In this week’s episode of The Whole Circle Podcast we uncover the truth about our food with the inspiring Vani Hari from Food Babe.
We’ve totally got a fan crush interviewing Vani today! We have been wanting to interview her for a long time, so we are so excited to bring you this episode. We hope you get as much out of it as we did.
Who is Vani Hari?
Vani Hari is a revolutionary food activist, a New York Times best-selling author, and was named one of the “Most Influential People On The Internet” by Time Magazine in 2015. Vani started FoodBabe.com to spread information about what is really in the American food supply. She teaches people how to make the right purchasing decisions at the grocery store, how to live an organic lifestyle, and how to travel healthfully around the world. The success of her writing and investigative work can be seen in the way food companies react to her uncanny ability to find and expose the truth.
Vani has influenced how major food giants like Kraft, General Mills, Subway, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks create their products, steering them towards more healthful policies. Vani’s activism has brought worldwide attention as she has been profiled in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. Vani has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors Show and CNN. She lives in North Carolina and is the founder of Truvani, a start-up offering real food without added chemicals, products without toxins and labels without lies.
She is totally awe-inspiring, and we are so impressed by her and her crusade!
Whilst we get that she is in America and we are in Australia, the similarities between the America food industries and the Australian food industries are aligned given we have a lot of America food companies stocking our supermarket shelves with packaged products.
How it all began
Vani launched her popular website FoodBabe.com back in 2011 as a result of a lifetime of health issues which, over years of extensive research, she had figured out were caused by the foods she was eating. When she started to clean up her diet by eliminating processed foods, the change in her health was unbelievable. She looked better, lost weight and went off every single one of her prescription drugs!
As a result of this, everyone around her could see this amazing transformation so she kept getting requests to start a blog about her journey and from there FoodBabe.com was born.
Vani gained a lot of attention in the mainstream media and started to become noticed by food companies. Attention that was both good and bad! Some companies hired her to speak to their staff about what consumers were now wanting and not wanting in their foods given that the additive-free movement was gaining momentum, while other companies attached and threatened her.
The Food Babe Way – released in 2015
Once her book, The Food Babe Way, was released in 2015, it completely opened up a Pandora’s box of criticism. She was getting attacked by people who were just wanting her to go away.
Because of her food activism and book release, she was inspiring a lot of people to make different food choices and talk with their dollars and, in turn, this ruffled a lot of feathers!
This means that the food industry was losing money from market share, as well as having to change ingredients in products to regain that market share back. An example of this is Kraft.
Campaigns sparking change
American food giant, Kraft, was using yellow 5 and yellow 6 artificial food colourings in their mac and cheese in America but in the U.K. they were using beta-carotene and paprika to naturally colour the mac and cheese.
You see, in the U.K. there is a policy that if companies use artificial colours in their food products then they have to place a warning label on the packaging which states that the product may have adverse effects on activity and attention in children.
So instead of putting a warning label on their product in the U.K., Kraft changed their ingredients to use natural food colourings instead. However, they didn’t change the product ingredients anywhere else in the world #notcool.
Vani felt this was abhorrently unethical given they were aware of the health risks that those artificial food colourings posed to consumers. She believed that they should change the ingredients across the board to all consumer markets.
Vani then started a petition with a friend of hers from 100 Days of Real Food. From the overwhelming number of signatures on that petition, Vani presented it to Kraft who then eventually changed their ingredients. Millions and millions of boxes across the board had to change as a result of the campaign. Kraft then lost a lot of money as well as losing market share to another company who weren’t using food colourings.
Because Vani was hitting the bottom line of these food conglomerates, they began attacking her. They couldn’t attack her message because it was the truth, so they steered their attacks towards her personally. They made up a lot of labels for her and tried to paint her as a pseudo-scientist, a fear monger, a person who was exaggerating the claims she was making about additives in food and that, in fact, they were completely safe and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved. Basically, anything you can think of to completely discredit her!
Incorrect assumptions that consumers can make
There is this assumption that everything on the supermarket shelf is safe. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. There are vast amounts of chemicals in our food supply that companies are using, that they have invented themselves, for one sole purpose, which is to improve the bottom line of their industry and sell more product.
What they are not doing is inventing those chemicals to improve our health!
Making companies accountable
The public has largely been in the dark about this until recent years, but with the emergence of social media and our ability to share the information out into the mainstream via the internet, the word is spreading.
