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Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe): The Jenny McCarthy of food

NOTE ADDENDUM – Ed.

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a beer snob. I make no bones about it, I like my beer, but I also like it to be good beer, and, let’s face it, beer brewed by large industrial breweries seldom fits the bill. To me, most of the beer out being sold in the U.S., particularly beer made by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors can easily be likened to cold piss from horses with kidney disease (you need protein to get beer foam, you know), only without the taste. I have to be mighty desperate and thirsty before I will partake of such swill. I will admit that there is one exception, namely Blue Moon, which is manufactured by a division of MillerCoors, but that’s the only exception I can think of. Ever since I discovered Bell’s Oberon, a nice local (well, statewide, anyway) wheat ale, I can do without Blue Moon. Sadly, Oberon is only brewed during the spring and summer months; so when I want a similar bit of brew during the winter months sometimes I’m tempted by Blue Moon. Otherwise, I’m generally happy with one of the many craft and microbrews made by local brewers such as Short’s Brewing Company (whose brewpub I had the pleasure of visiting about a month ago) and Bells Brewery.

Despite my general hostility to Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors products as examples of everything that is wrong with American beer, I have to say that I almost feel sorry for the people running those corporations right now. Unfortunately, they’ve fallen victim to the latest quack making a name for herself on the Internet by peddling pseudoscience. As is my wont, I’ll go into my usual excruciating detail shortly. But first, to whom am I referring?

FBhari

Enter the font of misinformation that is The Food Babe

Like Mark Crislip, who recently wrote about her about her mind-numbingly stupid antivaccine post, until recently I had no idea who she was, but unfortunately, I do now. She’s photogenic and also has a talent and penchant for making her utter ignorance of chemistry and science work for her as a powerful P.R. tool that has catapulted her from an obscure food blogger to a guest on television shows such as The Doctors and that repository of all medical crankery and quackery, The Dr. Oz Show, where The Great and Powerful Oz himself praised her activities as part of the “Oz effect.” Her name is Vani Hari, but she is much better known by her blog name, The Food Babe. She’s been featured on this blog before, not surprisingly, both by Mark Crislip and Steve Novella, who dismantled her claims that microwaving food somehow destroys its nutritional value and renders it full of “toxins” and her attack on Subway for using azodicarbonamide, which she dubbed the “yoga mat chemical.”

Unfortunately, in that latter case, when faced with a young, telegenic, clever but scientifically ignorant blogger who used her popular website and blog to gather a bunch of signatures rooted in the same ignorance she promotes, Subway caved, even though there is no good evidence that azodicarbonamide is harmful and lots of good evidence that it’s useful as a maturing agent. Basically, when it’s added to flour, it makes bread dough rise better. It also improves the handling properties of dough, making it drier, more cohesive and more pliable, allowing it to hold together better during kneading. No wonder uber-quack Mike Adams is so impressed with her. The two are kindred spirits, given how Mike Adams has been doing, in essence, the same sort of thing with a mass spectrometer, using it to measure heavy metals in various foods and supplements as fodder for fear mongering campaigns to demonize the food industry, not to mention to undercut competitors in the supplement business.

Last week, The Food Babe turned her ever-scientifically-ignorant sights on one of my favorite beverages of all, beer. As befits her growing skill at using PR combined with rants against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and scary sounding chemicals (i.e., all of them), she targeted large breweries like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, charging that they had all sorts of nefariously toxic “chemicals” and GMO-derived products in their beers and challenging them to publish their complete ingredient list. As typically happens when The Food Babe takes aim at a corporation, these beer behemoths hemmed and hawed for a couple of days as they figured out a response—and that response was, ultimately, to cave just like Subway:

Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, two of the world’s biggest beer makers, are posting online what’s inside bottles of Budweiser and Miller Lite after pressure from a food blogger.

The two companies on Thursday posted the ingredients of some of their most popular brands, and promised to be more transparent in the future. The announcements come a day after blogger Vani Hari posted a petition on FoodBabe.com to get major brewers to list what’s in their beverages.

Anheuser-Busch posted the ingredients for its two top-selling brands on its website, tapintoyourbeer.com. It lists the same ingredients for Budweiser and Bud Light: Water, barley malt, rice, yeast and hops. The company, which also makes Beck’s, Busch and Michelob beers, said it will list the ingredients for all of its other brands online “in the coming days.” It’s the first time Anheuser-Busch has detailed the ingredients of its beers.

Here’s the problem. All you have to do to see that this won’t satisfy Hari is to go back to her original charges and petitions. Of course the main ingredients of beer are water, barley malt, rice, yeast, and hops! That’s how beer is made. The original petition paints the issue as a comparison of Coca Cola and Windex having to reveal their ingredients but beer not having to do so. Then there’s a video featuring Hari starting out gushing about how her husband “loves beer” and that’s why she wanted so badly to find out what’s “really” in beer. There’s then a list that scrolls down the screen to her right of—you guessed it!—a whole lot of chemicals with scary-sounding names plus—of course!—the dreaded GMOs:

I was tempted to leave the deconstruction of Hari’s claims to the reader as an exercise, to see how much you grok science-based medicine, but then this would turn into the all-time shortest Gorski post in the history of SBM, and we can’t have that, now, can we?

Scary chemical names and origins as a propaganda weapon

I must confess. I didn’t know that there was caffeine in beer until I perused the list that flew by in Hari’s video above. It seems rather counterproductive. On the other hand, I do like the occasional Irish coffee, which also combines alcohol and caffeine. Never mind. In any case, her strategy is very transparent, but unfortunately it’s also very effective: Name a bunch of chemicals and count on the chemical illiteracy of your audience to result in fear at hearing their very names. However, if you have any background in chemistry, much of what Hani is doing is almost painfully transparent, a veritable insult to one’s intelligence and training. Here are some examples.

Particularly hilarious are some of the “evil” chemicals listed, which include

  • Calcium phosphate, dibasic
  • Calcium phosphate, monobasic
  • Calcium phosphate, tribasic

What’s the difference between these three forms of calcium phosphate? I know the answer because my undergraduate degree is in chemistry. To make it very simple, these are all different forms of calcium phosphate that differ in the ratio of calcium ion to phosphate ion that depends upon the charge on the phosphate ion. Calcium ion holds a +2 charge, and the ratio of calcium to phosphate in the salt must be neutral. That’s it. Monobasic calcium phosphate contains a one-to-two ratio of calcium to phosphate, because the phosphate in this form holds a -1 charge. It’s acidic; so when it reacts with alkali it produces carbon dioxide and a salt, which is why it is often used as a leavening agent to make baked goods rise. Dibasic calcium phosphate has a one-to-one ratio of calcium to phosphate, because the phosphate in it has a -2 charge, having lost one hydrogen ion. It’s sometimes used as a dietary supplement and a tableting agent. It’s also more neutral, and a lot less soluble in water. Tribasic calcium phosphate has three calcium ions to two phosphate ions, because the phosphate ions have a -3 charge. Now here’s the thing. In aqueous solution, there is always going to be a mixture of these three forms, because at a pH of around 4 (the pH of most ales and lagers) different proportions of the phosphate ions will have differing numbers of hydrogen ions associated with them, from one to three. I could go into a lot more detail, and almost certainly chemists reading this might take issue with my simplification, but in reality what we’re talking about is a combination of calcium ion and phosphate ion in aqueous solution at a pH of around 4-4.5. Listing them as three different chemicals is deceptive. Sure, in solid (i.e., crystal) form they have different properties, this means little in dilute aqueous solution.

She pulls exactly the same deceptive trick with sodium phosphate, the three forms of which are basically sodium salts of phosphoric acid as formed at different pHs. At low pH, more of the phosphate will be monobasic; at high pH more will be tribasic. Again, it’s an equilibrium where the proportion of mono-, di-, and tri-basic forms of phosphate depends on the pH. In fact, that’s how you can make phosphate buffers of any pH you want: Vary the proportions of di- and monobasic forms of phosphate, like so. In chemistry, according to the Bronsted-Lowry acid-base theory, an acid is a proton donor and a base is a proton acceptor. Boiled down to a very simple explanation, that’s where the “basic” in mono-, di-, and tribasic comes from, the number of protons the phosphate group can accept.

In her petition, Hari complains:

When I called and emailed these companies, they gave me the runaround about their ingredients — providing basic information but not the full story.

Who can blame them? Surely MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch were aware of the deceptive “yoga mat chemical” gambit used by Hari to such effect earlier this year. I wouldn’t give Hari the time of day, either. Unfortunately, companies live and die by public perception. It’s far easier to give a blackmailer like Hari what she wants than to try to resist or to counter her propaganda by educating the public. And, make no mistake, blackmail is exactly what Vani Hari is about. (NOTE ADDED AFTER PUBLICATION: Forbes blogger Trevor Butterworth calls this sort of strategy “quackmail.” Damn. Another term, like “quackademic medicine,” that I wish I’d thought of. Meanwhile Jay Brooks calls it “yellow journalism,” which to me is being far to kind to the Food Babe, who has demonstrated her intolerance of dissent and outright intellectual dishonest time and time again. That’s why I think Tom Cizauskas is more accurate to refer to what the Food Babe does as “calumny.”)

Oh, no, there’s antifreeze in my beer! Or is there?

I’ve frequently deconstructed and, at times, mocked what I like to call the “toxins” gambit as applied to vaccines by antivaccinationists. Basically, the toxins gambit is a fallacious trope in which antivaccinationists list the scary sounding chemicals in vaccines and use that list to portray vaccines as full of “toxins.” Of course, they don’t take into account the simple fact that the dose makes the poison and these chemicals are present in vaccines in such a small quantity that they are not dangerous. Another tactic often used as part of the toxins gambit is to pick scary-sounding chemicals in vaccines that sound dangerous but aren’t, at least not in the concentrations in vaccines. A great example is formaldehyde. There are, indeed, trace amounts of formaldehyde in vaccines from the manufacturing process, in which formaldehyde is used to kill the viruses used and/or to denature the proteins from the viruses. However, formaldehyde is a normal product of metabolism, and the amount of formaldehyde in vaccines is minor compared to the amount in the body and the amount to which we’re exposed every day.

And that’s part of what you need to know before you read the Food Babe “expose” that started this whole thing. It’s nearly a year old and called “The Shocking Ingredients In Beer“. This rather lengthy article is a rather long example of just that, the toxins gambit. Her entire list consists of various ingredients with no context given other than the scariest—deceptively so—spin. No concentrations are provided, ignoring the principle of dose-response and the dose making the poison. She lists propylene glycol, of course, as being in “antifreeze.” Of course, propylene glycol is also in vaccines, and, ironically enough, it’s the carrier used in most e-cigarettes. In any case, as has been pointed out to me multiple times, propylene glycol is an ingredient that has been generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Indeed, here’s what the FDA website says about it:

Propylene glycol is metabolized by animals and can be used as a carbohydrate source. Propylene glycol can be ingested over long periods of time and in substantial quantities (up to 5 percent of the total food intake) without causing frank toxic effects. Propylene glycol monostearate is readily hydrolysed in vivo and the propylene glycol and fatty acid moieties enter their respective metabolic pathways. At lethal or near lethal doses (6 g per kg or more), however, it has been reported to cause kidney damage in several species and toe deformities in chicks. These doses contrast with the few mg per kg per day estimated in Section III of this report to be the human daily dietary intake of propylene glycol. The Select Committee has weighed the available information and concludes that: There is no evidence in the available information on propylene glycol and propylene glycol monostearate that demonstrates, or suggests reason to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in future.

