The first time I heard about “Food Babe” was two days ago when a sorority sister shared the Gawker article by the blogger Science Babe, “The ‘Food Babe’ Blogger is Full of Shit.” When I read it, I vaguely recalled an attack on the ingredients of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes that I’d heard about, but I’d never heard about the attack on Subway, or even of “Food Babe” or realized that she was the person behind those attacks. As I began to read the article, I was skeptical of everything which is something science has taught me: be skeptical of everything, and question everything. But as I read on, I found words and phrases that made me question “Food Babe” more than the writer of this article. I clicked on the article because I was curious; I kept reading because Science Babe wrote an article attacking pseudoscience (my favorite type of article) with humor that you don’t often find in those types of articles. Most of those articles tend to be more on the serious side, giving you the feeling that if something isn’t done about these pseudoscience claims, the situation will soon become dire, but not this one.
Since I first read the Gawker article when it was published two days ago, there seems to have been an explosion of other articles and blog posts (including this one on Vox, this one on BostInno, and this one from Elle–yes, the fashion magazine) discussing Science Babe’s article and also calling out “Food Babe.”
This is one of my favorite things to come from publicity of the Gawker article. I definitely agree with this point. Just because it’s a scary word you can’t pronounce doesn’t mean that it’s an evil, toxic substance.
I was hesitant to check out “Food Babe” for myself because, as my sorority big sis pointed out, even negative attention is attention “Food Babe” doesn’t deserve, but my curiosity got the better of me, and I found her blog/website. The first thing I noticed about her website were all of the ads (SO MANY ADS), which made me even more skeptical of her because in my experience, websites that are covered in ads like that are the kind you should avoid, unless you’d like to murder your computer. My first goal was to find out what makes her qualified to make all of these claims, so I checked out her About section on her blog…nothing. Her About section is more than half pictures of her with famous people preceeded by a list of “victories” over “evil corporations” that aim to destroy the health of the entire world like Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Kraft, Starbucks, Subway, and Panera Bread; a video showing her before and after “The Food Babe Way;” and a brief bio discussing what led her to starting her blog, what she posts, and how she’s written books (blah, blah, blah). I couldn’t find anything else on her website that helped me, so I tried her Facebook page to see if she’d put anything helpful on there…nothing. Except for this award that made me even more skeptical: “2014 Voted Dr. Oz’s Healthiest Facebook Page.” I checked out the rest of her social media sites, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter, determined to find the information I was looking for from her. Her Instagram account was useless, but she did have a cute picture of a plush bunny with some sort of carrot that looked like it was made out of frosting (doubtful, but that would be funny!). Her Pinterest and YouTube accounts were also unhelpful, but her YouTube did lead me to her Google+. Unfortunately that was also unhelpful, as was her Twitter account, so I took to Google to see what I could find. I didn’t find anything directly from her, instead I found another critical article about her on Science Based Medicine that says she earned her undergraduate degree in computer science, something that was also mentioned in an article praising her on Creative Loafing, and the Wikipedia page dedicated to her.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m great friends with some computer scientists, but compared to health professionals and scientists, they know nothing about the sort of thing this “Food Babe” claims that she knows. I will be trusting my life and future family’s life to health professionals and the science that backs them up. My children will be vaccinated unless they cannot be vaccinated for health reasons, in which case, I will make damn sure that anyone who wants to spend time with them is vaccinated (unless they also cannot be vaccinated). I was an extremely picky eater as a child, for example, I would only eat the vibrant yellow-orange Kraft macaroni and cheese, and I wouldn’t touch anything with lettuce in or on it. As a 23-year-old, I have ventured outside of my childhood comfort zone with food, and now I’ll at least try most things. I discovered that it wasn’t ALL lettuce that I hated, just iceburg, and now I eat romaine salads with feta cheese, tomatoes, and vinaigrette (yum, acetic acid!), and I’ve also tried and liked kale and arugula–I just haven’t incorporated them into my regular diet yet. I stopped regularly eating Easy Mac when I stopped living in dorms–now I only eat it occasionally, when there isn’t anything else in the house that I can take with me to class or work for my lunch or dinner break. I still avoid onions (except scallions) and fresh peppers (I like roasted red peppers) like the plague because their taste is too strong for me, and something about their textures is off-putting to me. However, I will introduce my children to all sorts of foods, including ones that I don’t like, and give them healthy options.
Since I read the Gawker article, I have liked Science Babe on Facebook, and she has shared additional links such as this one from Genetic Literacy Project that has videos showing one of the contributing authors at a “Food Babe” promotional appearance asking questions and trying to engage in friendly dialogue, but “Food Babe” won’t have any of that. This particular article also led me to the Scientists are People movement, part of the inspiration for this post. This movement encourages scientists to share mundane and fascinating everyday information about themselves to show and remind others that scientists aren’t big, scary people out to destroy the world (that would be an evil scientist).
I do work in a lab with rats where we study animal models of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, focusing on the memory and spatial navigation parts of these problems, and I will continue to work in a lab with even more rats during my Ph.D. training. Yes, we induce a “stroke” or Alzheimer’s, and the animals are sacrificed so we can examine their brains and sometimes other parts of their bodies.
But I am not a monster who enjoys torturing animals.
I am an animal-lover. I have had all sorts of pets my entire life: fish, rabbits, cats, dogs, chickens, and goats. I adore horses, and someday I will have an Appaloosa. I love the rats that I work with, and I care for them and do everything I can to make sure that I treat them humanely and lovingly.
I live outside of a small town with my parents, brother, 2 cats, 75 chickens, and 2 goats.
I love spending time with my sorority sisters.
I enjoy taking walks, dancing, swimming, ice skating, and horseback riding.
My boyfriend teases that I’d make a great 1950s housewife because I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping lately to prepare for my big move.
I love being crafty and creating gifts for family and friends.
I used to be artsy. In high school, I played the flute (I was awful), sang in choir, danced, and did color guard. I recently started taking piano lessons because I always wanted to learn.
I like learning new languages. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and 1 year in college, and now I’m learning French too!
I learned to create webpages using HTML and Dreamweaver in school when I was 13…now I’m learning how to do both again at 23.
I have always dreamed of visiting Paris and Brazil.
My only adventure out of the country was a 21-day student ambassador trip to Australia when I was 15.
I am petrified of public speaking, but apparently I’m actually pretty good at it.
My guilty pleasure TV shows are “Say Yes to the Dress” (my big and I have abbreviated it to “SYTTD”) and “Pretty Little Liars.”
There isn’t anything quite like a “SYTTD”/craft/wine night with my big and our cats.
My favorite dessert is frozen custard, and I have a “usual” at each of my favorite custard places: plain lemon at Jarling’s Custard Cup in Champaign and Danville, chocolate custard with peanut butter topping at Ollie’s in Sycamore, and vanilla with peanut butter sauce and hot fudge at any Culver’s.
My all-time favorite TV show is Gilmore Girls.
I’m just a regular person who happens to also love science. #ScientistsArePeople