Sci Babe vs Food Babe

An interesting and strong denunciation of a high profile US food blogger, by a science blogger. Some extracts:

Hari’s campaign last year against the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte drove me to launch my site (don’t fuck with a Bostonian’s Pumpkin-Spice Anything). She alleged that the PSL has a “toxic” dose of sugar and two (TWO!!) doses of caramel color level IV in carcinogen class 2b.

The word “toxic” has a meaning, and that is “having the effect of a poison.” Anything can be poisonous depending on the dose. Enough water can even be poisonous in the right quantity (and can cause a condition called hyponatremia).

We hear the same from anti fluoride people – they will always refer to something they don’t like as a toxin, relying on people to react to think that automatically means it is bad for you at any dose.

And what about that “carcinogenic” caramel color? Well, it turns out that it’s not the only thing in your PSL that’s in carcinogen class 2b.

There’s also coffee.

Another example:

Hari uses this tricky technique again and again. If I told you that a chemical that’s used as a disinfectant, used in industrial laboratory for hydrolysis reactions, and can create a nasty chemical burn is also a common ingredient in salad dressing, would you panic? Be suspicious that the industries were poisoning your children? Think it might cause cancer? Sign a petition to have it removed?

What if I told you I was talking about vinegar, otherwise known as acetic acid?

You can make almost anything sound bad.

This is Hari’s business. She takes innocuous ingredients and makes you afraid of them by pulling them out of context (Michelle Francl, in a review of Hari’s book for Slate, expertly demonstrates the shallowness of this gimmick). This is how Hari demonized the harmless yet hard-to-pronounce azodicarbonamide, or as she deemed it, the “yoga mat chemical,” which is yes, found in yoga mats and also in bread, specifically Subway sandwich bread, a discovery Hari bombastically trumpeted on her website. However, as the science-minded among us understand, a substance can be used for more than one thing perfectly safely, and it doesn’t mean that your bread is made of a yoga mat if it happens to contain azodicarbonamide, which is FDA-approved as a dough-softening agent. It simply means your bread is composed of chemicals, much like everything else you eat.

Hari’s rule? “If a third grader can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.”

My rule? Don’t base your diet on the pronunciation skills of an eight-year-old.

Much better advice.

If you want proof that Hari doesn’t research anything before she puts it online, look no further than this article on airplanes, which she deleted from her site. She claimed that pilots control the air in an airplane, so you should sit near the front to breathe better air. She wrote that passengers are sometimes sprayed with pesticides before flights, and that airplane air is pumped full of nitrogen.

Please recall high school science, in which you hopefully learned that the atmosphere is 78% nitrogen.

There’s more in this vein. It is a good reminder to be wary of the anti-science fanatics.

The Food Babe has millions following her and believing her, Sadly few have seen this post she deleted:

Last by not least, Dr. Masaru Emoto, who is famous for taking pictures of various types of waters and the crystals that they formed in the book called “Hidden Messages in Water,” found water that was microwaved did not form beautiful crystals – but instead formed crystals similar to those formed when exposed to negative thoughts or beliefs. If this is happening to just water – I can only imagine what a microwave is doing to the nutrients, energy of our food and to our bodies when we consume microwaved food. For the experiment pictured above, microwaved water produced a similar physical structure to when the words “satan” and “hitler” were repeatedly exposed to the water.

Why do TV shows take her seriously and put her on?

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