The CDC has more information.

Because it falls under the category of GRAS, propylene glycol has been widely used as a moistening agent in cosmetics and for various purposes in food. None of this stops a staff writer over at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, NaturalNews.com, to crank up the fear mongering even more, complaining that it’s derived from petroleum and natural gas fossil fuels. I like to call this, for purposes of medical and food uses, the fallacy of origin. In other words, the claim is that, because a substance originated from a source that sounds toxic (or just plain disgusting), it must be bad for you.

And, if you listen to brewer Mitch Steele, it’s not even in beer! It’s used as a food-grade substance in external chilling systems, but he’s never heard of it being added to beer, concluding, “The only way propylene glycol could get into beer is by a leak in the cooling system,” and saying that when he worked at Anheuser-Busch they used to test the beers regularly to make sure they were glycol-free. Another brewer, Steve Parkes, points out that the main reason such substances are listed is because every production process aid has to be listed, regardless of whether it’s in the final product or not. Steele also points out that food dyes are not commonly used in beer.

Hari pulls the same gambit over isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin, and casein (milk protein). In particular, isinglass bothers her:

But, Guinness beer also contains isinglass, a gelatin-like substance produced from the swim bladder of a fish. This ingredient helps remove any “haziness,” solids, or yeast byproducts from the beer. Mmmmm… fish bladder sounds delicious, doesn’t? The sneaky thing this beer company does like many of the companies mentioned here today is create an illusion of using the best ingredients when in actuality what they tell you publicly on their websites is a complete farce.

The funny thing is, this is nothing new. Guinness has been using finings (substances to clear the beer) containing isinglass since the mid- to late 19th century and is generally considered natural. It’s used to help any remaining yeast and solid particles settle out of the final product, because as the isinglass passes through the beer it attracts particles from the fermented beer that create an unwanted haziness. It forms a jelly-like mass that settles to the bottom of the cask, where it’s easily separated from the beer. Beer will clear on its own, but isinglass speeds up the process and doesn’t affect the final flavor of the beer. It’s also been noted that isinglass is rarely used today in the beer brewing process. In other words, isinglass is nothing more than a form of gelatin derived from fish swim bladders rather than from the bones and/or connective tissue of cattle and other domestic animals.

There is a question among some vegans whether mere contact of one’s food or beverage with animal matter and the possibility that trace amounts of animal matter might remain in it are enough to make such foods or beverages off-limits, but if that’s the case then vegans shouldn’t drink most beers, many of which use gelatin instead of isinglass as a clearing agent. There are also a huge number of foods in whose manufacture gelatins from various sources are used. What’s not so funny is that the emphasis on isinglass as having been derived from fish bladders is deceptive, given how few beers are manufactured using it. It’s there for no other purpose than to scream, “Oooh! Fish bladders are used to make beer! Yucky! We must stop this yuckiness!” Of course, isinglass resembles fish bladder about as much as gelatin resembles a cow, but that doesn’t stop our intrepid Food Babe for making in essence, an argument against yuckiness about isinglass and substances like castoreum, an exudate from the castor sacs of the North American Beaver that is used in some perfumes and as food additives, of which she asks, “Do you eat beaver butt?” In other words, if the source is yucky to the Food Babe, it must be unhealthy. Yes, her “reasoning,” such as it is, is just that vacuous.

Indeed, the Food Babe has postulated her very own rule:

When you look at the ingredients [in food], if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

As everyone’s favorite chemist Joe Schwarcz said, Hari should then stay as far away from cyanocobalamine as possible. Not only is it hard to pronounce but it has cyanide! Oh, wait. That’s vitamin B12. Josh Bloom helpfully provides a whole list of difficult-to-pronounce chemical names for some very common substances, some of which are necessary and quite healthy.

Oh, noes! GMOs!

Perhaps the most horrific thing of all about beer to the Food Babe is that MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch apparently use GMO-derived products to make their beer:

Most beers brewed commercially are made with more GMO corn than barley. Many of the companies I contacted dodged the GMO question – however Miller Coors had a very forthcoming and honest response. They stated “Corn syrup gives beer a milder and lighter-bodied flavor” and “Corn syrups may be derived from a mixture of corn (conventional and biotech.)”, admitting their use of GMOs.

And:

Dextrose and maltose can come from a variety of substances that are sweet, but likely are derived from GMO corn because it is super cheap for a company to use corn instead of fruit or other non-GMO sources. With cheap beer – you are not just getting a cheap buzz, you are getting the worst of the worst. Just like with cheap fast food – if you don’t invest in your beer – you will be drinking a lower quality product like Pabst Blue Ribbon that is made from GMO Corn and Corn Syrup.

Hey, Vani, don’t diss my PBR! I lived in Chicago, and that’s blasphemy! (Actually, PBR is one of the only beers manufactured by “big beer” that I can stomach, at least when it’s on tap, but it’s not one of my favorites.)

In any case, this is pure silliness, nothing more than tying GMO fear mongering to scary chemical name fear mongering. They’re too crappy tastes that test crappy together. I don’t feel the need to discuss the lack of validity of the anti-GMO nonsense that’s being peddled, other than to point out that the most “damning” studies presented by anti-GMO activists to convince people that GMOs are pure evil have been thoroughly discredited by multiple sources. In any case, it’s the naturalistic fallacy all over again. The basic fact is that the wheat, barley, and other grains used to make beer have been constantly genetically modified over many centuries through selective breeding, as has nearly every plant commonly farmed by humans for consumption. Ditto the very yeast used to ferment the grain products into beer. Indeed, there are many different strains of yeast maintained by many different laboratories, often with the help of scientists. Indeed, yeast are quite adept at swapping genes quite promiscuously; so in the wild yeast is constantly being “genetically engineered.”

In the end, Hari recommends German beers, because the Germans have stricter beer purity laws, organic beers (because, organic, of course), and craft beers and microbrews, because they use higher quality ingredients and are apparently less likely to contain GMOs. Ironically, this is good advice but not for the reason Hari thinks. It’s good advice because such beers tend to be much, much better than the mass-produced, tasteless brews concocted by massive companies like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

As for whether beer is healthy or not, that is an entirely different matter. There are many reasons to recommend not drinking a lot of beer. Beer is an alcoholic beverage, and too much alcohol contributes to a number of diseases, such as cirrhosis and various cancers. It also has a lot of calories, which can contribute to weight gain when consumed in excess—or even not in excess if the extra calories are enough to put one “over the top.” None of these reasons include any of the reasons Hari lists, such as use of GMO-derived grains and sugars and the various scary-sounding chemicals that are in beers. Whatever grain of a possibly reasonable point (such as whether various food colorings are necessary) is completely drained by her tsunami of pseudoscientific nonsensical fear mongering about chemicals, because chemicals she can’t pronounce are to her inherently bad.

Who is this “Food Babe,” anyway?

It’s a marker of just what a double-edged sword the Internet is. While the Internet is the most fantastic piece of technology ever devised for spreading knowledge and empowering anyone to speak up, there’s a dark side. That dark side consists of people like Vani Hari. No Internet, no Food Babe, no chemically illiterate, scientifically ignorant rabble rousing. How did she get her start? What are her qualifications?

The second question is easy to answer. She has no relevant qualifications. She isn’t a scientist. She isn’t a doctor. She isn’t a dietician. She has no training in nutrition. It’s not for nothing that she’s been referred to as the Mike Adams of food activism, which is not a compliment. In any case, according to her Wikipedia entry she has a B.S. in Computer Science and began her career as a banking consultant. In a story about how she got her start, Hari said:

I suffered from a lot of health problems early on in my career. I got a really cool job that demanded a lot of hours and traveling, so I was away from home eating whatever people in the office brought in. I got so sick and so overweight that I gained about 30 pounds within a few months, that I had appendicitis. A lot of people think that appendicitis has nothing to do with the way you eat, it’s a random occurrence, a lot of doctors think that it is just random, but I have no doubt that the reason why I had appendicitis was because of the way I was eating. It was kind of that life changing moment that brought me to bring health as my number one priority,” said Hari.

Hari, after learning and reading book upon book about living clean, taught herself how to eat and live a healthy lifestyle despite a busy schedule. From reading and learning, she decided to she wanted to spread her knowledge, so she began blogging.

“I said, ‘OK, yeah I will start a blog.’ So I started it last year in April, and I write about things I do on a daily basis,” said Hari.

Yes, it would appear that the Food Babe got her education from popular books and Google University and somehow got the messianic bug to save the world! Maybe a better way to describe her is the Jenny McCarthy of the food industry. Of course, I don’t mean that as a compliment. Just as Jenny McCarthy has been a prime force spreading fear and ignorance about vaccines, Vani Hari has been a malignant force promoting ignorance about food. Sure, mixed in with all the pseudoscience, antivaccine beliefs, and admiration of cranks like Russell Blaylock, is the occasional bit of good advice about eating more vegetables, avoiding too much processed food, and recipes that, for all I know, might actually be tasty. But the price is too high, buried as the occasional trivial bit of good advice is under the tsunami of nonsense.

She sure does have a talent for self-promotion, though. Come to think of it, that’s a lot like Jenny McCarthy, too.

ADDENDUM: Apparently the Food Babe noticed some of the blog posts quite rightly criticizing her for her disingenuous fear mongering and grandstanding and responded. It’s all the same blather about the evils of GMOs and corn syrup and such, but one paragraph does deserve a response:

There are a few blog posts circulating that indicate propylene glycol is used in the external chilling system at breweries and that it’s never is added to beer. They go as far to say that the only way it could be in beer is if there is a tank leak. Well, I’m not talking about leaking tanks here. The chemical Propylene Glycol Alginate (PGA) is added to some beers as a stabilizer for foam control and it is sold as an additive under various commercial names such as Stabilfoam. Another potential source of PGA is as a carrier for some “natural flavors” in fruit-flavored and cider beers. Propylene Glycol is added to many foods and drinks, it’s a very common food additive and I see it on ingredient lists everywhere at the grocery store. I know this because ingredient lists are on those items – but rarely on beer. In Germany, Propylene Glycol Alginate is listed as an ingredient on this bottle of Corona as “E405 Alginat” (the European food additive number for Propylene Glycol is E405), and you will also find it on this ingredient list on Sinebrychoff’s website in Finland. So, I’m really curious to know if and what other beers Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors may add this ingredient to.

