Why Do We Love a Good Smackdown?

by Grace McCalmon


Why Do We Love a Good Smackdown?

by Grace McCalmon

Vani Hari "The Food Babe"

If you’re a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes then you’re probably aware there’s a battle going on in the world of digital nutrition news. It’s Food Babe v. Science Babe, but rather than pick a side, we thought something else was far more interesting: the huge number of people that shared and celebrated the Food Babe’s “takedown”.

Vani Hari (a.k.a. the “Food Babe”) is a consumer advocate who has made a successful career petitioning food companies like Kraft and General Mills to remove additives from their products. She’s got a best-selling book under her belt and a TV show in the works, but for as many Food Babe fans (she has an entire army) there seems to be just as many critics. More than a few doctors, chemists and food scientists have come out against Hari, saying she uses fear-mongering tactics to get publicity and many of her allegations are not just misguided but flat out wrong. The latest and most, erm, dramatic of her detractors is Yvette d’Entremont, a forensic chemist who goes by the name Science Babe and set the internet ablaze with a post for Gawker entitled: “The Food Babe Blogger Is Full of Shit.” The Food Babe has since fired back with her own response.

Since the post went live it’s been shared countless times by bloggers in support of d’Entremont and there are currently over 3,000 comments on the original article, nearly all of which are anti-Food Babe.

TheEvilAttorney said: “Now this is how you take someone down and thoroughly discredit them. Nice work!”

Zach Swift: “I haven’t enjoyed reading an article that caused a seething rage in me this much in a long time.”

The words “idiot” and “rage” were so popular throughout the rest of the comments you’d think the Food Babe was lobbying for legalization of dog fighting, not labeling of GMOs. But do we really hate what the Food Babe is doing, or is it the way she’s doing it? Or do we just love us some drama? Here are a couple of theories:

1. The Food Babe’s pseudoscience is setting the natural health movement back
Hari’s allegations run the gamut of surprising yet plausible, to highly, highly questionable (some may even say absurd), see her now infamous airplane post here. Although the Food Babe may mean well, making bold allegations that are not backed up by science not only damages her credibility, but the credibility of everyone associated with her causes and even the causes themselves.

2. We want an excuse to keep drinking pumpkin spice lattes
Let’s be honest, food additives, or “toxins” as Hari lables them, taste good, at least when they’re hidden inside delicious things like a tube of potato chips you can’t stop eating, a creamy bowl of mac n’ cheese, or a steaming pumpkin spice latte. Whatever your go-to guilty pleasure is, it’s nice to have someone with a lot of letters behind their name tell you it’s not going to kill you.

3. We secretly want to see the hot girl get dissed
This one doesn’t need a lot of explaining. It’s the reason why She’s All That is one of the best movies ever. We take a little bit of pleasure (however small) seeing the prom queen lose. You can’t be pretty, popular, AND massively successful. That’s just not fair.

4. The Food Babe is bumming us out
Thanks to the Internet and social media we have more nutrition information than we know what to do with. Every day there’s a new thing to eat, or not eat, and perhaps the Food Babe, although well intentioned, has come to symbolize this giant wagging finger of condemnation. People are tired of being told that everything they’re doing is wrong. If there’s a “toxin” lurking around every corner, why not say ‘the hell with it’ and head to Cinnabon? Life’s too short and you might as well enjoy the ride while it lasts, right?


We think the wave of anti-Food Babe sentiment might be a combination of all four, but what do you think? Are you team Food Babe, Team Science Babe, or somewhere in between? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted on April 9, 2015

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Grace McCalmon

Grace is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a graduate of Duke University. She received her nutrition certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association, and her training is based on the work of Dr. Weston A Price, as well as the latest peer-reviewed, scientific research.