As the internet shakes its collective head in amusement over Vani Hari’s recent epic video rant over Boar’s Head Foods and trolls, the watershed moment sneaking in at the 11:56 mark in the recording probably escaped everyone’s notice.
I’m here to correct that.
Nearly twelve minutes into the Oscar-worthy performance, Hari, the self-christened “Food Babe”, pauses to display and read a viewer comment containing a link to a Forbes article purportedly written by “PR trolls”. This is a screen snapshot from Vani’s video:
Here, Food Babe laments an article “attacking” her and the distinguished (her words, not mine) Dr. Mark Hyman. Hyman, if you’re unfamiliar, wrote the foreword to Hari’s book, The Food Babe Way, and serves on her advisory council. The Forbes article in question, which we must assume Vani has read, points out that both Hari and Hyman sell products made from the very chemicals they claim are toxic.
So why is all of this important?
Because one of the reasons Vani Hari is attacking Boar’s Head Foods is over the alleged use of the “cancer-causing” (wink wink, nudge nudge) class IV caramel coloring in some of their hams. Drum roll, please:
Do you know who sells a diet supplement made with the same class IV caramel coloring used by Boar’s Head? Why, none other than the distinguished Dr. Mark Hyman! And where was this pointed out to Vani Hari? In the very Forbes article she discusses in her video.
It takes a lot of chutzpah to go on a rant about a company using a “carcinogenic” compound, and then post a video highlighting an article that proves your distinguished advisor/co-author is selling that same carcinogenic compound! (Extra points for dismissing the authors who warned you about your double standards as trolls instead of addressing the problem.)
Labeling everyone who points out your errors a “troll” is a great way to play the martyr and avoid discussing the great wrong you’re doing. My Fear Babe co-author Marc Draco coined the term “straw troll”, an informal fallacy, for moments like this:
“[…] a form of an ad hominem attack where the speaker accuses an opponent of trolling simply because they are presenting rebuttal which the speaker is unable to refute”
Food Babe doesn’t try to refute Hyman’s use of the same caramel coloring allegedly found in some Boar’s Head meats, even though she knows the Forbes article well enough to call the authors (myself and Kavin Senapathy) “PR trolls”. But Hari’s “head in the sand” approach doesn’t stop there. To wit:
- She condemns Boar’s Head for cooking up food with “natural flavorings”, while simultaneously selling products made with (wait for it!) natural flavors. In fact, there are dozens of products in the Food Babe store and affiliate lineup with compounds she says are toxic.
- To hear Vani Hari tell the story, Boar’s Head is an evil empire for the supposed use of GMOs, but Hari has been selling a product derived from GMO corn since November, 2011.
As the year 2016 dawns, it’s becoming clear that Food Babe’s way of dealing with scientific and journalistic criticism hasn’t changed at all since 2015: Ignore the facts and call everyone who’s caught you with your organic, non-GMO cotton pants down a “PR troll”.
Bravo, Vani. Bravo. When you’re done congratulating yourself, you and your compatriots will still be selling dozens of products that contain the same “harmful” additives you’re warning your unsuspecting followers about.
Straw Troll meme by Marc Draco, using artwork by Deviant Art user “egohankerrigan” (egohankerrigan.deviantart.com). Meme creator/artist not necessarily in agreement with the viewpoints expressed in this article, which are solely those of the author.
Food Babe and Dr. Mark Hyman screen snapshots and product image captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.