Whoopie. So she found one beer that uses Propylene Glycol Alginate to stabilize foam. Sounds damning, right? Wrong. The chemical ignorance in her claim is silly. Propylene Glycol Alginate is not the same thing as propylene glycol, as a quick visit to something as easy as Wikipedia would reveal, if the Food Babe had even a modicum of chemical knowledge to realize it. Here’s the Wikipedia entry:

Chemically, propylene glycol alginate is an ester of alginic acid, which is derived from kelp. Some of the carboxyl groups are esterified with propylene glycol, some are neutralized with an appropriate alkali, and some remain free.

What this means is that propylene glycol alginate is alginic acid (derived from kelp) with propylene glycol groups attached to some of the carboxyl groups. It is not the same chemical as propylene glycol, not even close. It is not antifreeze. And the Food Babe is still an idiot.

Posted in: Nutrition, Science and the Media

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327 thoughts on “Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe): The Jenny McCarthy of food

  1. Chris says:

    Dr. Gorski,

    Could you enlighten me about one of the troubling things about beer I’ve read in the past but honestly don’t know enough about to sort quack from fact – that is the production of n-nitroso compounds in the brewing process? I had read that many beer samples test positive for n-nitrosodimethylamine which seems rather concerning although there doesn’t appear to be any research into how relevant that would be (I suppose analogous to how it’s hard to sort out relative risk of red meat, cured red meat – nitrate vs smoked curing, etc).

    I’d appreciate your insight.

    1. Max says:

      I can actually answer this one. There used to be nitrosamine worries back when maltsters were using direct fired kilning techniques. That technology is nearly completely phased out now in favor of indirect kilning, which doesn’t result in nitrosamine formation.

  2. Leo T. says:

    Michigan is certainly not the worst state you can be a beer snob in. I live in Grand Rapids myself, so I’ve got places like Founders and Brewery Vivant within a ten mile radius. But yeah, Oberon is one of my favorites.

    (As far as the Food Babe goes, there’s not much I can really contribute to this posting beyond the long-form equivalent of clicking the Like button on Facebook, so I’ll just stick with Michigan beer as my off-topic comment topic of choice.)

    1. Rick L says:

      or Grand Rapids Brewing Co, Perrin, Harmony, Rockford, New Holland, HopCat (which is opening a location in Detroit by Dr. Gorski in the future)…so many beers so little time…

      1. mouse says:

        My summer favorite, Short’s Soft Parade. Served in a full brandy glass with a fresh fruit garnish*. Weee! Putting it on my shopping list now.

        (This probably puts me well out of the running for the titles of beer purist or snob).

        1. David Gorski says:

          For winter, Short’s Bellaire Brown is quite nice.

          1. Rick L says:

            It is New Holland’s Cabin Fever brown for me during winter time, which for this year, in Michigan lasted seemingly six months.

      2. Leo T. says:

        All of which are good as well, but if I wanted to do an exhaustive list of good breweries in western Michigan it’d probably end with me discovering whether or not there’s a maximum comment length on this website.

    2. CHotel says:

      My first thought after the opening paragraph was “How the hell did he not mention Founders if he lives in MI??”

    3. Angora Rabbit says:

      I get the pleasure of visiting Bell’s Eccentric Cafe every Christmas holiday – one of the perks. I also can recommend Dark Horse out of Marshall, which I think hasn’t been mentioned yet. And Founder’s, which has.

      It is nice to see that Michigan is finally catching up in the microbrewery category. I was visiting in March and was impressed with the number of new microbreweries just in the Kazoo area. Don’t know what’s happening in Detroit area and will have to investigate in detail.

      1. Steven says:

        @Angora – Detroit has several ‘good’ breweries. Motor City Brewing Company is worth stopping for the Ghettoblaster and the cider is tastier then most. Detroit Brewing Company has several better then average beers including an Imperial IPA that was delightful. Ye’ Old Tap Room doesn’t brew but has one of the best selections and histories in town!

        The BEST Detroit beer is just outside the city at Dragonmead – Final Absolution. Get a flight because all the beers are splendid.

        My favorite style is bourbon barrel, you must try Dragon’s Milk from New Holland!

        Happy beer drinking!

        1. K says:

          Another fine Detroit area brewery is Atwater. I highly recommend the Vanilla Java Porter, but I’m a stout/porter fan. MMMmm, malty!

        2. Rick L says:

          You should try Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), which is often rated one of the best beers in the world. Perrin (north of Grand Rapids) has a Kona Brown, which they offer aged in burbon barrels as well. Then there is New Holland’s Beer Barrel Aged burbon, which is burbon aged in barrels that were used to have Dragon’s Milk.

          1. K says:

            I’ve had Founders breakfast stout and New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk. Soooo, SO delicious! The Beer Barrel bourbon is quite tasty as well, but both that and the Dragon’s Milk are pricey enough that we have them on special occasions, not for regular drinking.

  3. Lenny says:

    Isinglass is derived from fish swim bladders. These are not bladders in the conventional sense as Food Babe seems to imagine (Fish pee! Urgh! Gross!) but buoyancy controls for the fish. They contain nothing more alarming than air.

  4. MikeB says:

    I teach College Composition and have decided to take head-on the Great Food Fear Fallacy as one of my topics this fall (I’m also a small farmer and orchardist).

    The theme of the final assignment will be, “How do we lay people evaluate claims about food in the media? How do we know whether a claim is true or false?” The fact is, we often are clueless because most of us don’t have scientific training.

    We can teach ourselves how to identify bad arguments, though.

    I’m going to start by reviewing logical fallacies as listed on the Skeptics Dictionary website. Then we’ll read articles in the popular press that make claims about food and see if we can identify the bad arguments.

    A request: Does anyone know of any recent articles for popular consumption (as it were) that are very bad and that might be used to show freshmen writers what fallacy-ridden work looks like?

    The fallacies I’m looking for in particular: correlation/causation (post hoc, etc.), testimonials/anecdotes, appeal to authority, representativeness, etc.

    One of my recent “favorites”: That steaming pile published in Elle magazine recently, whereby a writer from my own state (Maine) was advised to remove “GMO corn” from her diet and — voila! — her “allergies” symptoms disappeared. Even the illustration to the piece screams ignorance:

    The Bad Seed.

    I totally admire this site, along with Neurologica, and would appreciate hearing what people think here. I have the rest of the summer to settle on three or so articles for my students to choose from.

    1. MikeB says:

      …and the Argument from Tradition, and Ad Hominem, and Straw Men….

      Unnatural Acts is one of the best compilation of these I’ve found.

    2. Charlie says:

      To show freshmen a classic example of a logical fallacy I would have them read “A Modest Proposal” by Johnathon Swift. It reads a lot like some of these quack-blogs.

    3. Petticoat Philosopher says:

      Almost everything on the Weston A. Price Foundation website will give you plenty of material. I would love it SBM did a take-down of that group. I think they cast an even bigger shadow on the internet than the Foodbabe as far as promoting food misinformation and pseudo-science (with just enough good sense thrown in to make their swill palatable to otherwise reasonable people) bundled together with dangerous anti-vax and anti-medicine stuff. Every time one of my friends posts some piece of food woo on facebook, there’s almost always a link in there to some “source” that ultimately comes from the WAPF. And there is rarely more than 2 degrees of separation. It is really frightening.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Seconded.

  5. Guy Chapman says:

    It can only be a matter of time before the food cranks realise that beer contains gluten, the all-purpose food fad bête noire. At that point, they can all stop worrying about what’s added to beer, because they will understand that beer is inherently EVIL. At least until something else comes along to replace gluten in their pantheon of imaginary devils.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        I’ve been amused by the number of alcoholic beverages now proudly describing themselves as “gluten free” which have never contained gluten in the first place, like Angry Orchard cider, which is of course made from apple juice.

        1. Chris says:

          But it has lots of fructose! Well, what remains when the fructose in the apple juice has fermented.

        2. Roadstergal says:

          Heh, I just bought some Angry Orchard over the weekend, and laughed at the Naturally Gluten Free label. I don’t know where I’ll get my weekend’s worth of gluten, now! But the ginger cider was delicious.

          1. Calli Arcale says:

            Of course, I laugh, but I do have a cousin with severe celiac sprue, and it’s probably reassuring to know that they don’t ferment beer in the same containers as their cider.

            1. Jon says:

              Cider is taxed as wine and cannot, by law, be fermented or carbonated in the same vessels used for beer, a totally separate tax class. Drink on that in confidence…but look for locally produced ciders.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Ha, Jimmy Kimmel and gluten:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdJFE1sp4Fw&feature=kp

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        LOL. Great stuff.

      2. I'm just this guy, you know? says:

        yeah, but did you see Jimmy Kimmel fawning all over DR Oz? just shameful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvNEYpB1Ino

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          That’s why I don’t get my political information from comedians (except Stewart and Colbert of course).

    2. Chadwick Jones says:

      This is why you likely see more Sorghum beers.

    3. Jason Bell says:

      I take some exception to the gluten-free bashing. I know it is all in fun, and I’m no fan of fad diets, but this type of talk is how prejudice starts against people with very real health issues. How do I know this? My wife has celiac disease and she constantly has to defend being gluten free, which is not a choice for her; she has symptoms like peripheral neuralgia, hallucinations, and measurable hearing loss from gluten exposure. People ASSUME they don’t have to take her seriously when she asks for gluten free options at restaurants, as if she needs a card to prove her request is legitimate.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        @Jason:

        You’ve pointed out a very real additional harm of the gluten-free craze. The people who actually have celiac’s can get unfairly marginalized. I know that the authors here make it a point in every post to take a few sentences and make it clear that there are people with actual gluten sensitivity and that the article focuses on the general craze of gluten free for health benefits in normal people. Unfortunately there is only so much that will carry and it sounds like your wife is experiencing negative impacts unfairly as a result.

        1. Harriet Hall says:

          There’s a silver lining. Because of the gluten craze, it has become far easier for celiac patients to find gluten free foods, and most restaurants now know about gluten and are very cooperative in helping patients avoid it.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Jason, my sympathy to your wife. I will note, however, that if she were asked by the interviewer on the Jimmy Kimmel show what gluten was, she would probably know.

        Even more sympathy, actually, because it is jackasses like the ones on the JK interview segment who make it hard to take people with actual celiac seriously. I hope every time someone says they are “allergic to gluten”, your wife carefully probes for an actual gluten issue, then if it’s merely fashionable nonsense she lets them have it with both barrels. Fashionable nonsense trivializes actual diseases and it’s maddening.

        1. Jason Bell says:

          I do recognize that authors are careful to differentiate between celiacs and those following a fad, I am talking about prejudice against gluten-free. I am all for debunking bad science on forums and “unloading with both barrels” against those with an agenda perpetuating rubbish. But our interactions on the subject are typically going to a restaurant and my wife simply asking what gluten-free options are available, with no mention of her disease. I find it troubling that there are those that would “probe hard” to make sure she has a valid reason, and that they feel justified in treating her like an idiot if she doesn’t want to discuss it and provide photographic evidence of intestinal damage and a note from her doctor. If I think somebody is an idiot for basing decisions on bad evidence, I think you’re a fucking asshole for deciding a stranger’s reasons for being gluten-free are unacceptable based on zero evidence. Guess which one of you is getting punched in the face? She owes you shit in the way of an explanation, that’s my point.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            I was more going for she has the knowledge, moral authority and experience to know when someone’s just “celiac” for fashionable reasons.

