The Food Babe Way is Not Sustainable

The Food Babe Way is Not Sustainable

Lately it seems like the tables have turned on the Food Babe. Recently, a woman who coined herself the Science Babe wrote a post on Gawker entitled “Why the Food Babe is Full of Sh*t”. Granted, I am not a fan of the language in the post, but the Science Babe exposes some honest truths when it comes to the Food Babe and what she stands for. It didn’t take long before outlets like Cosmo, Elle Magazine, Vox, and even the Thought Catalog jumped on the bandwagon exposing the Food Babe for who she really is. Now calling out the Food Babe isn’t anything new. Slate and even the New York Times have put our articles criticizing the claims of the Food Babe.

So what does the Food Babe stand for? Well according to her, we aren’t supposed to eat foods that contain ingredients we can’t pronounce, there are mountains of evidence that synthetic pesticides are carcinogenic and neurotoxic to human health and bad for the environment, and that she is full of heart, love, and hope for a better healthier food system.

This philosophy of exposing the dangers of the world and selling the masses a cure for it all is nothing new. We’ve seen this for years, centuries even. Does the term snake oil salesman sound familiar? The term dates back to the 1800s and “conjures up an image of seedy profiteers trying to exploit an unsuspecting public by selling it fake cures.

And since the 1800s, not much has changed. Ever time the next big “thing” is put out there, there is fear and people flock to possible solutions before even assessing if there is a real risk even there. Promoting fear in the masses has been a great business model for many self-proclaimed health companies. And many individuals have made it their life goal to tear down agriculture and our food system all in the name of good health. If you follow any of these people, it seems as if all the evils in the world are to blame on what we eat.

But here’s the problem with that business model.

Those who live to tear down other people will always be exposed for who they are, eventually. Plain and simple, a life or career that thrives on ruining other people will never be sustainable. It may gain vast popularity for a while and it may hold some weight for a while, but eventually it will crumble. And those people who once had popularity and power will be left trying to pick up the pieces of their career that has been brutally destroyed.

Let’s take the Food Babe for example:

First, I want to put out there, I fully agree there are problems with our food system. And contrary to what the Food Babe shares, there are some wonderful and qualified professionals out there looking to do amazing things in food and agriculture to better the lives of us all. The Food Babe also claims to be rallying her army to better the lives of us all. But the truth is that the Food Babe is not full of heart, love, and hope for a better, healthier food system like she claims. The difference between the qualified people and people much like the Food Babe is look that people like the Food Babe look to tear down our food system all while lining their own pockets.

And in the face of criticism, people like the Food Babe, also does not approach her critics with grace or love. Instead, the Food Babe regularly criticizes others for making personal attacks on her, yet she does the exact same technique in her blogs, even sometimes fabricating evidence in order to do so. Should this surprise us? Not really. Remember, her whole career thrives on attacking companies and other individuals.

Most of the time, when people seek defensiveness in the face of truth, it is because they already know that what they are trying to promote or sell is a fake or a lie. I am sure the Food Babe knows that her claims hold no weight in scientific community. So when a scientist comes out with a criticism of her work, the only thing she can do is attack them personally. This is both unproductive and unprofessional. And to be quite honest, I am surprised more people haven’t been turned off by how disrespectful the Food Babe comes across in many of her posts. I’m sorry but you can’t claim to be full of love when your actions and even words display the exact opposite.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to be hating on the Food Babe. I know that many in agriculture spend hours on end trying to discredit people like the Food Babe. And we need those people but personally, I typically find that taking the high road in such interactions is always more productive for me. And I know that people like her will eventually be exposed. However, the Food Babe lends so well to the point I am trying to make about an unsustainable business model so I apologize for potentially damaging her character while using her as an example.

I know in our current food system it is hard to figure out whom to believe when it comes to our food. And I know so many struggle with who to trust, whether it be the Food Babe or not.

So if we can’t turn to people like the Food Babe, whom can we turn to? Who can we trust?

It is pretty simple really. If you want to know the truth behind your food, ask the people who produce it. You want to know who is really full of heart, love and hope for a better, healthier food system?

Farmers of this country.

I know it is going to take some real faith to trust us, especially in the wake of the Food Babe’s claims. But if you really want to know what happens on the farm, ask a farmer. With the advent of social media, farmers are literally a tweet away.

There are so many actively involved in writing about all facets of agriculture and our food system every single day, without getting paid in the thousands of dollars to share their story or without peddling some sort of product. We are here. And we are ready to have conversations.

We aren’t trying to promote any sort of fear or special detox. We simply want to share with you what we do and why we do it. Unfortunately, the Food Babes of this world make it extremely hard when they fill everyone with fear regarding what we do and encourage everyone to second guess our motives. 

Mark & Jenny Rohrich

10 Comments

  1. Jim
    April 9, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    Right on, Jenny. You rock!

  2. April 10, 2015 / 2:11 am

    You have not supplied any FACTS.

    • April 10, 2015 / 9:25 am

      Hi Kris,

      Appreciate your comment. This post isn’t meant to be a factual laden post, it is more of an opinion piece. If you’re looking for facts that support my opinion, check out the Gawker article it is full of facts. Thanks and have a wonderful Friday!

  3. April 10, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    She mentioned that there are many farmers trying to tell the truth about agriculture and not getting paid and not selling products on our website. That is a FACT. She also mentioned the Food Babe uses “This philosophy of exposing the dangers of the world and selling the masses a cure for it ” which is also a fact. What other facts would you like? I would be happy to help provide any you may be looking for.

