Food Babe: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

March 9, 2015   62 Comments

As a food blogger, I have watched Food Babe’s growing influence with awe.

Food Babe Criticism

Look at that woman go! She has millions of readers every month and has convinced huge food corporations to listen to her concerns and change things. For example, Subway stopped using Azodicarbonamide (a dough conditioner also found in yoga mats) in their breads because she managed to get thousands of people to sign a petition against it.

I am definitely supportive of less added ingredients and chemicals in our food, but I wonder what else the Food Babe Army could help us change.

For example, the 9-grain bread at Subway is not 100% whole wheat. Everyone thinks it IS whole wheat because Subway calls it 9-grain - but take one look at the ingredients and you will see that they use wheat flour (not 100% whole wheat flour).

Right there is why Food Babe drives me crazy. Azodicarbonamide is a chemical – yes, that is true. But, I would argue that the amount of it used is very small so it is most likely harmless. On the other hand, crappy bread (eaten on a daily basis) is much more harmful to our health.

What about protesting to get Subway to give us healthier bread and stop misleading consumers?

Food Babe makes a mountain out of a mole hill when there is a mountain standing right there. A big one.

Food Babe isn’t a trained scientist and, frankly, it shows. I am a trained scientist – I don’t flash my Ph.D. in science very often – but I believe that most of the people who think Food Babe is completely wrong are scientists. Her interpretation of scientific work is too simplistic and frequently shows she doesn’t understand scientific methods or how scientists interpret data.

She is the queen of fear mongering about food additives and GMOs and she has used her absolutist stance to build a huge audience.

But her work does some good! I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that her stand against antibiotics in chicken (and her Food Babe Army) helped Chick-Fil-A decide to end its use. McDonald’s just decided to do the same. The CDC has been warning about the growing antibiotic resistance of superbugs and has found that antibiotic use in animals in one of the causes.

Thank you, Food Babe and Food Babe Army!

Many consumers are concerned about potentially harmful chemicals in their food and Food Babe helps them unify their voice into a scream.

I am certainly supportive of changing our food system to get healthier, safer food for generations to come. But, I want those changes grounded in fact and reasonable debate.

She has just been named one of the 50 most influential people on the internet. I would love for her to use that influence to reduce the amount of added sugar in our food, stop marketing junk food to children, stop misleading food marketing, end Lunchables, get more fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods that need them, etc. etc.

What do you think of Food Babe? Please keep it calm on here today.

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And this is exactly why I love YOU, Snack Girl!

I think she has done some good but I agree on the fear mongering. I don't like that she points out ingredients that aren't clear and automatically says they're artificial or GMO. (she also doesn't corroborate a lot of her info and that drives me crazy).

I believe you have some credibility Snack Girl! I think you should have a conversation with her about just the issues you have talked about. There is a lot of work to be done. Congrats to her and to you as well. Keep up the good work.

Lighten up! She's on our side.

Huh. Never heard of her. Seriously.

I follow you... I bought your book... Who is Food Babe? And who cares? You Rock Lisa.

Please do not!!! be modest about your credentials. If I had known about your PhD previously, your words would have had 900% more credibility. Put that PhD on everything associated with what you say, and you will bypass the nonscientists by a mile.

I spent over a decade getting educated and licensed as a psychotherapist. I make sure that people know that they are not dealing with an uneducated quack by adding my credentials to my name as much as possible. I am not bragging, I am clarifying and marketing and justifying my opinions.

Congratulations on your PhD!

I was a part of the Food Babe army until she started getting personal and radical with her adversaries. I got scared and left.

Very well said!

I'm with Pam... never heard of her.

I don't know what Jan is talking about, you are in no need of "lightening up." The tone of this post is completely even-keeled. I completely agree with you and think Dianne had a great idea - reach out to Food Babe and have a conversation.

@Sue I thank you for your comment. My thinking re: Ph.D. that since it is not in nutrition or food science - that it would be misleading to feature it. On the other hand, my degree has taught me how to interpret scientific studies from most specialties especially in the life sciences.

I am not hiding it - but a bit leery of giving the wrong impression.

Thank you Snack Girl!

I sure do appreciate Food Babe trying to get caramel color taken out of all products at supermarket. I get deathly sick from caramel color. I really do not feel safe eating away from my kitchen. Every turkey has caramel color unless I go to health food grocery store for organic fresh. I definitely read information from both of you every day and use information that applies to me.

Add me to the list of "never heard of her," Snack Girl. You food bloggers run in rarified circles, I guess. I love the points you brought up, and hope (along with you) that the biggest issues will receive the spotlight.