For example, no one really knew what was in Starbucks drinks until Vani was able to blow the lid on that by convincing a Barista to show her what ingredients were actually in the drinks, which she then revealed online. Because of that, Starbucks eventually posted the ingredients listing of what was in their drinks online for the first time in history.
Feeding You Lies – released in 2019
Companies have hidden a lot of this information from the public and as stated above, then attacked Vani via an online campaign in an attempt to discredit her.
Instead of allowing them to succeed with their campaign, she decided to call them out on it. This is how her latest book, Feeding You Lies, came about.
Feeding You Lies is about how the food industry uses independent third-party experts to convince the public that they’re not smart enough to learn about nutrition, that they don’t have the resources, that they have to trust the food industry and that we need them in order to survive. So, what this book teaches you is how you can become your own health investigator, you can learn the tactics and tricks that the food industry employs to get you to buy their products.
At the end of the book, Vani has included a three-question detox whereby you ask yourself three simple questions before you sit down for a meal which will fundamentally change the way you look at everything you’re eating. Nutrition isn’t complicated! The only people that have made it complicated are those in the food industry. It really is simple, and you can easily take that power back into your own hands.
How do you handle criticism from mums and the general public?
There is a good chance that some of those criticisms are astroturfing (which Vani talks about in Feeding You Lies). Astroturfing is a fake, grassroots movement designed to shame those who believe that people should know the truth about additives and the risks associated with them. Those who are astroturfing are really being funded by the food industry behind the scenes.
If there are a litany of comments that come out of nowhere on threads, then they are most likely astroturfing, but if it is one or two comments here or there, they could have actually been influenced by astroturfing that they may have seen in the media or online.
Seriously … this is actually a thing! What the actual?!
Flavours v natural flavours
The reason why the food industry uses natural flavours is to make food that would otherwise not taste good, tasty. For example, in order to make blueberry yoghurt, instead of actually adding enough blueberries to make it taste like blueberry yoghurt, they use blueberry natural flavour. This is most likely made using flavouring developed in a food lab. It is designed to trick your brain into thinking you’re actually consuming real blueberries.
The problem with that is when you think you’re actually consuming real blueberries; your body also sends the signal that you should also be getting nutrition as well. When you don’t get that nutrition, your body is left wondering what is going on and your taste buds are then hijacked, and your body doesn’t know what’s real what’s not. As a result, you then start to overeat, crave foods that you shouldn’t be craving and you create an addiction to certain flavours and products.
There is also artificial colours and flavours. Artificial colours and flavours can be made from coal tar, petroleum and all sorts of different chemicals. Seven of those were recently banned by the FDA because they were linked to cancer! However, companies have up to two years to remove those artificial colours from their products which mean that adults and children will be eating these banned chemicals for up to another two years!
For more information regarding this development, check out Vani’s recent blog post here. We highly recommend you read it!
In addition to this, you have natural flavours which sound good, right? Especially considering it has the word ‘natural’ in there. But when you take a deeper look at these ‘natural flavours’ and you see how these are created in a laboratory to trick your brain, you realise they can be just as bad.
We can’t stress enough how important it is, as a consumer, to know what you’re eating. So, when you see ‘natural flavour’ or ‘artificial flavour’ added to your products, you need to ask yourself if that is a product you want to be eating or you want your family eating on a normal or regular basis.
Better still, put it back on the shelf and choose real, whole and unprocessed foods to feed you and your family every single day. Your bodies will thank you for it!
The sinister lies we get fed every day
It blows our mind that these toxic chemicals not only get put into our foods but that our governments allow it to happen!
This is why Feeding You Lies is so great, it breaks down the lies we get told and it teaches you how to recognise what’s in your food and how to understand what’s going on in the food industry so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family.
If you don’t have a copy, we highly recommend you get one.
Where can you find Vani Hari?
Check out her amazing website FoodBabe.com which is an absolute wealth of information!
Whilst you’re there, sign up to her mailing list so that you can stay informed of all the latest developments as they come to hand.
Thanks so much to Vani Hari for sharing her time and knowledge with us, we hope it has inspired you guys as much as it has us.
If you want to learn more about additives and preservatives as well as what our podcast has to offer, then head on over to your podcast app to subscribe to our show, The Whole Circle.
Watch the interview on our YouTube Channel
We will now be video recording our podcast shows. So head on over to watch the interview and enjoy all the nuggets of gold Vani shared.
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