Meredith: Food Babe? More like Food Bully

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Last week, I told you about my conversation (if you want to call it that) with the folks at the ASPCA booth during the 2014 BlogHer Food Conference in Florida. While ASPCA’s very presence was somewhat upsetting to me, what was more curious was an entire breakout session the following day about “Food Activism,” titled: How to Turn Food Ethics into Action.

The panelists included Blog Designer, Internet Consultant, and October #Unprocessed founder Andrew Wilder; Food blogger and Sustainable Seafood Blog Project founder Jessie Johnson; Food allergy blogger and Food Allergy Bloggers Conference Founder Jenny Sprague; and last but certainly not least, food activist and blogger Vani Hari AKA Food Babe.

While three of the four panelists seemed open to hearing different perspectives and even had meaningful conversations with the other “ag folks” in the room following the panel session—the Food Babe was not nearly as open-minded.

Vani is a beautiful woman—thin, with a perfect caramel-colored skin indicative of her Indian heritage—something you can tell she’s very proud of.

After monopolizing the conversation for nearly the entire session, I gained some valuable insight into Food Babe’s alleged “food journey,” which I thought I’d share with you.

Vani grew up first generation Indian in America. According to her, her parents wanted her, and her siblings, to eat “American” food, which usually included fast-food, “processed” food and quintessential items like TV dinners. Instead of eating her mother’s “fresh,” traditional Indian cooking, Vani ate cheeseburgers and fries, milkshakes and Poptarts. 

The Food Babe had her “aha” moment after being rushed into surgery for an emergency appendectomy. Despite the doctor telling her that appendicitis can happen to anyone, the Food Babe—at home on her Christmas break from college—put her high school debate skills to the test and began researching food production.

Through her research, she became convinced that everything that we eat has a direct effect on our health—and that her “unhealthy” diet (her words, not mine) directly resulted in her surgery.

I’m a firm believer in everyone having their own truth to tell—and if that’s Vani’s then I say “Amen sister.” But in this case, I’m using the word “truth” loosely.

Having built a brand—and yes, she is a brand now—around combating “big food” and “big ag” I was disturbed by the vitriol and callousness with which Vani addressed the BlogHer Food audience.

At several points in the panel she not only interrupted and corrected other panelists (who, by the way, most likely had their own “truths” to share), but she also called out the representative attending the conference for Monsanto about GMO corn, among other topics.

Just observing the Food Babe in action left me conflicted about the very title of the panel—“Turning Food Ethics into Action.”

If you are a blogger and you have a point-of-view, I think that’s great. You want to share vegan recipes, or promote Paleo or gluten-free (GF) or the Atkins diet—more power to you. I support that—in fact my best friend has celiac disease and so I myself read GF blogs searching for recipes to cook when she comes over.

But I also think that people should, in some regards, either do their research or stick to what they know. There’s a reason that I don’t write about feed conversions or PEDv—because that’s not my area of expertise. I stick to communications and advocacy (and some days I even wonder if I know and understand that!!).

With power comes responsibility, and if you build up a loyal, dedicated and engaged following, then in my mind you have the ethical obligation to wield that power for good, instead of evil.

Well, and to check your facts.

Next week, I’ll share an example this woman gave regarding her campaign against Subway. You’ll be shocked at how her interest began and how it has evolved.


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About the Author


Emily Meredith
| Emily Meredith serves as the Communications Director for the Alliance and manages all aspects of the communications strategy. She is responsible for the Issues Management Committee and coordinating effective responses to the issues of the industry.