            1. Jason Bell says:

              @WilliamLawrenceUtridge:

              I apologize that it appeared I was attacking you. The “you” in my comment above was hypothetical. No excuse for my poor choice of words when I was attempting to make a point that words matter. I respect all of you and I hope I didn’t offend you. I just hope people will keep in mind that everybody is coming from a different place, and I hope when you hear the words “gluten-free” you’re not automatically ready to go on the offensive. You may very well be right that they’re not prepared to defend their choices, but it also may be they simply don’t want to discuss private health matters. Either way, the decent thing to do is treat them with respect. Save the derision for those spreading bad science or hurting others. Or those willing to go on Jimmy Kimmel and look like tools. And I’m not saying any of you do these things. Just saying it happens, and it’s just one more thing that sucks about having a condition like this.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                No worries, having to deal with real disease while surrounded by bullshit fashionable fakery would make anyone testy and I didn’t take offence. It could have been read either way, and even if you were mad specifically at me, you get a pass ’cause of all the crap your wife has to deal with.

                Whenever I hear “gluten free”, I pretty much automatically say “oh, celiac sucks…” and if I get a blank stare, I start probing.

          2. Chris says:

            “I find it troubling that there are those that would “probe hard” to make sure she has a valid reason, and that they feel justified in treating her like an idiot if she doesn’t want to discuss it and provide photographic evidence of intestinal damage and a note from her doctor. ”

            There is no excuse for that kind of judgement. I have known celiacs for almost over years, way before it became a fad. For one couple I would make them them separate Christmas cakes: gluten free for the wife and nut free for hubby (my 1970s era Joy of Cooking has gluten free recipes). Their daughter is a lactose intolerant celiac. Plus there was the celiac co-worker who really liked the chocolate I brought back from the Netherlands.

            I have only become judgmental towards one person: my father. A few years ago he decided to go gluten free because my sister said it was helping her husband. Well, my sister and her husband have abandoned being gluten free (it turned out they did like giving up favorite foods like pasta, beer and gin).

            But not my dad, and oh, he just cannot stop talking about it. And since my sister knows of good gluten free bakeries in her city she gets him bread which he can’t get in his rural area. So when we visited there last summer that is all we heard about.

            That would have been just a bit annoying (along with the TV always being on Fox News), but I never heard a peep about the very expensive shipment of crab meat we sent him for Christmas in lieu of my holiday baking. Nothing. Zilch. Not a word. No thank you, absolutely nothing.

            So I figured since he lives on a rural postal route and the shipper needed someone to be home to get the delivery that he never got it. So when I got home I wrote to apologize for the sending him a gift he never received, and I would never try that again. (handwritten because he does not do email)

            Not long after I sent that note, he called and said he did get the crab. Still, I am not sending him anymore crab (I also live not very far where most of the boats for the show “Deadliest Catch” are moored). I’ll just stick to sending him spiced nuts and dried fruit.

            1. Chris says:

              “I have known celiacs for almost over years, way before it became a fad.”

              Stupid typo… I checked the numbers and realized it was “over thirty years” not “almost thirty years”, and replaced the wrong word.

              I also thought one rant deserved another.

  6. Statistique says:

    Orak, if you are going to drink mass produced Blue Moon, you may as well imbibe Hoegaarden (InBev). It is vastly superior and fairly authentic. I would encourage you to do some experimenting: there are many better options out there from craft brewers: http://www.ratebeer.com/beerstyles/belgian-white-witbier/48/

    1. David Gorski says:

      I’ve never seen it anywhere in my area.

      1. X123 says:

        You’re not a beer snob. You might as well be drinking coors light. Don’t undermine your legitimate scientific credibility by claiming any taste in beer. Enjoy your shock top this weekend.

        1. David Gorski says:

          What’s Shock Top? :-)

          1. Eldric IV says:

            Where MillerCoors makes Blue Moon, apparently Anheuser-Busch makes Shock Top 5.2% abv Belgian-style wheat ale.

          2. Frank says:

            Shock Top is the Budweiser variant of Blue Moon. I’ve not as many varieties of it but as an AB product it has national distribution.

          3. FredJ says:

            Blue Moon is not bad. Hoegaarden tastes like bubblegum. Of course, your taste may vary. So does mine.

        2. Sarah says:

          You seem fun.

  7. John Davis says:

    One other thing about isinglass – it doesn’t even remain in the beer after use (except perhaps in tiny trace amounts) as it is only used to clear the beer. It attaches to particles that might make the beer cloudy and sinks to the bottom, and the beer is then syphoned away from it (and may be further filtered). Most vegetarians steer clear of beer made with isinglass because it involved animal death, but not because they think they are drinking animal product.

    1. Chris says:

      It reminds me of using whipped egg whites to clarify meat stock. I think I tried it once, and figured it was not worth the trouble. I just strain the broth through cheesecloth and then reduce it down to a concentrated gel (like glace de viande).

  8. On what planet is Guinness a “British “real ale” cask beer”?!

    1) British? it was original Irish, as in Eire aka the Irish Republic, which may be part of the British Isles geographically but to confuse its identity politically could, until recently, have been harmful to your kneecaps.

    2) and anyway it’s now made by a multinational with as much charm and craft as your Anheuser-Coors and MillerBusch (although it’s based in London)

    3) “real ale” cask beer? Er, no. just no

    1. Frederick says:

      The first Black beer i tasted was a McAuslan ones, I loved it, than I tried others ones, Like some local brewery Stouts beer. So one day i decided to tasted a Guinness, some people seem to see it as good Beer in that category. I was Disappointed, It barely taste anything. I think it is a good beer for people who never tasted stouts, or others black beer, but once you like them, the Guinness become like a joke, the taste is so soft and it is barely there. Well IMO of course :-)

      1. n brownlee says:

        I think Guinness must be drunk in Ireland or the UK, or it doesn’t taste right. It doesn’t hold up well to shipping, and when it arrives it’s never set up and/or pumped properly. There’s no point, really.

        1. Windriven says:

          I agree. Although I will admit to drinking the odd Guinness at home with a dead rare rib-eye on occasion. There are times when the trans-Atlantic flight just isn’t convenient ;-)

          But it really doesn’t travel all that well. I can’t say I know the ins and outs of set-up and pumping. Next trip I’ll make it my business to learn.

        2. Frederick says:

          I guess, On tap it is always different. I heard that, But in a can, not that is is bad, no, But the flavor is more subtle. But you’re right lot of beer don’t hold up being in bottle/can.

          1. Windriven says:

            It may simply be that the Guinness isn’t all that fresh by the time it gets form there to here.

            1. simba says:

              It can be hard to find a bartender outside Ireland who knows how to pull a pint of Guinness properly, too. I have heard more than one story of Irish people ousting the barman and pouring their own pint.

              I have been told by a barman that it can be really hard to provide good Guinness in South America- transport, availability, and apparently it’s brewed in different places to slightly different recipes.

              http://www.irishtimes.com/news/serious-issue-settled-as-scientists-reveal-that-guinness-in-ireland-tastes-best-by-far-1.566866

              1. Windriven says:

                One more good reason to go to Ireland :-)

              2. Windriven says:

                YIPES! Irish Times wants 10 Euro to read the article! I’ll take your word for it, simba.

              3. simba says:

                Oops, forgot about that. Sorry, Windriven!

                http://www.ift.org/Food-Technology/Daily-News/2011/March/17/Does-Guinness-beer-travel-well.aspx Hopefully this works better.

              4. Windriven says:

                Many thanks!

        3. alexander says:

          Last time I actually bothered to look it up, Guinness was brewed in 49 different countries, including their big markets in Nigeria, Ghana, Malaysia, Cameroon, and the United States.

          1. Jason Bell says:

            Nigerian Guinness is 100% sorghum.

        4. Petticoat Philosopher says:

          Having lived in Ireland for a time, I can say that Guinness tastes good to me here in Boston. But, then again, I doubt a bar could stay in business in this town if it didn’t know how to properly treat its Guinness. :-P

          1. n brownlee says:

            I believe it. In my hometown there are a bunch of “pubs” serving Guinness, but it’s decent to drink in just three of them- all owned by Matt Macintyre, an Irishman who married a Texas girl and immigrated. He says it took a couple of weeks to get the pumping setup in each bar correctly adjusted.

    2. haaglund says:

      The Guinness company got its start in Ireland, but if we want to be really finnicky about it, the owners, historically, have been loyalists who probably wouldn’t have minded being called British at all and stout is actually an English style of beer. So whether you can really call it an Irish beer when it’s an English recipe manufactured all over the world is debatable.

      You’re bang on about it not being a real ale, mind you.

  9. Neurotic Knight (@Neurotic_Knight) says:

    America the only place, people trust food and health decisions by a computer engineer over health specialists.

    1. stanmrak says:

      I got news for you – america isn’t the only place where people don’t trust ‘health specialists.” “Health Specialists” is often just a euphemism for “government propagandists.” Health specialists, for example, told us to eat more margarine back in the 70′s to reduce risk of heart disease. Some of us didn’t fall for that one either.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        I got news for you – america isn’t the only place where people don’t trust ‘health specialists.” “Health Specialists” is often just a euphemism for “government propagandists.” Health specialists, for example, told us to eat more margarine back in the 70′s to reduce risk of heart disease. Some of us didn’t fall for that one either.

        You’re right, we should listen to self-taught graphic artists who doesn’t understand the relevance of a-Tocopherol but pretends he does?

        Health specialists, i.e. government scientists, also are the ones who pointed out that trans-fat margerines are actually unhealthy when the evidence for this fact accumulated.

        But please, tell us again about how terrible it is that only one kind of a-Tocopherol is included in multivitamins, and how your super-expensive vitamins that don’t get absorbed by the body are better. I’m very interested.

        1. stanmrak says:

          “Health specialists, i.e. government scientists, also are the ones who pointed out that trans-fat margerines are actually unhealthy when the evidence for this fact accumulated.”

          Why did it take them 40 years to figure this out? If they had just looked at the science (Ancel Keyes’ study was a fraud), they never would have taken that stance to begin with. Could it be that their friends in the food industry didn’t want it known? Some of us knew this was BS right away, back in the 70′s. They didn’t point this out voluntarily – they were forced to in order to avoid further embarrassment.

          1. Vicki says:

            I’m sure Stan can prove that he was warning people about margarine in the 1970s, and for the scientifically/medically valid reasons (rather than “oh, no, it’s artificial!”

            Published documents with verifiable dates please.

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Why did it take them 40 years to figure this out?

