elaborate vacations what seemed like weekly.

Then she attacked Newcastle. (I would link but don't want her page to get anymore traffic ;))

Don't mess with my beer.  My care factor on it being colored with caramel coloring was exactly zero.  Everyone knows drinking too much is not good for you caramel coloring or not.  So why was this woman pitching a fit over beer that she didn't drink anyway?

I unfollowed her on Facebook after that.  I simply could not handle being that scared over food all of the time.  Sure I continued to make better and reasonable food choices- I made lunch for the boys instead of them eating school lunch, I tried to avoid candy as a reward and excess sugar. It made life easier.  My kids were happy and healthy and I wasn't freaked out worrying if I was inadvertently poisoning my kids.

Plus I started to take the advice I gave to  my students in Environmental Science- Question everything.  Ask for studies, ask what is the motivation/goal of the person I am watching/reading/following, and Consider the source.  As I really dug deeper into the science (the real science not the faux science a la Natural News) I realized that I had been duped.  I joined the FB group Banned by Food Babe where they humored my questions and pointed me to actual research, scientists, and farmers.  Questions were ok, disagreement was ok, and science once again regained its spot in my brain.

What I love about science is that it can change based on new evidence.  Right now, science is not on the side of the Food Babe.  Does that mean research shouldn't look into some of these claims? Of course not.  It means you keep exploring all options and change if the evidence supports it, but don't demonize what the the research DOES support.

Vani does not like opposition or anything that questions her so called expertise.  She plays the victim even as she sends her Army to attack another company and cries Shill and Troll when people question her tactics or lack of evidence. She bans people on Social Media for simple questions (and yes outright calling her out) but acts offended when the companies she harasses does the same. She calls all dissenters part of a PR spin machine even as the hashtag #IWasBannedByFoodBabe trended on Twitter.  (I am on the hashtag and am in fact a real person despite Hari's claims)

She associates with pseudo-intellects like Nassim Taleb who likes to call people that disagree with him the R-word.

 Hypocritically, she cries TOXIN about ingredients and then posts affiliate links to products that contain the same ingredients- I guess it is ok if she gets paid to promote it.  She has no scientific knowledge, contradicts herself, and yet somehow is considered an 'expert' in her field.  She bullies actual scientists and companies but cries crocodile tears when she is criticized or questioned.   Interestingly though, it is mostly her army of minions that attack companies on their actual social media accounts while the Food Babe sits back and watches.  Heaven forbid she get her hands dirty, but she will declare victory for herself and her narcissistically named Army so she can say she 'consulted' with the company.

Moms.  We are in this together and being a mom is scary.  But I am tired of living in fear.  It isn't good for me, isn't good for my kids, and is quite frankly, exhausting.  If you don't want to eat certain things, don't.  But don't let yourself be manipulated by a woman that only cares about making money off your fears.

Time to say ENOUGH to the Fear Babe