Vani Hari, most commonly known as The Food Babe, has a new book out, The Food Babe Way. We wanted to learn more about it so we tapped her for an interview and she shared all the details. Learn more about Vani, her book and how she makes strides in doing what she believes in and fulfilling her goal to make the world a healthier place to live.
- How would you define the Food Babe Way?
The Food Babe Way is a roadmap on how to live in this over-processed food world. I have made it my life’s mission to tell people the truth about what’s in their food and how it could affect their health and now in this book I get to give people this critical information. The Food Babe Way contains the 21 essential habits that I taught myself to take control of my health. This book is for anyone who is tired of the food industry hijacking their taste buds and wants to take matters in their own hands and become their own food investigator, nutritionist and food activist. We have the power to change our health faster than anyone else and I wrote this book to show people how to do just that.
- What led you on this journey to become the Food Babe? Is this something you were always passionate about?
I began my food journey, like most people, by following the standard American diet. As a successful management consultant, I was either in the office eating whatever take-out was available, or I was on the road eating every meal out. Although this lifestyle allowed me to fit in with my peers and work crazy hours, it also took a huge toll on my body and I became very ill. Over the holiday season over ten years ago, I found myself in a hospital bed. I was sick, overweight, and I was ready to change! I made a personal promise that from that point on that I was going to make health my number one priority. FoodBabe.com was born in April 2011, from my years of learning, investigating and researching how to live a healthy lifestyle in this overly processed world.As I learned more about the habits needed for a healthy lifestyle and what dangerous ingredients to avoid, my friends and family begged me to start a blog in order to share everything I had uncovered. My first investigation was into my favorite yogurt chain. After the CEO responded to my writings by yanking some of the misleading marketing, I continued writing about the injustices and corrupt practices of the food industry. Over the past three years, FoodBabe.com has grown to have a readership of over 4 million inspired individuals who are seeking to lead heathier lives and rid our food system of deadly ingredients. 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.
- For those who are new to the concept of GMOs, what should they know?
In the U.S., our food is missing a very important label — one that President Obama, the FDA and the USDA have made a concerted effort to deny us from having. This label is for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are in 80% of our processed food. GMOs are foods biologically manufactured in laboratories — injected with new DNA, viruses, herbicides, insecticides and/or other chemicals — to be resistant to synthetic chemicals and are completely different than hybridizing techniques allowed by nature. These foods have only been in our food supply since 1996 and long-term health impacts were not conducted before they were approved. As I mentioned in my recent op-ed in the NY Times, these foods can be labeled “natural” because the FDA has completely been asleep at the wheel. GMOs receive patents by the U.S. Patent Office because they have been deemed to be unique and different. Over 64 countries around the world require GMOs to be labeled or regulated. The U.S. does not. This is one of the most un-American policies that exist. We have the right to know what’s in our food just like people in countries like China and Russia do — especially when studies have linked GMOs to a wide variety of diseases like infertility and cancer.
- What is the most-shocking ingredient you have ever found in food?
I was floored when I discovered that several American food companies are using harmful additives that are not used — and in some cases banned — in other countries. One of those products is an iconic staple that almost every American, me included, has had at one time or another: Kraft Mac & Cheese. I found it hypocritical that Kraft was selling Mac & Cheese overseas with natural dyes paprika and beta carotene (real food) and meanwhile, here they were selling petroleum-based food dyes (yellow #5 and yellow #6 linked to a myriad of health issues) to their fellow Americans. This double standard made me so angry, I started a petition. After receiving over 350,000 signatures and leading a strong 7 month campaign, Kraft announced that it’s starting to remove artificial food dyes from some Mac & Cheese varieties marketed to children and now has started to make those changes to additional products. It’s alarming that the FDA allows additives that are banned or restricted in other countries and linked to health risks like azodicarbonamide, BHT, BHA, and parabens.
- In your book, you have an excellent checklist at the end of every chapter to remind the readers what they should do every day to be healthy. What would you say is the most important?
Changing where you shop for groceries is essential. More natural grocery stores are popping up that don’t have any Coca-Cola or Doritos on their shelves, while offering more organic produce and products instead. Seek out those types of grocery stores, especially those that have banned certain ingredients such as Whole Foods Market, Sprouts and Earth Fare. Ever since I began to shop exclusively at stores where I could find organic and chemical-free foods, I realized how much it could affect how I looked and felt.
- We know you love juice as much as we do, so for all of our juicers in the Reboot community, what is your number one juicing tip they might not know yet?
To chew your juice! It’s important to swish around the juice in your mouth or move your jaw up and down for a couple of seconds before swallowing it to release saliva that contains important digestive enzymes. The digestive enzymes are crucial in delivering key nutrients to your cells. I personally like to use less of an obvious gesture and keep the juice in my mouth a few seconds before swallowing it.
Vani Hari is a revolutionary food activist, creator of FoodBabe.com and author of The Food Babe Way. In her work, Hari has influenced how food giants like Kraft, Subway, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks create their products, steering them towards more healthful policies. She lives in North Carolina and travels around the world to speak about health and food awareness. She is currently planning her next campaign.
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