In the middle of January 2015 I had the privilege of working with some of my food science colleagues in the composition of an open letter to The Food Babe, Vani Hari. Our letter was written with the goal of encouraging Hari and her so-called “Food Babe Army” to take a closer look at some of the values they are touting. Shockingly, Hari responded! While the response was predictable and ignored much of the content of our letter, we got the dialogue started, which was the goal! A like-minded professor at the University of Florida took it upon himself to add some of his own comments to Hari’s response. Dr. Folta’s comments, while a bit more forceful than our original letter, the sentiment echoed our own thoughts about the general lack of supporting evidence which is typical of the claims presented throughout the Food Babe network. This deconstruction of Hari’s response was followed up by a story on the Tellus News Digest in which Dr. Folta and our own group gave more of the reasoning behind our thoughts and motivations in taking on this challenge. Our group was also interviewed for the Sense About Science USA website, which promotes communication of science and “the importance of evidence and transparency” in scientific research.
I can’t believe the amount of attention we have gotten from this letter. I think it is wonderful because it shows that people really do care about this issue. We as scientists need to take the time and effort to clearly communicate the importance of our own research as well as that of our peers. We are missing a huge opportunity to teach and to learn. I cannot wait to continue working with these people as well as the scientific community as a whole to help the public really understand what is in their food and not be afraid of new technology just because nobody has taken the time to explain it to them. Keep an eye out for more posts from me and my colleagues addressing some of the more controversial issues in food science and technology!