Comments (16) Leave a comment 

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Randy Janssen    
June, 14, 2014 at 06:27 AM

Please read this: http://homesteadhillfarm.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-confession-from-former-ag-snob.htm

Randy Janssen    
June, 14, 2014 at 06:29 AM

Please read this http://homesteadhillfarm.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-confession-from-former-ag-snob.htm

michael    
kansas  |  June, 16, 2014 at 08:46 AM

Thanks for sharing Ms. Meredith. I don't think most people in farming really "get it" when it comes to these radical missionaries, and just how much like religious (cult) leaders they are. They are on a mission to convert the heathen, and they will tolerate no dissent or apostasy. Anyone who dares deviate from their holy missals are heretics, and they burn their witches with withering rhetorical fire. Questioning their "reasoning" or even suggesting there's alternatives or compromises is not allowed. In most cases, this is cover for their own agenda and sales pitches that serve their own and affiliated business and profits. But some are "pure" in their beliefs, which may be worse in many ways. In either case, treating them as simply ignorant and in need of education, is naive and unproductive. They are "enemies" and must be battled, not coddled.

Ron    
OH  |  June, 16, 2014 at 09:33 AM

Just had a "discussion" with a raw milk fanatic in a comment section. He tried to say that raw milk was safer than pasteurized milk. I gave him facts but he wouldn't back off. He kept posting and posting. I quit replying after one reply.

CrustyOldGeezer    
June, 16, 2014 at 09:48 AM

Perhaps if we heard both sides of that conversation? From your short comment I gather that you are ANTI-Raw Milk. How many people have died from ingesting "raw milk" in the last century that has been proven to be the sole cause of death? If 'raw milk' is so deadly, why are people still walking the Earth? Why is it that people that actually grew up on raw, fresh from the cow as she was being milked, farm descendants do not suffer from as many maladies as the 'skim milk' folks? Thousands of years of history disprove the government positions on "food safety" when it comes from the small farmer. Odd that the man-made additives put in mega AG produced "processed foodlike materials" you find in the store shelves can never be questioned....

Robert    
Kentucky  |  June, 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Crusty is right; why are food activists "fanatics" but big ag simply helping us all with their "modern" food production? I find it hard to get over some of the vitriol directed at the activists, as if they are about to bring down family agriculture. While some are intolerant in their outspokenness, and perhaps occasionally misinformed, they are not a threat to the U.S. agriculture sector. In reality, that threat comes from corporate profit-seeking, where foods are processed with the sole end being company benefit. Corporate capitalism is not a service, it's a business, and small farmers are more victims of the system than perpetrators. We all seem to run by our emotions here, but believe me, the corporate world is far more circumspect.

Chris Hitch    
Guymon, OK  |  June, 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Crusty, Just because people survived drinking raw milk doesn't mean they didn't get sick more often and die at a higher rate. Likewise, much of the meat consumed in the distant past was not refrigerated, but I don't think anyone would suggest that meat kept refrigerated in cellophane is less or no more safe than meat kept at room temperature without a protective covering. Raw, non-pasteurized milk is less safe than conventional milk, period. if you wish to drink raw milk, fine but please don't misinform people about safety issues.

FarmerDan    
MI  |  June, 16, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Nice try Crusty but you might save your breath. The modern Ag producer gets all of his/her research from Ag sources(like this one). Look at the advertisements and see who pays for the research and marketing phrases these folks are regurgitating. The companies that are "providing food security for a hungry and growing world". If what you are proposing is good, sustainable food for your community without farm subsidies and a dependency on subsidized fossil fuel, then you are an "elitist foodie".