  4. April 10, 2015 / 4:34 pm

    I’m really interested in your take on this! I was buying into the Food Babe train of thought for awhile, until I started hearing legit sources speak out against her a few months ago. I do know that there are some real dangers of all those chemicals we use…but I realize there’s a lot I don’t yet know, and looking at all the info out there is overwhelming. Thinking about your Monsanto post, as well as this, I value hearing your perspective as someone who works with this kind of stuff and understands it more than me. I am curious though: I know that not ALL chemicals are bad, but some are, right? I know that not ALL GMOs are bad, but they can be, right? I seriously am interested in hearing more on the “other side” of this, as I’m still forming my own opinions and knowledge on this. This is probably a loaded question, haha. Sorry!
    P.S. Fellow North Dakotan/new follower here:)
    Amanda recently posted…Tell Me About Your Town AnnouncementMy Profile

    • April 10, 2015 / 6:14 pm

      Amanda – Was reading through and saw your comment. My husband and I farm in Illinois. Thought I’d offer up our perspective. We raise corn and soybeans – planting genetically engineered seed. So chemicals can be bad if used incorrectly. I think the popular phrase is “it’s the dose that makes the poison.” In order to apply pesticides and or fertilizers, my husband has to be certified. His certification is renewed each year (for a fee) and then he has to take a 3-4 hour test every three years (for a fee). Have never seen him study for anything except this. So, I guess what I’m saying is the use of what we apply to our fields is regulated in order to ensure the safety of it. AND we’ve got two kids running around the farm. We wouldn’t do anything to put them in harm’s way. As far as GMOs go . . . these seeds are the most tested, regulated, costly to bring to market seed out there. It takes 13 years to bring a genetically engineered seed to market. GE-seeds have been available since 1996 and no sneeze, cough or upset stomach has ever been attributed to a GMO. So, on this front, I’d say no, GMOs are not bad and have potential to be very beneficial to us – providing nutrient packed fruits and veggies, saving whole industry (i.e. the citrus industry) from obliteration from pest pressure. We use GE-seed because of the environmental benefits – less pesticide use = less time in the field = less soil erosion = less fuel used, etc. I hope that helps answer your questions a bit. AND thanks from this farmer for being so open with your questions and intentions. It is refreshing! Jenny is, for sure, a good person to follow and ask!

    • April 10, 2015 / 8:50 pm

      Amanda, I really appreciate your efforts to find out both sides of the story. My husband and I farm vegetables and fruit in Utah, our farm is small in comparison to many, but 80 acres of varied row crops is a lot more labor intensive than 80 acres of forage crops (hay), or grain, etc. We grow and sell direct to the public- so its kind of like a store that carries most of the stuff you find at a farmer’s market. I grew up a city girl and I have my masters in Linguistics and even before an advanced degree have always liked looking into all sides of any “hot” topic. GMOs are definitely one of those such topics. I personally try to avoid most processed foods, because I think food from its source and a plant-based diet gives us a lot what our bodies need. AND on our farm, we haven’t received an organic certification, mostly because of the process that it entails, but also because my husband who has an advanced degree in agriculture and has studied this a lot more than I doesn’t feel like the chemicals used in organic farming are that much less “dangerous”. We are lucky to live in a fairly moderate climate and our colder winters keep the pest problem down for our vegetables. Pesticides are a big use of chemicals on the farm. So we are able to use less spray. Here’s one conundrum we face on our farm, sweet corn is the biggest seller in our farm market, but also very susceptible to pests no matter what the conditions are. My husband and many other farmers who grow other crops that are susceptible to pests have HUGE savings of time, labor AND money and I learned recently listening to a GM scientist, that GMOs have also really helped clean up our waterways. Many of the pesticides that were being sprayed to kill these prevalent pests we polluting rivers, streams, etc. This is HUGE- in my opinion.
      Now the problem for our farm in particular, because of all the fear-based marketing surrounding GMOs, everyone started asking if all of our produce is GMO-free. Right now the main GM crops in the produce section are sweet corn and papaya- my facts may be outdated- because I know that they have been working to develop a GM tomato and apple- there could be more. The point is there are not many fruits or vegetables that even have GM seed varieties.
      Back to the story of sweet corn on our farm. With all those questions, and corn being the only one that we used GM seeds for, we decided that our customer base preferred non-GMO. What did that mean for us? Well, an 10 fold increase in labor to grow the same crops, but we can’t charge anymore for them because of supply and demand. My husband is also subjected to the pesticides he has to spray weekly the entire season, not to mention the waterways near the farms where people demanding GMO-free being polluted again. It is true there is no longitudinal research to tell us if the genetic modification hurts humans, but there is research to show that pesticides are as you say chemicals and they can hurt us. So-what do we do personally in our family? Well- we eat the corn sparingly because we get enough carbs from our grains and it isn’t in fact a vegetable. And I wish our customer base wasn’t so afraid of GMOs that we could grow it.

      Without going into as much depth, when people start asking a lot of questions about pesticides, my husband likes to ask people if they know how many chemicals are in the other products in their homes that science has proven are often much more harmful to our bodies. Our family personally tries to reduce our “chemical” use all around, but we cannot afford to let an entire crop be ruined by pests, so we continue to use them when we have to. Hope that helps.

  5. April 10, 2015 / 5:03 pm

    Great piece! I must say it doesn’t make me the slightest bit sad to see all the anti food babe stuff lately. Glad people are starting to see thru her propaganda!

  6. April 21, 2015 / 4:25 pm

    Just stumbled upon your website and I am so excited I found it! I am a fellow farm wife and love what you are doing to promote agriculture and support farmers!

    • April 22, 2015 / 4:51 pm

      Awww thank you!! Always love making new friends in Agriculture!