Is she ultimately simply another Jenny McCarthy?

I love food Babe's blog. If you are not afraid of what she is saying you should be. It's sad what they are putting in our food and if we all don't fight to make changes we are all going to be sick!

Thank you thank you thank you. From one Massachusetts gal to another!! We are number 1 in Community Supported Agriculture for a reason. Keep up the good work, Snack Girl. This post was thoughtful and well written and just what I've been saying all the while about...this topic. #science

I recently caught her on an episode of the Hallmark Channel Home & Family. She definitely peaked my interest so I took a peek at her website and decided her advice is just too darn hard to follow. I just don't have enough minutes in a day to break down nutrition labels. I think in order for her to approve what you eat, you'd have to grow or raise it yourself without any pesticides, hormones, etc., etc.

I've been a follower of Food Babe. Personally, I'm glad to hear you have legitimate credentials, because I will take the things you post more seriously than I had before. Just one opinion.

Agree with you that some of our bigger and biggest nutritional issues seem to go unnoticed and should be addressed first! then we can deal with the other ingredients that comprise less than 1% of what were eating. Less sugars is ideal starting point.

AMEN! what about school meals? I work in a school where 80% of our students eat free and reduced lunch and what we serve them,especially breakfast, is full of sugar.

Ahem! While I totally agree that Vani has brought to light many things that need to change. I also feel that she should look at the amount of hidden sugars in food. And while her take on GMO's is a little extreme especially when you look at the scientific data on GMO's. You are not the first person I've seen recently to question the Food Babe's push on some things.

I agree, lighten up. She's on our side! I'm actually disappointed in how petty this post sounds... sorry I read it!

Hello Snack Girl,

Coming from a science background myself, I understand your comment about interpreting scientific studies. I have always found you to be intelligent and logical in all the work you do for your site. I have never heard of Food Babe and have no interest in following her.

Thank you for having the guts to say something like this! I have never even heard of food babe but you are sooooo right that there are more important battles to be fought sometimes!

Very well written post. You articulated what I felt the one time I read her blog. Your information has me reading labels more carefully to try and improve my families diet. BTW, just made the stove-top granola and it received two thumbs up.

Great post! You just got my attention all over again ; ))

Hi Snack Girl, PhD...,

What it takes to get a PhD in ANYTHING is beyond the comprehension of most people, and a very small part of the population ever earns those credentials. I don't think you would be misrepresenting anything if you attached them to your name: what you learned cannot be taken from your brain, and it makes you an expert in many, many things. Most of us who have struggled through the challenges of advanced degrees have overwhelming respect for the knowledge gained as those letters by your name were earned.

Please consider routinely adding them to your name, no matter what your major was, because you obviously out-studied the rest of us!

Don't care for her. I signed up for her newsletter not too long ago. Got a couple of them and unsubscribed. I wasn't impressed with the hysteria and hyperbole. I unsubscribed. Love your blog, Lisa. I've subscribed for years. You're calm, you give details, reasons and you never sound like a used car salesman ... And that's a good thing!!! :-D

I recently bought PB2 and read Food Babe's opinion on it. Her lead-up to why she feels it is dangerous and horrible made me think I should regret buying it. Then I saw that she objects to it simply because she feels it is not a "whole" food and that peanuts "may contain aflatoxin, a known carcinogen." I understand her concern, nobody wants to ingest carcinogens. But I just can't freak and wonder about everything I'm eating. Name me *any* food and I can think of a Debbie Downer reason for why you should not eat it. Rice, arsenic. Chicken, antibiotics. Water, toxic leakage in the ground. I agree whole foods are best but PB2 is powdered peanut butter. I gave up on it anyway; it's not peanuty enough for me!

I also agree, she is on our side!

I am with Aviva. Well put Snack-girl. Thanks for being an advocate for change without hysterics. I also applaud you

for your humility and open mind.

Never heard of food babe until i just read this. You keep on keeping on Snack Girl....Love your articles and enthusiasm & your book:)

CSPI-Center for Science in the Public Interest, is one of the best ways to fight for better food. This organization accepts no advertising, tests foods, and advocates for healthier foods. They have a website, and are on Facebook, and put out a newsletter "Nutrition Action". All are great sources of information. This organization is responsible for getting trans-fats out of food, and many, many more battles with big food companies, etc. Check them out!

My money is on you Snack Girl!! I feel your work is for the good of all not to gain notoriety. Please continue to fight the good fight!

The way I see it is YOU should be one of the most influential.

You just make sense!! You mix in your own twist on things and

I have learned tons from this site. Never heard of For Babe.