            Why did it take 2,000 years to find out that bloodletting doesn’t work? Why did it take 14,000 years to discover vitamins? The separation of cause, effect and confound, particularly for something as complicated as diet, is complicated, and it’s not like eating a spoonful of margerine causes instant cardiac arrest.

            If they had just looked at the science (Ancel Keyes’ study was a fraud),

            Science is built on trust, it actually takes a very, very long time to discover outright deception. Of course, where’s your proof that Ancel Keys actively committed fraud, rather than, say, finding a promising correlation that turned out to be complicated?

            Could it be that their friends in the food industry didn’t want it known? Some of us knew this was BS right away, back in the 70′s. They didn’t point this out voluntarily – they were forced to in order to avoid further embarrassment.

            Sorry stan, I’m not going to take your word for it, not when you don’t even know how the body uses alpha-tocopherol but claim to give dietary advice. But realistically – none of this really matters. The issues of diet and heart disease are only really relevant when taken to extremes; if people eat reasonably, as recommended by the USDA and related organizations, and treat food as food rather than medicine, and follow other mainstream recommendations about healthy weights, exercise and sleep, then we wouldn’t have much of an issue. Treating diet as a miracle that can cure all ills of only people adopt some nutjob caricature of reasonable recommendation simply makes people sicker over the long term.

        2. Petticoat Philosopher says:

          I really wish food woomeisters would get over the freaking margarine thing. They keep on insisting that scientific and medical wisdom can be dismissed because it preaches the benefits of margarine and I just. don’t. get it. I have known exactly zero medical and/or health professionals who think that margarine and trans fat in general is a healthy choice. They abandoned that recommendation years ago when evidence demonstrated that it was harmful. What I generally here is “Stick with the butter if you like it, exercise moderation.” Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Am I missing something? Are all the doctors in their area shoving hydrogenated vegetable oil down their throats or do they just need a convenient straw man?

          I have kind of a personal beef (no pun intended) with these people. I happen to be a bit “crunchy” myself and I like cooking from scratch, fresh produce, farmer’s markets, humane treatment of animals and buying local. I don’t see why liking any of these things has to mean that I also believe in, say, feeding raw milk to children and pregnant women, railing against vaccination or eschewing real medicine in favor of homeopathy but it seems like many other people do, since it never seems to take me very long to run into that crap when I’m innocently perusing food blogs looking for good kale recipes. It ends up seducing reasonable people into dangerous and false beliefs and that’s scary.

          1. Petticoat Philosopher says:

            woops, “here” should be “hear.”

      2. Windriven says:

        “government propagandists”

        You were a Y2Ker, weren’t you stan? Do you have a bunker? Lots of dried and canned food, come the revolution? Guns? Lots of ammo? The man got his foot on your neck? Just wondering.

    2. Jim says:

      If only. The EU is worse in this respect and its not like Australia is any better.

    3. Sarah says:

      Yeah, I don’t know that it’s only the United States at all. I passed many an acupuncturist and homeopathic office when I was recently vacationing in Sweden and Denmark. I suspect Jim is right.

  10. Tim Tesar says:

    I suggest you start a campaign to require Ms. Hari to list all the chemicals in he body so that everyone can know how toxic she is.

  11. James says:

    I demand that Mrs Hari provide a list of all of the chemicals she contains!

  12. Mike says:

    Thanks for this. Vani Hari’s rants against Jell-O and cellulose also cause much facepalming.

    If you don’t like the Food Babe, might I suggest the Chow Babe?

    1. Chow Babe is AWESOME!

      1. David Gorski says:

        Agreed. I definitely “Liked” her Facebook page.

    2. Eldric IV says:

      Facebook will not let me see her page because I do not have a Facebook account.

      Is Chow Babe a legitimate version of Food Babe or a parody?

      1. David Gorski says:

        Science-based parody of the Food Babe, it appears to me.

        1. Chris says:

          Ah, it is a pity is located where those of us who don’t want to become part of Facebook can see it.

          Though even without Facebook’s changing of privacy settings, it keeps me from being dragged into my family’s dramas. Apparently my sisters like to duel it out there. I don’t really wish to be part of that.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            And to paraphrase Betty White, “the whole thing seems like a huge waste of time:)

          2. Eldric IV says:

            Ah, it is a pity is located where those of us who don’t want to become part of Facebook can see it.

            The bright side is that the people who most likely need to see it are most likely on Facebook.

  13. Andrey Pavlov says:

    Of all the things out there, this sort of thing is (for whatever reason) one that I find the most infuriating. I had a friend on facebook (who was actually a friend IRL as well, but not at all a close one) who squawked the Subway yoga mat thing. I had the patience for one round of exchange on it before I unfriended her.

    On the flipside I did a few days ago share the SGU image of a banana with all the scary sounding chemicals in it and said, “Just because you can’t pronounce a component of your food doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it. It means you should take more chemistry classes.” That was re-shared by a few of my friends and some of their friends re-shared as well.

    Perhaps why I find this so infuriating is that it is so insidiously difficult to combat. I fear that the only way it will be effectively combatted is by the companies targeted finally get fed up enough with it that they take their huge PR budgets and get some real scientists and just blast this sort of nonsense with both barrels and a firehouse. Which, now that I think of it, may not be such a bad thing actually.

    1. irenegoodnight says:

      It’s not just ignorance of chemistry, though. I have never taken chemistry (although I did well enough in biology and human biology as presented in Physical
      Anthropology. Many nurses I know, who have all passed chemistry, are big pseudosciencemongers, yet I am not. I attribute this to the good grounding in critical thinking I received in my Anthropology undergraduate coursework–and ongoing learning that puts those skills to good use.
      ————-
      @Orac

      Mr. Goodnight and I have discovered a number of wonderful Michigan craft beers in our ventures to the U(pper) P(eninsula) area, and happily we have been able to locate many of them at our local Discount Liquor store. :-)

  14. Mike says:

    “I like to call this, for purposes of medical and food uses, the fallacy of origin. In other words, the claim is that, because a substance originated from a source that sounds toxic (or just plain disgusting), it must be bad for you.”

    This is a core principle of Organic. Identify of a substance is unimportant. A substance is allowed in organic production if it is produced in nature or by non genetically engineered enzymes. A substance is not allowed in organic production if humans caused a chemical reaction to occur. Here are links to two documents showing how extreme organic woo meisters in the federal government will take this fallacy of origin:

    http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5103308

    http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5103309

    1. Calli Arcale says:

      Of course, this means they should be perfectly fine with isinglass. ;-)

  15. Kelleen Flaherty says:

    I use Faccione’s “Think Critically” as one of the texts in my critical thinking class. It’s wonderful. I also use Gula’s “Nonsense” (older, but a classic) and Goldacre’s “Bad Science.” The “Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies” website lists many of the fallacies, in an albeit oversimplified and abbreviated manner. Good luck. Fight the good fight.

  16. qetzal says:

    The Food Babe is either an idiot or a fraud. If she really thinks safety can be judged by pronounceability, she’s an idiot. If she knows better, she’s just scare-mongering for her own self-aggrandizement.

    That said, I agree that beers (and other alcoholic beverages) should probably have the same requirement to list ingredients as other consumables. If it makes sense to require for Coke, why would it be different for beer?

    1. David Gorski says:

      I don’t so much have a problem with beer brewers having to list ingredients (although many of them are already listed—if you read that retort to the Food Babe by actual brewers you can learn a lot). It’s the way this is being done and used to use scary chemical names to make it sound as though foods and drinks, like the bread at Subway (yoga mat chemical!) and the various other foods the Food Babe has laid her dim-witted sights on, are toxic.

    2. Mike says:

      It would make sense. But you are expecting the laws passed by Congress to make sense. ATF controls the labels on alcoholic beveratges, FDA controls the labels on all plant based foods, dairy and fish. USDA controls the labels on meat products.

    3. rork says:

      Finally, someone said that beer should list the ingredients.
      I’ve always thought that obvious, and found it a wonder that it’s not required, or perhaps: required if there’s anything besides water, barely, hops, yeast.

      1. JakeR says:

        Amen, Brother! Rice is okay in sake or other Asian products, but in beeer? NEVER!

    4. I agree — alcoholic beverages should not get to play by different rules than the rest of the food industry, when it comes to disclosing their ingredients.

      This is ESPECIALLY important when you consider food allergies.

    5. Krishna Sanger says:

      She is not a fool but a FRAUD because a foolish FRAUDster is unimaginable.

  17. Gene Mille says:

    I posted a link to this article on the Food Babe Facebook page as a comment in one of the posts about beer. It will probably come as no surprise that the comment and link were removed and I can no longer post to the Food Babe Facebook page.

    1. If you dispute anything the Food Babe has to say, you’re blocked. You’ve just joined the blocked club because you posted FACTS to her. Welcome!!

  18. stanmrak says:

    It’s easy to dismiss toxic ingredients in our environment by spouting the cliche “the dose makes the poison.” While this may be true, we really don’t know exactly what that dose is for any given toxin over decades of exposure. There is no way to prove toxicity conclusively, and it may take 20 years for that dose of yoga mat you’re ingesting to give you cancer. Chemicals also are not tested to see what effect they have in your body when you mix them together.

    I would prefer to avoid as many of these as possible myself, so I applaud every effort for full disclosure and food labeling.

    1. Adam Kennedy says:

      Every cell in your body receives 10,000 genetic insults every day. Largely as a result of basic metabolic processes and background radiation. Your very life is the greatest carcinogenic stimulus you are likely to come across on an average day.

    2. Chris says:

      “Chemicals also are not tested to see what effect they have in your body when you mix them together.”

      I used cyanide as a flavor enhancer yesterday in my cherry clafoutis. I had read that the French do not pit the cherries because they add flavor. It was suggested at the website to scald the milk with the pits.

      So after pitting the cherries from my tree, I covered the pits with milk and heated it up. After being scalded with the pits, the milk smelled like almondy kirshwasser. The smell is from the chemicals in the pits, which includes HCN, but in a very small amount.

      I strained the pits, let the milk cool. Then soaked the sour cherries in a little bit of actual kirshwasser and sugar. Just as dinner came out of the oven I mixed up the batter, poured it over the cherries and put it in the oven.

      By the way, it was delicious. Even with the extra chemicals (like milk proteins, egg proteins, flour gluten, salt, sugar and the lovely chemicals that make up cherries… which may have had a couple of cherry vinegar fruit fly larvae, just a bit more protein).

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      While this may be true, we really don’t know exactly what that dose is for any given toxin over decades of exposure. There is no way to prove toxicity conclusively, and it may take 20 years for that dose of yoga mat you’re ingesting to give you cancer. Chemicals also are not tested to see what effect they have in your body when you mix them together.

      Given the fact that most flavour molecules are produced by plants to poison insects and herbivores to prevent the plant from being eaten, what do you think about eating the following for 20 years:
      - pesto
      - spaghetti sauce
      - cinnamon buns
      - mint juleps
      - poulet aux 40 gousses d’ail

      Also, since azodicarbonamide is explicitly added to doughs and beers to add carbonation, which it does so by breaking down into simpler gasses, are you still concerned about your intake of azodicarbonamide?

