“My readers, who I lovingly call the Food Babe Army, is a powerful group of people who are committed to demanding and actively creating change in the food industry. 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.”
In her early 20s, Vani Hari had a health scare that completely changed her outlook on how she wanted to take care of her body. “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,” says the food activist and creator of the impactful blog, foodbabe.com.
Started in 2011, 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. “I launched FoodBabe.com to spread information about what is really in the American food supply. My readers, who I lovingly call the Food Babe Army, is a powerful group of people who are committed to demanding and actively creating change in the food industry. 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,” says Hari, who continuously advocates for good, affordable food in the world.
Hari states that her advocacy has made companies change their ingredients or become more transparent. “They’re not doing this because they want to, or because they finally feel bad about selling us processed food full of artificial additives. They’re doing it because we made them do it, because we finally insisted that it’s not okay to sell us stuff that makes us sick,” she explains, further pointing out that there has been progress. “When you walk around a supermarket these days, it’s clear that the major trends are toward food that is organic, natural, and healthy.”Hari’s work as a food activist has not been easy. She mentions that “critics were unleashed to damage my credibility. They were organized by people with deep pockets, with a mission to protect the billion-dollar processed food and chemical industry.” Her eyes were opened to a whole world of corruption. She realized that “there are so many lies that the food industry has told us over the years,” and decided to tell people all about it. That’s when her latest book Feeding You Lies was born.
“It wasn’t enough to tell people about the ingredients that were making them sick — if I was going to help fix the system, I also needed to expose the lies that kept the status quo in place,” adds Hari. Published in February this year, Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health is a new kind of diet and health book. Hari claims that “after you read it, you’ll become your own food and health investigator, an ingredient expert and smarter label reader.”
Last year, the passionate activist also launched her own brand, Truvani. “At our core, we believe in real food without added chemicals, products without toxins, labels without lies. We currently have four organic products available and have several more in development,” adds Hari about the brand and future plans.
When did you realize that your work is making an impact?
When the frozen yogurt chain Yoforia began changing their misleading marketing messages after a 2012 blog post I wrote gained their attention, I was floored by the influence that my little blog had at the time. I thought: If I can get one company to change for the better, I have the power to hold other food companies accountable. That’s when I became a food activist. My passion for exposing the truth about the food industry soared. I had stumbled, almost unintentionally, into the world of consumer investigations. I was convinced that unless food companies changed, we’d continue to be plagued by dangerous additives in our foods. I discovered that if you believe in something and share the truth, people will take action.
Is there awareness among people regarding how food is grown, made or sold?
Yes, there is growing awareness. People want to know the truth about their food and it’s important because no one else is looking out for us. 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! 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.