Pay No Mind to the Rabble: Anti-Real Food Paints With a Broad Brush
I recently read an article on a Gawker Media outfit called, “The Bullsh*t Hypocrisy of ‘All-Natural; Foods,” and it’s been bugging me ever since. The piece is a follow-up on the site to a takedown post on Vani Hari, known more publicly as the “Food Babe.” Full disclosure, she kind of bugs me. Most of what she has just “discovered” is either common sense (that burger that only cost $1 isn’t healthy!) or is something that has been discussed aad nauseum by the larger natural health community. She’s gimmicky and panders to the lowest common denominator – fear mongering – but the same can most definitely be said about D’Entremont, the self-named SciBabe.
Gawker, the 9Gag of the blogging world, has again commissioned the “SciBabe” to write another factually weak and incredibly biased “takedown” of the natural foods industry. Sort of. D’Entremont feebly jabs at a few hot button issues that have recently arisen, reduces anyone who might happen to fall into one of many camps as being “anti-science,” and recasts those individuals as willfully ignorant. Basically, SciBabe plays devil’s advocate against FoodBabe and just takes the opposite stance on a few issues. It’s painful to read as someone who loves food and science, and even more so as someone looking through the lens of common sense.
This isn’t a takedown of D’Entremont, mind you. I think she’s brave for voicing her opinion in so public a venue. I wouldn’t want to put myself out there at that level because the internet is full of crazies. She also seems smart, and she’s certainly got the science education that so many of Hari’s detractors fault the Food Babe for lacking. The only thing I don’t really like about her approach (aside from the ad hominem attacks on Vani Hari – totally unnecessary when you’ve already got enough objective ammo for an argument), is that she seems not to see the forest for the trees.”
The raw milk vs. pasteurized milk debate gets heated, but no one stops to think about why we drink milk at all. Same with food dye in macaroni and cheese – “natural” (which yes, we all know legally means almost nothing on a food label – this isn’t news) or otherwise, why is it there at all?
Then there’s the whole paleo baby food thing. This is clearly a case of one person writing an ill-informed and misguided baby recipe book that paints the whole real food movement in a bad light, and not reason for the indictment of an entire movement of people striving to eat health-enhancing, plant-rich, real food. And yes, your bro-lifting coworker who claims that you eat garbage, and that his “100% paleo, warrior diet” is the nutritional second coming is really annoying and needs to calm down, but that doesn’t mean that those paleo folks don’t make some good points.
She talks about aspartame, which she thinks is safe (ehhhh), and the newest announcements by Panera and Chipotle, and how Nature and what she’s deemed “Nature, Inc.” are two separate entities. Yes, that’s true, but Lululemon (part of D’Entremont’s Nature, Inc.) is not the real food movement. While her little diatribe seems an apt criticism of the life of a privileged LA wannabe-yogini “nature” lover (a decidedly annoying trope, for sure), it has little to do with the broader point she fails to make.
Yes, nature is dangerous, but supporting your local, small-scale organic farmer and admitting that your Pumpkin Spiced Latte isn’t good for you is not the same as living in the Amazonian wilderness (a la Naked and Afraid), and huffing small pox. While her arguments may hold water on their own, they are not supportive of the thesis she presents, nor the overall tone of her very broad argument.