Tell Us About Yourself
What do you do?
I launched FoodBabe.com in 2011 to spread information about what is really in the American food supply. My readers, who I lovingly call the Food Babe Army, are a powerful group of people who are committed to demanding and actively creating change in the food industry. Not only do they care about their personal health, but they care enough to educate others. Our mission together is to create a healthier world full of the most nutritious, safe, and wholesome food to feed ourselves and our families. We create public awareness about what is in food, how to make the right purchasing decisions at the grocery store and how to live an organic lifestyle in this over-processed world. We inspire change in the food industry, beginning within our local communities and expanding into the largest worldwide food corporations. It is through the help of the entire Food Babe Army that the investigations and petitions on FoodBabe.com have been able to force some of the largest food corporations to change, including Kraft, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Subway, Anheuser-Busch, and Starbucks. In demanding that food manufacturers and retailers provide organic and nutritious food, we open the door for a greater supply of good affordable food in the world around us. Collectively, we have the power to change the world.
What or who inspired you to do what you are doing now?
In my early 20’s I had a health scare that completely changed my outlook on how I wanted to take care of my body. I had let my work life take over and had my wake up moment. I was sick, overweight and looked horrible, but from that day forward, I made a personal promise to make health my number one priority.
And then when I started eating an organic whole food diet something dramatic happened. All the issues I had as a child—asthma, eczema, allergies went away. I was on several different prescription drugs depending on the season and I’m on zero today. My weight normalized, and I actually lost another 5 pounds (on top of the other 30+ pounds I gained!) I began to have more energy than I had when I was years younger! The way you treat yourself, the way you treat your body, what you put in it, can make a HUGE life-changing difference.
What is your food philosophy?
I stick to an organic whole food diet, eating as close to nature as possible. In my latest book, Feeding You Lies, I walk you through three simple questions to ask yourself that will dramatically improve your food decisions. It all begins with knowing what is in your food. You don’t have to make a full-time career of food activism and investigating as I have. You just need to ask, and answer, three simple questions about food:
- What are the ingredients?
- Are these ingredients nutritious?
- Where do these ingredients come from?
I believe that if you can select food based on your answers to these three questions, you’ll put yourself—and your loved ones—on the path to a healthy lifestyle right away. Plus, you’ll be fighting back against those guilty parties who are trying to contaminate our foods in the name of profits.
Tell us about your new book – Feeding You Lies:
When you sell food that makes people sick, it turns out you have to spend a lot of time and money trying to convince people it’s not your fault. Just as the tobacco industry invested millions of dollars trying (in vain) to discredit the research showing the link between smoking and lung cancer, so has Big Food invested huge resources into persuading people that their unhealthy products aren’t behind the obesity, type 2 diabetes, and chronic diseases affecting Americans on a grand scale.
Feeding You Lies is a new kind of diet and health book. After you read it, you’ll become your own food and health investigator, an ingredient expert, and smarter label reader.
Why are dangerous ingredients banned in Europe but not in America?
Europe takes a “precautionary principle” approach towards food additives that are potentially risky. They ban or add warning labels to these additives for their citizens. The U.S. takes the opposite approach. It does not remove additives from our food supply until they have been proven dangerous – which can take a very long time and a lot of red tapes. This means Americans are literally the lab rats. The U.S. government allows food companies to largely police itself, deciding which ingredients, chemicals, and additives are “safe” to use in their products. This clearly isn’t a wise approach – is it?
What are some food brands that can’t be trusted and some that can be?
I don’t endorse many specific food brands and choose to stick primarily with real, local, whole foods rather than packaged unhealthy foods created by an industry that largely puts profits over people. Some food brands I love are Tolerant, Yellow Barn Organics, SunFoods, and of course my own, Truvani.
What are some ingredients we should look out for when reading labels?
There’s an implication out there that everything allowed in processed food – preservatives, artificial sweeteners, thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers – have gone through some sort of rigorous safety testing by the FDA proving they’re okay to eat – but in most cases, they haven’t! And sometimes the FDA reviews an ingredient, deems it unsafe, and companies use a loophole to sneak the ingredients into our food supply anyway. That’s why I say if you don’t know what an ingredient is or how it could affect your health, put it back on the shelf and choose real food instead.
Does the label Non-GMO mean we won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals?
Unfortunately no. As I discuss in Feeding You Lies, Roundup weed killer is used on non-GMO crops such as wheat, where it is used to dry the crop 7 to 10 days before harvest. This is a problematic practice because spraying crops so close to harvest increases the amount of this chemical incorporated into the food supply. It’s not just the wheat. Roundup is used on major conventional non-GMO food crops such as tomatoes, nuts, oranges, and beans (upwards of 70 different food crops in the U.S). To protect yourself from this chemical linked to cancer – choose certified organic food. Roundup is prohibited on organic crops and although some organic foods are contaminated they are consistently safer.