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  June, 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Actually Farmer Dan, Crusty is more of a regressive agraian. He advocates for farming methods and a food system from decades ago. He wan't people to turn back the technological clock on food. And he uses the latest communications technology to distribute his plea for regression. Does that sound logical? I am a product of raw milk and i came out fine. But i consumed it on the farm, withing hours of it leaving the cow. My grandmother sold gallon upon gallon of milk to customers she had on a route that she set up. That was 40 years ago. Not many people can take advantage of that situation these days. In fact, that lack of a connection of consumers to their farm source began eroding when the first city was built and dairyment first started hauling milk to town. You ignore history when you complain against modern farming methods. You might find grounds to agree with me (particularly about raw milk) if you read up a little on Louie Pastuer. He had good reason to develop a process for treating milk before it got sent to consumers. In particular, pay attention to the infant and child mortality rates before and after the invention of pastuerization.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  June, 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Actually Farmer Dan, Crusty is more of a regressive agraian. He advocates for farming methods and a food system from decades ago. He wan't people to turn back the technological clock on food. And he uses the latest communications technology to distribute his plea for regression. Does that sound logical? I am a product of raw milk and i came out fine. But i consumed it on the farm, withing hours of it leaving the cow. My grandmother sold gallon upon gallon of milk to customers she had on a route that she set up. That was 40 years ago. Not many people can take advantage of that situation these days. In fact, that lack of a connection of consumers to their farm source began eroding when the first city was built and dairyment first started hauling milk to town. You ignore history when you complain against modern farming methods. You might find grounds to agree with me (particularly about raw milk) if you read up a little on Louie Pastuer. He had good reason to develop a process for treating milk before it got sent to consumers. In particular, pay attention to the infant and child mortality rates before and after the invention of pastuerization.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  June, 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Actually Farmer Dan, Crusty is more of a regressive agraian. He advocates for farming methods and a food system from decades ago. He wan't people to turn back the technological clock on food. And he uses the latest communications technology to distribute his plea for regression. Does that sound logical? I am a product of raw milk and i came out fine. But i consumed it on the farm, withing hours of it leaving the cow. My grandmother sold gallon upon gallon of milk to customers she had on a route that she set up. That was 40 years ago. Not many people can take advantage of that situation these days. In fact, that lack of a connection of consumers to their farm source began eroding when the first city was built and dairyment first started hauling milk to town. You ignore history when you complain against modern farming methods. You might find grounds to agree with me (particularly about raw milk) if you read up a little on Louie Pastuer. He had good reason to develop a process for treating milk before it got sent to consumers. In particular, pay attention to the infant and child mortality rates before and after the invention of pastuerization.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  June, 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Actually Farmer Dan, Crusty is more of a regressive agraian. He advocates for farming methods and a food system from decades ago. He wan't people to turn back the technological clock on food. And he uses the latest communications technology to distribute his plea for regression. Does that sound logical? I am a product of raw milk and i came out fine. But i consumed it on the farm, withing hours of it leaving the cow. My grandmother sold gallon upon gallon of milk to customers she had on a route that she set up. That was 40 years ago. Not many people can take advantage of that situation these days. In fact, that lack of a connection of consumers to their farm source began eroding when the first city was built and dairyment first started hauling milk to town. You ignore history when you complain against modern farming methods. You might find grounds to agree with me (particularly about raw milk) if you read up a little on Louie Pastuer. He had good reason to develop a process for treating milk before it got sent to consumers. In particular, pay attention to the infant and child mortality rates before and after the invention of pastuerization.

farmerdan    
MI  |  June, 16, 2014 at 12:48 PM

See what i mran Crusty? Mr Katt is only willing to think from the same narrow view that his corporate masters provide. They told him all about Pasteur but he has never heard of Andre Beauchamp. Its easy to forgive him if we used to drink the samw coolaide and i certainly did.

Allan Schinckel    
Indiaina  |  June, 23, 2014 at 07:38 AM

the food babe states that she - and she alone made General Mills take GMOs out of Cheerios - --- (will copy what is stated) - the FACT is cheerios never had GMO grain at all- ever. People trust people who don't report the facts to find the facts ? from the website General Mills Removes GMO’s in Cheerios – In November 2012, GMO Inside starting calling on consumers to put pressure on General Mills to make Cheerios without the use of genetically modified ingredients. The Food Babe Army played a huge role in signing the petition and making their voice heard. Over 25,000 people took part in the email actions and calls to the company. In January 2014, General Mills announced that they removed all GMOs from regular Cheerios by changing the use of GMO beet sugar to non-GMO cane sugar. A huge Food Babe victory!

IndianaJohn    
NW Indiana  |  June, 23, 2014 at 09:59 AM

I do not know anyone with a milk cow or a milk herd that cooks milk for their table. They seem to be unaware of said facts. Many of them can't even spell 'docktor'.

IndianaJohn    
NW Indiana  |  June, 23, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Dark orcs from the third world are just so ugly, when they attempt to gain ascendency in Western Society.


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