      1. Frederick says:

        That is so true, like grapes for wines. If the grapes had a easy life, they have no taste and make bad wine. But if they have a harder time, lack of water, insects and lot of thing attacking them, they taste better, more flavor molecules.
        That’s one of the reason I prefer Field grown tomato ( I don’t care for organic or not) to green house grown tomato. The field one had a harder time growning so they taste better!

  19. TwistBarbie says:

    The whole “if you can’t pronounce it you shouldn’t eat it!” argument is one of the most vapid and annoying concepts around. My favourite word to throw at these people is epigallocatechin-3-gallate. It even has a scary number in it! Oh noes! What’s that? It’s the chemical responsible for the proclaimed “amazing curative powers” of green tea? There must be some mistake!?!?!
    Anyhoo, someone here should take down “The Healthy Home Economist”, another crazy crank who has idea what she’s talking about, but dispenses health advice with a remarkable lack of humor or self awareness. I can’t even read her site for giggles as it gives me the rage.
    As for beer, I don’t drink it, I prefer wine or cocktails, but the beer stores here on Vancouver island the big breweries are generally tucked away at the back, the majority of the fridge space is used for our immense variety of local brews.

    1. Chris says:

      ‘“The Healthy Home Economist”, another crazy crank who has idea what she’s talking about,’

      That is very true. I went through her recipes, and most of them are amateurish dreck. She takes a basic recipe and adds steps to make them more complicated. I see no reason why you need “sprouted flour” or any of the other mucked up ingredients.

      She is so proud of how much stock/broth she has in her freezer, but did not realize it works just as well if it is reduced down to more of a glace de viande. That way there is more space in the freezer, and it can be used as a concentrated flavoring.

      How she was treated on The Daily Show was a thing of beauty.

      1. TwistBarbie says:

        Ooh! I am going to look that clip up right. now.

      2. Petticoat Philosopher says:

        Thank you for pointing me to that clip! I looked it up and heartily enjoyed it. My only issue with it is that it makes vaccine denialism look like something that only crunchy suburban liberals engage in. That just isn’t true. For every blogger like Sarah Pope you find, you’ll find at least one conservative Christian homeschooling mommy blogger. Crunchy anti-science woo, especially about food and medicine, really transcends political lines. I guess it’s just a little more surprising and/or frustrating among progressives because, let’s face it, who expects conservative Christians to accept science anyway?

    2. Petticoat Philosopher says:

      The Healthy Home Economist is a shill for the Weston A. Price Foundation, which I mentioned above (and which I’m pretty sure Food Babe has cited before). Yes, I would love to see a takedown of the WAPF and all its affiliates. Healthy Home Economist is one of the worst. She’s also obnoxiously oblivious to her own privilege. She seems to think that everyone in the world is an affluent stay-at-home mom. It doesn’t seem to cross her mind that, even if there were a point to doing so, most people do not have the option of dosing their entire families on expensive fish roe every day. (Yes, really). Who needs vaccinations (which she rails against) when you can just feed your kids luxury food products to “boost their immune systems” or some such drivel?

  20. Rachel Ann Gray says:

    QUOTE: “She has no relevant qualifications. She isn’t a scientist. She isn’t a doctor. She isn’t a dietician. She has no training in nutrition.”
    QUESTION: Would you rather eat a meal prepared by a chef, or by a hospital dietician?

    The author missed the mark when he left out “culinary training,” as in chef.

    The last people I would go to for a *good* meal are doctors, scientists, and dietitians.
    And ultimately, I believe that the quality of the food is the point – at least, it is for those of us who embrace “live to eat” rather than “eat to live.”

    1. Chris says:

      Well, depending on my dietary needs: a registered dietician. They know both the real nutrition and how to cook it.

      Most chefs I know love to pour on the butter, cream and salt. Since our stepmother moved in when I was eleven, we learned to eat a low salt diet due to her genetic form of hypertension. My father, the main cook, learned how to use spices and herbs to bring flavor. Which is what I do (and why I make my own chicken and beef stocks).

      A while ago I went to a pasta cooking demonstration by a chef. The pasta was so salty it was inedible.

      By the way, I am shocked at cooking shows I have seen where chefs will get salt and pepper from a small bowl with hands that have just recently touched poultry. Then go and use the salt from the same bowl to season other foods at the end of preparation. So much much for basic food safety.

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        I had noticed that too, but my husband asked how long bacteria could live in a bowl of salt, and pointed out that the salted food is going to be cooked. I’m not sure if it is a significant risk. Do any of you know?

        1. Chris says:

          I don’t actually. It would be okay if they only did it with food that is cooked, but it gives me the willies when they then sprinkle over something that will not be cooked like a freshly cut tomato or salad.

          I did send a letter to This Week in Microbiology after their podcast about contaminated cantaloupe. Both hosts did say “eww” after reading that part of my letter. Perhaps I am a bit more cautious about food safety due to that podcast, but I have not had food poisoning for a long long time.

        2. n brownlee says:

          Salt discourages the growth of most bacteria. Salt, on its own, has been used as a food (especially meat) preservative not for centuries, but for millennia. BUT- it takes some pretty careful handling, as in removal of surface moisture, to ensure that the food doesn’t spoil. Even so, “salting down” beef, with or without added “pink salt”- curing salt containing sodium nitrite and sodium chloride- is cheap and effective. We still eat it- as corned beef. The ‘corns’ originally referred to salt pellets.

          I’ve salted down green beans, and lots of leafy herbs- worked fine.

          1. n brownlee says:

            And a PS- those tiny dishes of salt the TV cooks (mise en place!) use surely were dumped after every show. Anyway, it would be pretty hard to culture anything in a bowl of dry salt – talk about desiccating!

            1. Chris says:

              Seems like a waste to me. What about the pepper?

              Though my point is that going to culinary school to become a chef does not make one scientifically literate, nor very health focused. I would really like to see an “Iron Chef” where the challenge is to make a meal that has maximum amount of fats. Butter and cream will be allowed, but the skill is using it without going above a certain number of calories.

              By the way, halophilic bacteria are useful in making pickles and the expensive pink salt that some claim have special healing stuff (it doesn’t, except in making your wallet lighter).

              1. n brownlee says:

                Isn’t salt-rising bread leavened with a clostridium bacteria culture? I think the salty starter is to kill off wild yeasts. I forget. Except I remember I loved the bread; I’m sure it’s out of fashion now.

                I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t look it up.

              2. Windriven says:

                I have a recipe for salt leavened bread somewhere in my collection. I’ve read it but never made it as somehow I didn’t expect it to work. Let me know if you can’t find one and I’ll dig mine out this weekend.

              3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                By the way, halophilic bacteria are useful in making pickles and the expensive pink salt that some claim have special healing stuff (it doesn’t, except in making your wallet lighter).

                The thing is though – there are myriad bacteria that do weird things in nature and survive in places that seem impossible, if not outright deadly to us. But they generally don’t infect people. I worry about contaminated foods, because those bacteria that can eat birds, fish and beef can also probably eat me – but I don’t worry about most bacteria in say, my back yard, or growing in a hot spring, as they aren’t adapted to live and cause disease in humans.

                Perhaps I’m wrong – in which case, please let me know!

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            We still eat it- as corned beef. The ‘corns’ originally referred to salt pellets.

            This is because “corn” was the generic word for any grains, and the salt pellets looked like pieces of grain. Now “corn” means white and yellow cob corn in the US, while most other countries use the word “maise” or some variation.

            Etymology – almost as fun as science!

            1. Jon says:

              Interestingly (well not really), the Arawak word was mahis (a pronounced like in father, i pronounced like in pizza), which became maíz in Spanish, which became maize in French. So if someone says “Or, as the Indians called it, maize.”, feel free to call them on it, for me.

              1. Windriven says:

                Great stuff. Thanks Jon.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      The author missed the mark when he left out “culinary training,” as in chef.

      Hari isn’t claiming to give out culinary advice, she’s purporting to offer health advice. Whether one can fold an egg or not is irrelevant to the ability to identify health risks.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        Also, I’d like to add to Chris that I think you know some pretty lousy chefs. While butter and cream are favorite tools of many chefs, oversalting dishes is widely considered a mark of an incompetent chef, as it’s comparable to a lousy housekeeper spraying lots of air freshener around — it’s a cheap way of covering up a lack of quality.

        1. Chris says:

          The cooking program with the cross contamination of salt on turkey was a PBS program with Julia Child cooking with Jacques Pepin.

          Also, I am more sensitive to salt to others because I don’t use it as much.

          1. Calli Arcale says:

            I thought you were describing oversalted dishes you had tasted personally; obviously those you did not have the opportunity to sample directly. Salt does have its place; in the case of cooking a turkey, it’s used to draw moisture into the meat and can greatly enhance any marinade because of this property. It’s there for a functional reason, not just because the chef sucks.

            1. Chris says:

              No, I did taste that horrible over salted pasta at a demonstration in a high end kitchen store. The type that sells overpriced pink salt.

              In a recently opened restaurant I did complain that one dish was too salty. It was the same restaurant where both the crab cake and the crab salad were spiced so much it hide the flavor of the crab. I want to taste the crab, not the chili powder.

              When you prepare turkey, always wash you hands after handling it before touching other food and/or cookware that will not be heated. This is to avoid cross contamination. Basically do not stuff the turkey, and then turn around and place the sugared nuts into a serving bowl without first washing your hands. This is kind of what I saw years ago.

              1. Calli Arcale says:

                Good chefs rarely give demos in kitchen stores; the demos done there are more like infomercials, with a corresponding emphasis on, shall we say, discriminating honesty. Still, I fail to see how any of that justifies your apparent disdain for the use of cream and butter, which are mainstays of several cultural cuisines, including French. Julia Child was very definitely trained in French cooking, so of course you’ll see those in her recipes.

                And yes, I do know about cross-contamination. I was explaining that salt on poultry has a different function than just taste, a function which spices can’t perform. (It’s the chemistry of passive transport, basically.) Spices do other roles, and no French chef would argue that you should be able to season with more than just salt*. They’re really big on herbs, especially in southern French cuisine. (And Lyon, which is in the southern half of the country, is the axis of traditional French haute cuisine.)

                *One popular example is the truffle. Truffled turkey is lovely. You pare the truffles very thin and then slip pieces under the skin all over the bird before you roast it.

              2. Chris says:

                “Good chefs rarely give demos in kitchen stores;..”

                It was the local Williams Sonoma store. Even still, I watch my salt intake and will never make my pasta water as salty as an ocean. Which is mentioned in almost every cooking show. Sorry, I am not going to do it!

                “One popular example is the truffle. Truffled turkey is lovely. You pare the truffles very thin and then slip pieces under the skin all over the bird before you roast it.”