You keep up the good works!

OOPS... Meant Never heard of FOOD BABE!

Totally agree! I loved Foodbabe a few years ago when I first started reading her blog. But she kept getting more and more extreme.

I started feeling so overwhelmed with all the "bad" things in food that it made me want to give up trying to eat healthy!

I still like some of her recipes but I skip the fear-mongering posts.

I like Food Babe [FB] along with Organic Consumers Assoc., Cornucopia, One Ingredient Chef, SnackGirl, 100 Days of Real Food, DailyKos, Grist, Mother Jones Earth, Dr Mercola, BHG, Martha Stewart, Living Maxwell, M.Pollan, M Bitterman, NYT, et al. Some are dramatic, some current news on food, but all are informational and most are basically doing a great job of consumer awareness. FB does alot of research I could do but am glad she does it, she contacts corporations [I used to too], she makes changes happen in processed food, as a consumer I use her charts on better bread choices, sugar alternatives, artificial flavor info, recipes, etc. She is one source. I use what is useful for me and pass on the headline dramatics. I encourage my own critical thinking in my food journey which allows me to consider all sources. I recall a FB video on Subway in which Vani Hari demonstrated how she would create a healthy lunch there if pressed to do so--she chose a vegetable only salad! No bread from steps.:)

I agree with everything you said, Lisa. She makes some really good points and I do read her blog on occasion. Her extreme approach can be a bit much at times though. It makes me think that I might as well just give up grocery shopping and start farming! I have vowed to make the best choices I can, but I do not have the time, or the intelligence to become as obsessed with everything I put into my mouth as she would like me to be.

In my opinion one of the major issues with our food system is portion size. We are so tuned into the "economics" of getting more food for our dollar that the food companies prey on this weakness (you know the idea that more is always better). This is an issue that needs some serious discussion and 'play'. Personally, it seems portion size should be at the top of any agenda to address the issues facing our food system.

By the way, I have never heard of Food Babe and if she doesn't support her ideas with science I find that very problematic. I am trained as a scientist and teach science to college students. I am constantly preaching to my students the importance of data to support an idea and how ideas without data are just idea not scientific fact.

Keep up the good work Snack Girl (and by the way...I'm sooo glad you don't call yourself 'Food Babe'!)

I never heard of this Food Babe quack, and I will certainly avoid anything this Dumbo (dumber than a Bimbo) has to say. Anyone who would listen to an uncredentialed airhead and take advice from them, instead of college educated experts in the field, deserves the consequences of such ignorance. Unfortunately, they inflict this insanity on their children, and the kids end up suffering more than the parents. Child Protective Services needs to be contacted if the food wackos interfere with healthy food choices for their innocent children. They are as dangerous as those anti vaccination loons that endanger infants and others too sick to be vaccinated. It's repulsive.

Yes she has a lot of supporters but she also has a lot of detractors. You know there are Facebook groups devoted to sending the anti-food babe message? When I was reading her page and following her on Facebook my husband would cringe every time I came up with a new food item she told me not to eat. In the end I realized she just wasn't the real deal and dropped her. Since I stopped following her I haven heard one thing about her since so her reach really isn't that far.

I won't lie, seeing Snack Girl review Food Babe had me giddy. I'm in 100% agreement with you. Thank you for the honest review and dose of reality. And I'm with Sue: flaunt those credentials! You earned then and you definitely bump your credibility even more. 😊

What is funny is I am going to guess is folks watch her because she has looks? I am guessing because I have been reading about food and advocacy groups and chefs who are against crappy foods fed to our kids and even politicians local, state and in federal government who have been fighting hard for years over issues she is getting credit for! I mean working hard too. I will give her credit for a market on making those aware who would probably never watch a documentary or new or read a scientific journal but to be honest I HAVE NEVER EVER HEARD OF HER UNTIL JUST NOW! LOL!

Regarding Subway Bread, Food Babe pretty much covers all breads with her list of ingredients to avoid and list of breads without questionable ingredients. Her evidence comes from various Brands' ingredients labels. This may seem simplistic but it is consumer-friendly data I need to make an informed decision.…

I ended up using Alvarado St bread for my daily choice even tho I still enjoy a local Chiabatta bread on occasion which is made with ingredients I can pronounce. In other words, I used it as a handy guide to make good choices.

I haven't heard of her either but some people use scare tactics to get noticed. I do agree that the additives in many products are questionable and that's why we try to eat natural foods. Keep up the good work, Lisa!

