The War of Science vs. Celebrity

Amy Coët
April 28th 2015

For health conscious food lovers out there, the Internet is a battlefield, where we are bombarded with missiles of advice and fend off full frontal assaults from ads, websites and the latest guru. There are familiar faces everywhere touting their version of the best lifestyle, guaranteed to offer you health, wellness and happiness. As long as you cut out sugar, processed food, and whatever other ingredient they have deemed ‘toxic’. Oh, and don’t forget to purchase their app, recipe book and sign up for their 8 week program. Credit cards at the ready folks!

Locally, we have our own celebrities with their dubious qualifications and glossy recipe books. Stateside, one of the most popular celebrities is Food Babe. Her site home page banner states that she is “Hot on the trail to INVESTIGATE what’s really in YOUR FOOD’. Her “investigations” tab headlines read like click bait, with titles like “The Shocking Difference Between Organic & Non-GMO Labels – It’s Huge!” and Drink Starbucks? Wake Up And Smell The Chemicals!”

Food Babe

Using the hashtag #FoodBabeArmy as a call to arms, Food Babe – whose real name is Vani Hari – has led many online petitions to persuade companies to remove ‘toxic’ and harmful ingredients from their food. Since she started blogging in 2011, Vani targeted more than  610 products and companies  declaring them to be unsafe. With close to a million followers on Facebook Vani Hari is undeniably popular and with a widespread reach.

Come for the science, stay for the dirty jokes
Science Babe

One woman however, is most definitely not a fan. Yvette d’Entremont holds a B.S. in chemistry, and an MSc in forensic Science Babe Yvette d’Entremont is an analytical science and runs a blog  dedicated to “debunking pseudoscience that tends to proliferate in the blogosphere”. With the nom de plume SciBabe she is a pleasingly well named nemesis to Food Babe. Recently, she wrote a takedown price for Gawker, titled “The Food Babe Blogger is full of shit”.

In this scathing article, d’Entremont accuses Food Babe of irresponsible fear mongering, hypocrisy and a lack of understanding of even the most basic science. As SciBabe points out: 

“the Food Babe has gone on record to say, ” There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.” I wonder if anybody’s warned her about good old dihydrogen monoxide? (AKA water.)”

She also highlights the hypocrisy of the affiliate products that Vani Hari promotes and of course profits from– many of which contain the very same ingredients she has listed as toxic and unsafe elsewhere on her site.

SciBabe is not alone in shining the cold hard light of science into the nethers of the world of the internet, in areas populated by under-educated, over-trusted celebrity gurus. Whilst her attacks are perhaps harsher than necessary (in one particularly hilarious blog post, SciBabe accuses Food Babe of behaving like a Porn Addict) if the advice offered by these gurus can’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, then they shouldn’t be promoting it. And they certainly shouldn’t be making money off of it at the potential expense of consumers health.

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