                Actually (and I just bought truffle cheese for a wild mushroom pizza to be made this week) I prefer the addition of a tiny bit of lavender. Due to the fact that I have forsworn living near where my mother grew up (Eau Claire, WI) and the high desert of my dad’s up bringing (Yakima, WA)… I live in a maritime climate near a big freaking lake, Lake Washington. This is why I can have my “herbes de provence” garden.

                This garden includes thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, bay laurel and culinary lavender*. So my Christmas turkey includes a rubbing of most of those herbs. But you need to make sure the lavender content is very small, or you are eating what tastes like turkey soap.

                * with a more recent addition of hyssop and summer savory… the former will be added to the herb mixture, the latter will not due to it being an annual.

    3. Angora Rabbit says:

      Ha! You should come to the potlucks in our Nutritional Sciences dept, filled with Dietitians (note correct spelling) and nutrition scientists. We eat so well here that other depts raid our holiday potlucks and United Way fund-raising luncheons.

      Now, food scientists. That’s a different story. How to make what Mom makes and have it taste only a little bit worse. You can see the incremental steps to crapola processed food.

      Trust me – always dine with the nutritionists. I am attending a conference with 30 this week and we are merciless against the 4 1/2 star kitchen here.

      1. Chris says:

        Ha! I thought so.

        Now I need to go write “dietitian” fifty times to get it right.

        “You can see the incremental steps to crapola processed food.”

        Every so often dear hubby brings home one of those “only need heating” meals from Costco. Things like a lasagna, or some Korean beef dish, and they are always disappointing. I always cringe when he brings one home.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Now, food scientists. That’s a different story. How to make what Mom makes and have it taste only a little bit worse. You can see the incremental steps to crapola processed food.

        I read somewhere (Fast Food Nation?) that to keep the cost of additives down, they try to swap out expensive for cheap. Make Froot Loops with chemical A at $40/kg and a second batch with chemical B at $20/kg and see if people can taste the difference. Then repeat with B/C, C/D, D/E, and eventually the difference between A and G is noticeable, if you went back and compared them.

        Of course, being Froot Loops, they suck anyway.

        I still think it’s fascinating science, even if the implications are horrifying. After over a decade of absence (and learning to cook in the years between), I had chicken McNuggets a while back and was astonished at how much it doesn’t actually resemble chicken meat.

        But hey, $2 for a single serving of protein does have a certain value if it’s your only source of protein.

      3. Jason Bell says:

        Ha!

        Food science covers a pretty broad range of topics. I studied the subject (fermentation science option) in college. If you want to know what foods are healthy, ask a nutritionist. If you want to understand how to get the most out of it (HOWEVER you define “most”) ask a food scientist. Oh, and we had the only building on campus where alcohol was allowed.

  21. Windriven says:

    Dr. Gorski:

    “Germans have stricter beer purity laws, organic beers (because, organic, of course), and craft beers and microbrews, because they use higher quality ingredients and are less likely to . “

    I suspect a link got dropped there, one that I would have been interested to follow.

    1. agitato says:

      This is an interesting link wrt German beer laws. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot.

      1. Windriven says:

        Great stuff! Thanks. I hadn’t thought about yeast being absent from the original law because at that time, who knew?

  22. Here’s an idea for Vani Hari…instead of fear mongering, how about telling people to make informed choices. She gives us, who are legit food bloggers, a bad name. But, when you question her credentials or disagree with her on her blog or her Facebook page, you are quickly banned. She can’t handle the truth and the truth is that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I can throw $20 phrases out of my mouth, too…but I’m still only a 2-bit food blogger. If you take notice, though, she quick to promote any brand that backs her and Food Babe is now an LLC and she has trademarked it. So, basically, she is making a lot of money on the fact that people don’t do their own independent research, that they cannot think for themselves and they will pay her for her “diet”. I read how she got her start…from having appendicitis. I didn’t realize appendicitis was the scourge of the 20th and 21st centuries. My bad, I thought that people got that in the 1800′s, too…when there weren’t processed foods or GMOs available. People need wake up and realize that the Food Babe is a joke with zero credibility. Would you go to a auto mechanic to treat your pneumonia? No. Common sense dictates that you see a health care professional, yet, time after time, I see all these people mewling about their health problems to a person who has no expertise in the healthcare or food or, even, the scientific industries. She’s trained in computers!! I can stand in a garage but that doesn’t make me a car. Food Babe is nuts and she’s going to severely hurt and/or kill someone with her nonsensical advice. I wish people would wake up and THINK!

    1. Ant_Chic says:

      I agree with you. This woman is even more unctuous & annoying than that “Crazy Sexy Wellness” person (aka Kris Carr). No doubt more dangerous all around to boot. They both have the Oz stamp of approval, which to me sums the situation up fairly clearly.

      If enough people take “The Food Babe’s” latest gem of advice re the spelling & pronunciation of food ingredients seriously, some of them will surely be in an awful lot of trouble sooner or later (given that enough maroons will no doubt quote it, mantra-like through Social Media etc without compunction or context*) ;)

      BTW: I thought Isinglass would be fine by her – ’cause, well, Nature! One shouldn’t be able to have their fear-mongering pseudoscience both ways….

      *Admittedly, there really isn’t any context…

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        I agree with you. This woman is even more unctuous & annoying than that “Crazy Sexy Wellness” person (aka Kris Carr).

        Oh fuck I hate her. I tried reading her stupid book about cancer and I was so disgusted. She got together with a group of people with real cancer and talked about how life-affirming it was and shit. I’m sorry, you’ve got a tumor that is barely an inconvenience – please don’t compare yourself to people whose lives can be measured in months. Please don’t pretend you can offer meaningful treatment advice. Please don’t portray “cancer” as if it were a unitary thing, and that you share some sort of mystic sisterhood with breast cancer patients. She’s a failed actress, model and photographer, who is exploiting people actually dying of cancer for her own fame.

  23. Frederick says:

    Don’t touch My beer Damned vile women! I really hate person like her, I lose my temper, I know we have to try not to be insulting, but this is too much. She a idiot.

    Two weeks ago I had to debunked, twice, this french news item about the “8 beer you should stop drinking now”.

    http://swagactu.com/8-bieres-devriez-arreter-boire-immediatement/

    So I read the article, first beer is New Castle! one on ma favourite big brand beer, evil because caramel dye! I was : ok this is BS. Than after that it was all stupid thing like : contains GMO so is poison, So I did not really read it all. I scrolled to the end of the article, the Sources FOOD BADE. So I explain on my Facebook comment that ALL that comes outs with that, along with naturalnews.com and mercola, as a source was false and fear mongering. The site that posted that news I linked is terrible, BS about GMO, They have a article about Tesla ( of course) totally bunk, insulting the reality with a fantasy story, endless collection of fear mongering. I told my friends to stay calm and brink a good beer. They were posting it more in a joke-like style, but still, others could see it as true. And I insist on the fact that they should NOT share it, to stop the spread of this stupidity.

    I will say the same thing as Steven novella said in one of the SGU, it is Food terrorism. Company are sometimes stupid yes, but poisoning their source of revenue? This is purely a cult of personality she don’t care about people of safety, it is just about herself, same goes for others wacko of the same kind. They don’t want to trust big companies, but they want you to believe of faith only what they are saying and others company who sells “natural” stuff. Double standard again.

    As for the beer topic, I totally Agree with David Gorski. I do Drink beer from big names, our standard beer are Stella Artois, Beck and Boréale and McAuslan ( the 2 last one are not micro brewers, but they are not super big either). I Don’t really Drink Molson or labatt, they are the big ones here, except that they do have some beer that are not bad for industrial ones, Like Molson’s “Rickard’s” line of product, the white and the red are nice, but their standar beer like Molson Export, I will drink pepsi or water before drinking that. I often go the a nice local store named “La Barrik” ( Is it a intentional badly spelled name, the real spelling should be “la Barrique” ) They have hundreds of Quebec microbrewery products. The guys who work there know all of them and give super good advice, and you can see the love their jobs!
    Luckily, in my region we have 2 super good microbrewery, One in my town, but you have to go there to taste, they don’t “export” or bottle up their beer, but it is good and they make good food ( They have this Poutine à la bière, huuum junk food). And Le trou du Diable which is a really good one too, they won couple of prices ui canada and US for their beers! Just out of spite I going to buy some new castle at the groceries store today!

    The only good thing about that Vani Hari is that she give us a excuse to talk Beers on SBM.

    @windrivenen I guess he was talking of the german purity law of 1516, maybe? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot

    1. David Gorski says:

      Drink beer from big names, our standard beer are Stella Artois, Beck and Boréale and McAuslan

      Actually, I do like Stella Artois, too. Oh, well…

      1. Frederick says:

        Europe’s big brewery still make better beer than canada/us ones. Molson Export and Molson Canadian are so bad. Coors light is not a bad beer, nor a good beer eitgher it has no taste, so you can’t dislike something taste nothing :-). lol

        1. Eldric IV says:

          Reminds me of a skit from the Red Green Show (a Canadian public access comedy). Red had to get Mike to guess a word (water) using clues.

          Red: “It’s something you drink.”
          Mike: “Beer?”
          Red: “It’s like beer, but it doesn’t have any flavor.”
          Mike: “American beer?”

          1. Frederick says:

            LOL nice one! Yeah Red green, Duck tape powa!

          2. Jon says:

            A similar joke goes, in bartender’s college, they tell you that anyone who orders Captain Morgan or Red Bull mixed with anything is a minor, regardless of what their ID says

            1. Windriven says:

              “anyone who orders Captain Morgan or Red Bull mixed with anything is a minor”

              Anyone who would order Captain Morgan or Red Bull as part of a cocktail should be served Koo-Aid. Also any name brand whiskey mixed with Coke. What are you, kidding me? You’re gonna mix 20 year old Bourbon with Coca Cola???

        2. Angora Rabbit says:

          The only place I’ve ever thought Coors tasted good was at 10,000 ft in Summit County after a hard day of banging the bumps at A-Basin. Man, it went down nicely. But I suspect they send a different product outside the Denver metro area. And now that we have fabuloso beer in Colorado, who needs Golden?

          1. n brownlee says:

            In the 1950s, when my father sometimes drank those tiny 6 oz cans of Coors that were bootlegged to Texas from Colorado- I sneaked a few sips that tasted pretty good…. “Open me a beer, Sister!”

            1. Windriven says:

              Are we safe to assume that Coors tasted pretty good to a, say, 8 or 10 year old palate? I wonder if the more mature palate of today would find it as enticing?

              1. goodnightirene says:

                I lived in Denver for a few years in the late 70′s before Coors was pasteurized and every time I went home to the NW everyone BEGGED me to bring them some Coors. I had a tiny car in those days and I would stuff it full of Coors in coolers and change out the ice along the way.

                Funny how what’s cool changes, eh? :-)

              2. Windriven says:

                “Funny how what’s cool changes, eh? :-)”

                I have friends of very recent Mexican heritage and they howl with laughter about Americans drinking Corona.

              3. Andrey Pavlov says:

                I have friends of very recent Mexican heritage and they howl with laughter about Americans drinking Corona.