Hi Snack Girl. I began following your website when I came across it looking for healthier lunchbox snacks. I read your About and understood you have no background in nutrition/dietetics. You are a mom, wife, and woman trying to eat healthier. However, I am kind of questioning why you would slam Food Babe. She, like a lot of high profile food bloggers, has no degree in nutrition, but neither do you. I cringed when I read about you leaving your cooked oatmeal out overnight (danger zone is 40-140 degrees F), but you did follow up with better advice. You are right in that people will assume that the PhD is in nutrition. Food Babe wins fights that need to be fought. You give recipes that help us get through the day. And I, as a Registered Dietitian, help people muddle through all the information whirling around as we fill our bellies and live our lives as best as we can. And maybe, if we all combine our varied efforts, we can affect positive changes on our diets and food supply.

You are awesome and always on target! Flaunt that PhD - you worked hard for it!!!

I have to echo Pam and Sue Clark - I never heard of her, and one of the reasons I LOVE Snack Girl (Lisa) is the focus on EVIDENCE and not anecdotes. Plus the real world/real life/real food. I don't eat all of your recipes, but I bought and use your book, and I have given it as a gift because I know you are onto something. Let Food Babe be a flash in the pan, and Snack Girl endure with what's real and lasting. Doctor Lisa, YOU ROCK!

Americans seem to me to be science phobic. I watch with amazement as people refuse to vaccinate their children because they have heard or read about all the dreadful side effects which are absolutely not documented and yet ignore the scientific data that show the actual safety of the vaccines and the consequences of the disease. There seems to be no understanding of scientific method. All information, no mater the source is of equal validity.

I'm stunned to read a Registered Dietitian would take the Food Babe side over Snack Girl's. You said yourself that it's your job to "help people muddle through all the information whirling around" around food/nutrition, yet you support a fear-mongering blogger who ignores science over someone with a PhD who knows how to interpret data? She stated pretty clearly how the PhD helps with that, while on the other hand we see Food Babe frequently misinterpreting data. I could even say the same about myself, as a doctoral-level psychologist, as I was taught how to interpret scientific studies and am in a better position to do so than Food Babe. I cringe when I see some of the arguments people like her make. What good is it to have someone fight for change if they are completely misinformed in doing so?

While I wholeheartedly agree with your commentary, I have to be honest when I say that it really bothers me when I see one blogger negatively comment about another. I don't understand the intention behind doing so. Focus on what you do best and leave others out of the equation.

Food Babe is the biggest flake on the internet (okay, she ties for first with many others.)

She doesn't know how air works. Yet people follow her advice on things as complicated as nutrition and toxicology?…

I just checked out Food Babe's website. Anyone who quotes Dr. Mercola (who is well outside mainstream medicine) has lost a little credibility in my book. And, as one scientist to another, it is apparent that she is not one. She could use her influence to do so much more for the food industry. Well said, Snack Girl!

I agree with you 100% if people don't know what they are really talking about it does more harm than good. My daughter thinks she is wiser than a doctor. Of course my daughter is a young mother. I like you wish her army would change and attack the things that are killing us and hurting our young children.

Food Babe - NEVER heard of her!!

...what do you have a Ph.D in??

Snack Girl,

I am a proud Food Babe supporter and I love your work too! I do however, have to add that the Food Babe specifically has said her goal is to help companies change ingredients. I think she sticks pretty true to what she has a passion for. She definitely could use her platform for more (and I hope she does), but she has stayed true to what she wants to do. Also, she did some interviews on talk shows about the 9-grain bread not being whole grain and that people should avoid it.

I am thankful for people like you and the Food Babe that are helping by sharing your voice!

as consumers we don't always make the right/best decision when purchasing out food... its hard, a lot of healthy food options are very expensive and usually hard to find.... on that note, I think Food Babe does an EXCELLENT job at exposing the truth.. the chemicals... etc. I am shocked at how dismissive SG is on "possible chemicals" saying "Its most likely harmless" ... unless its a FACT that its Harmless... its ignorant of a "scientist" to make that statement....

Seriously! You promote SOY! Your credentials mean NOTHING if you don't even understand how damaging SOY is!

Oh MG foodbabe. Thanks for your wise words, Snackgirl. One quick look (my first, as I'd never heard of her before) and I immediately thought she was sprouting opinionated rubbish when I read what she wrote about phytochemicals (literally, chemicals found in plants, from Greek phyto=plant/to grow)! Chemical is not a scary word as it refers to (in this sense) vitamins, nutrients, minerals, all 'chemicals' found in plants! Why use the word wrongly to generate fear? Any dictionary or even Wikipedia could clear that up! Please. I wish someone with seemingly that much influence would get their facts straight. At the very least.

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