What are your thoughts on protein powders, vegan vs whey?
Whey protein isolate is typically highly processed from ultra-pasteurized milk raised on GMOs, antibiotics, and other drugs. This milk is then exposed to acid processing, which strips out alkalizing minerals and naturally occurring vitamins and lipids. This processing makes whey protein isolate overly acidifying in the body. Chronically consuming whey protein isolate without the appropriate balance of alkalizing foods can acidify your body, which over time can increase your vulnerability to degenerative disease. That’s why I usually choose vegan protein powders instead.
I created a vegan protein powder at my company Truvani. It is the cleanest on the market with only 6 ingredients in the chocolate and 5 in the vanilla flavor. It’s also is tested to ensure it isn’t contaminated with heavy metals and glyphosate weed killer (as some brands are contaminated with these substances).
Can you take us through a day of your meals?
I drink warm lemon water with cayenne pepper as soon as I get up in the morning. Starting my day with a healthy action sets me up for success for the rest of the day and is a reminder that my health comes first. I follow that up with a green drink, typically a fresh juice before I eat my breakfast which is typically organic steel cut oats with fresh berries. My diet varies a lot each day but is often full of green salads, beans, fruit, vegetables, and some poultry. I eat at least 15-17 homemade meals a week and choose ingredients wisely.
Do you have any tips for healthier cooking habits?
One simple change to make is your cooking oil. Instead of using heavily refined vegetable oils (like soybean, corn, or canola) to cook with, opt for organic unrefined coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, and olive oil instead.
Dairy products are controversial these days. Are certain dairy products better than others?
Yes, absolutely. Dairy products from grass-fed cows have been shown to have an improved omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio, higher levels of beneficial fats such as CLA, and more antioxidants. Organic milk comes from cows fed 100% organic feed and no GMOs or antibiotics. Ideally, look for 100% grass-fed organic dairy products.
Are nutrition facts really “facts”?
Just because something is low in calories or fat grams doesn’t make it healthy for you. Many of these products are filled with health-destroying ingredients. Even worse, the “Nutrition Facts” label itself isn’t always accurate because government regulations allow a margin of error of 20%. So that product with 100% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A might really contain 120% and that 100-calorie pack of cookies could really be 120 calories.
What are some lies found on popular food products?
The news that RXBar decided to place their ingredient label on the front of their packaging stunned me. On the front of the RXBar package, you’ll see ingredients listed like this: “3 egg whites, 6 almonds, 4 cashews, 2 dates, no B.S.” And, at first, I was ecstatic! I was so happy to see a company make ingredients a top priority, and it seemed like my dreams were coming true. But then I flipped the package over and was shattered. Upon closer inspection, I learned RXBar also adds “natural flavors” to their bars. You’ll only find this disclosed when you read the real ingredients list in small print on the back of the package. That sounds like a bit of B.S. to me. The front of the package is a lie! I find this highly misleading. We don’t know exactly what’s in those flavors.
Name one beauty secret?
Drinking green drinks is one daily habit of mine that I believe helps keep my skin looking younger and more vibrant.
Any dangerous ingredients to look out for when buying cosmetics?
I was just reading an article about asbestos in make-up. If you don’t know what asbestos is, it is a substance strongly linked to cancer and has been found in some cosmetics that contain talc as an ingredient.
Favorite book? Too many to choose from!
Favorite movie? Coneheads
Favorite tv series? Homeland
Favorite podcast? Rachel Hollis
Favorite Instagram? Mimi IKonn
Where To Find You
Instagram – @thefoodbabe
Facebook – @thefoodbabe
Website – https://FoodBabe.com
Vani Hari Bio
Named as one of the “Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time magazine, Vani Hari is a food activist, New York Times best-selling author of The Food Babe Way, and co-founder of Truvani. For most of her life, Vani ate whatever she wanted—candy, soda, fast food, processed food—until her typical American diet landed her where that diet typically does, in a hospital. Despite her successful career in corporate consulting, Hari decided that health had to become a priority. Her newfound goal drove her to investigate what is really in our food, how it is grown, and what chemicals are used in its production. The more she learned, the more she changed and the better she felt.
Encouraged by her friends and family, Hari started a blog called foodbabe.com in 2011. It quickly became a massive vehicle for change. Foodbabe.com has led campaigns against food giants like Kraft, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Subway, and General Mills that attracted more than 500,000 signatures and led to the removal of several controversial ingredients used by these companies. Through corporate activism, petitions, and social media campaigns, Hari and her Food Babe Army have become one of the most powerful populist forces in the health and food industries. Her drive to change the food system inspired the creation of her new company, called Truvani, where she produces real food without added chemicals, products without toxins, and labels without lies. Hari has been profiled in The New York Times and USA Today and has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and NPR. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Finley, and daughter, Harley.
Her new book Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health, was published on February 19, 2019.