                I prefer Pacifico myself :-)

              4. Windriven says:

                @Andrey-
                Pacifico is good. My friends favor Victoria (hard to come by except in bodegas hereabouts) and Negro Modelo – which I normally keep ‘in stock’. I like Dos Equis Amber as well with, for instance , carnitas. I don’t find that the lighter beers like Victoria and Pacifico hold up to the deeply grilled pork. Vicente though, (master of salsas that will make you weep*) thinks the lighter body is a good counterpoint to the richness of the meat. So, you know, some say tomato, some say tomatillo. All a matter of personal taste.

                *Vicente makes a very simple salsa using arbol peppers. It is wicked hot but brings layers of flavor to cooked meats. I have to be careful not to overdo it or I can’t taste breakfast the next day ;-)

                I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to go to K-Paul’s yet. If you haven’t, wait until somebody else is paying. Prudhomme uses spices to intimidate the tourists from Iowa. It is stupid hot but doesn’t bring anything else to the party. I’ll never understand his reknown beyond blackened fish – though blackening redfish should be a capital crime IMO. Blackened catfish can be really good and the blackening spices work well with the cafish’s oiliness that can sometimes be off-putting to my palate.

              5. Andrey Pavlov says:

                I’ve had Victoria, though yes, it is hard to come by.

                As for Negra…. my step-father’s favorite. We have 2 kegerators back home. One is a double tap downstairs by the pool and the other is a single on the roof deck. The single and one of the doubles is always Negra. The other gets swapped out periodically.

                But yeah, it is all really about personal preference. And my mood. Sometimes I like something with more body to stand up to a solid carnitas. Sometimes I like something lighter like a Pacifico to wash everything down and be refreshed. My level of thirst going into the meal will often predicate that.

                I haven’t yet been to K-Paul’s. I’ll keep it in mind for the next time my parents visit.

                As for Prudhomme… I actually like his redfish seasoning and have some in the house. I also actually like blackened redfish. I take a cast iron and put it on my crawfish pot ring stand and get the thing glowing. The redfish can stand up to it and ends up being crispy and delicious on the outside and yet still flaky, juicy, and tender on the inside. I think the key is to make sure that pan is screaming hot before doing it, otherwise you’ll boil off the liquid inside the fish rather than trapping it behind the blackened crust. I’ve also done it with a homemade meuniere sauce and some corn macque choux that was fabulous.

              6. Windriven says:

                “I also actually like blackened redfish.”

                Heathen!

                I like the subtle flavors of redfish – though I can certainly understand your appreciation of the blackened version. I’ve blackened amberjack as well but prefer it grilled or sauteed for the same reason.

                Macque choux. (Homer Simpson voice:) Ohhhh, gurgle….

              7. Andrey Pavlov says:

                Heathen!

                I like the subtle flavors of redfish – though I can certainly understand your appreciation of the blackened version. I’ve blackened amberjack as well but prefer it grilled or sauteed for the same reason.

                Haha. I like all forms of redfish. Jacque-Imo’s does an excellent blackened version. I, perhaps with a touch of bias, like my own as well. Beyond that I’ve had good blackened redfish at Bon Ton and not in any other of the handful of places of tried it. If done wrong it can definitely be completely ruined. As I said, I think that the trick is to have that pan screaming hot. And it must be cast iron or else you’ll lose that heat the instant the fish goes on. I also chill my fish before blackening (with any fish) as I find that help keep it from getting overcooked in the middle.

                Have you tried Barramundi? It is an Australian fish that I first ate there but is becoming increasingly popular in the US. It is a very delicate and delicious reef fish. Absolutely cannot be blackened or cooked any way but gently. Don’t buy it frozen though. Some fish stand up to it well, particularly if flash frozen (tuna, for example). But I’ve tried frozen Barramundi and while not bad is an utter waste of time to eat compared to fresh. If you come across it at your fishmonger, give it a go.

                BTW I love how any post related to food ends up having long conversations about favorite foods, recipes, and cuisines.

              8. David Gorski says:

                I have friends of very recent Mexican heritage and they howl with laughter about Americans drinking Corona.

                Corona was one of the beers I had in mind with my reference to equine urination without the taste.

            2. n brownlee says:

              I’m sure it was a combination of effects, W – not the least being the Forbidden Fruit aspect. (Not that it was so very forbidden; my family is full of drunks whose habits were firmly established by their teens.) But I remember, too, that when we opened a can of beer, back in those pre-pasteurized days, we could immediately smell it – and the memory of the heady, hoppy floral scent remains a nice part of my beer appreciation. Imagine, until fairly recently I had to search for a beer with an appreciable hop content! Lovely Mexican beers were the same deal- the product of German brewmeisters, and bootlegged into Texas, because unpasteurized.

              I’m firmly convinced that pasteurization ‘flattens out’ the taste and scent even of fairly acceptable beers. Long before the micro-brewery craze, happy little hippie freak kids in Texas, in the ‘sixties, made roadtrips to stock up on Shiner, the last unpasteurized beer made in the state, back then. Lots of German settlers in the Texas Hill Country, and there’s some very, very good beer.

              1. Windriven says:

                @Nancy Brownlee

                Do you remember Falstaff from your Texas days? It was a monumentally yeasty beer. A lot of people didn’t care for it but I loved the stuff (with a 20-something palate).

                Couldn’t agree more about pasteurization of beer. Anyone who has ever brewed their own can recognize the blunting of flavors that pasteurization wreaks.

              2. n brownlee says:

                I’m still in Texas! Or, in Texas, again… I spent my 20s traveling, like many of my generation. I got around, for a teenaged Jehovah’s Witness who’d never seen the ocean or eaten any fish but fried catfish.

                I ran off with my high school boyfriend at 16, got married, got divorced, get to Asia for a couple of years. In ’69 I really was twenty-one. I drank a lot of beer, Falstaff included. Corona was always pretty featureless, but it WAS cheap- and I have a bright memory of being rescued in the South Texas desert, going north from Piedras Negras in the July heat. My Volkswagen bug stopped and wouldn’t start, and a campesino who had no English at all but did have a couple of cases of coolish Corona in his truck stopped and pushed me until I got it going. Every fifteen minutes we’d stop and drink a couple of beers- until she fired up. I gave him my last four bucks. We wiped out a case of Corona.

                How’s that for anecdotal inconsequentiality?

              3. Windriven says:

                “How’s that for anecdotal inconsequentiality?”

                Pleasant. We have not dissimilar backgrounds, wanderlust included.

          2. Andrey Pavlov says:

            I have heard from a friend of mine whose opinion I trust on the matter that the Coors directly from the factory in Golden tastes nothing like the swill one buys at the store and is actually quite delicious. I was incredulous, but he was emphatic and just as surprised.

            1. Windriven says:

              @ ‘Drey

              K. But I’m struggling to understand the business model. “We’ll make bitchin’ beer for the eleventeen serious beer drinkers in the immediate environs of Golden, Freaking, Colorado but then we’ll bottle can diluted frog urine and sell it to the rest of the country! That’ll show the blighters who refuse to move to Golden!”

              Not saying that conversation didn’t happen in the boardroom. But I’m having some some doubts. ;-)

              1. Andrey Pavlov says:

                @windriven:

                Hey, I didn’t say I knew WTF they were on about. I haven’t first hand experience in it. But my buddy was insistent that he was blown away too.

                Perhaps it is altitude sickness altering perception. Or maybe they just lace it with THC these days. I dunno, but he’s not the first person I’ve heard it from. But he is the most credible.

            2. goodnightirene says:

              I would submit your friend to a blind taste test. I will concede that fresh might taste better, but beyond that…..

              1. simba says:

                Going to go have a drink now. You are all bad influences.

                Have to try and make ratatouille too. It’s so sunny you’d need something summery.

  24. George S says:

    I occasionally read the food babe’s blog to see how idiotic that group of people can be. It is like some kind of joke and people take it seriously.
    I bet there are a whole lot of scary, toxic sounding chemicals that are known carcinogens in hops that she has somehow neglected to mention.
    As doctors the contributors to this blog must see all of the bad effects of the consumptions of ethanol. From more than 50% of all drownings to motor vehicle deaths, liver and kidney disease, obesity, various cancers, poverty, addiction progressing to other drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, and the big one, fetal alcohol syndrome. It is odd that the food babe doesn’t mention any of this but harps away on some GMO BS, or scary sounding chemical names.
    Castoreum is a very natural product taken from wild animals living free in the wilderness often trapped by First Nations people living mostly off the land like they have for thousands of years, using traditional methods of harvesting the wild animals that are regulated by the game department to be certain the traps are humane. It has a very unique and pleasant smell (although is can be quite strong). Once you know the smell you can tell where beavers have been recently because you can smell it. I don’t know if there is a more “natural” food ingredient around. She should be promoting its use rather than saying how bad it is.

    1. David Gorski says:

      But you don’t understand. Beaver anal glands! Yucky! It can’t be good for you because…yucky! Ewwwww! The Food Babe says so; so it must be true!

      1. simba says:

        No-one tell her about seaweed in sweets (carageenan). Or about calf rennet. Hey, it’s natural!

  25. john says:

    its weird how you acknowledge that most beer is made the same way with the same basic ingredients, but praise german beers as superior for using the same ingredients, but also praise microbrews that use a huge variety of ingredients beyond limiting purity laws. and pbr is ok but only if its from a tap? thats some food babe-esque nonsense

    1. David Gorski says:

      Dude, the PBR remark was a typical sarcastic bit of silliness that was not meant to be taken as anything more than a statement of personal taste that many people from Chicago will understand. No assertion regarding anything other than that was being made. You take it way too seriously, and if that’s the only thing you can find wrong with this post of 4,000 words, I’ve done a good job indeed.

    2. Windriven says:

      John, where the heck are you from and what do you typically drink? Blue (aka PBR, aka Pabst Blue Ribbon) is as revered in some communities as Rolling Rock is in the parts of the Northeast where beer is just a rumor. There are a few aspects of life that are measured in IBUs rather than p-values. Beer is one. I am a purist. Dr. Gorski condones rice (!?) in beer. Even the Japanese can’t brew decent beer with rice but that’s why beer is fun to wrestle over. Drs. Crislip and Pavlov won’t drink beer that hasn’t been hopped to taste like Murphy’s oil soap. And WLU doesn’t drink beer at all – if you can imagine such a thing.

      Every once in a while it’s OK to smile.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        Not true! I just prefer a beer with some serious hops to it.

        That said, PBR is one of my guilty pleasures. That with a dozen (or two or three) oysters works well for me.

        1. Windriven says:

          ACME. Dang. I haven’t been there in a couple of years.

          I’m spoiled by the variety of oysters we have here in the PNW. But there is something special about salty Gulf oysters that can’t be surpassed. A dozen or three washed down with any decent beer is proof that life is good.

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            I’m a Felix’s guy myself. But I am also rather poor, so I go to a new (<2yr) place called Blind Pelican on St. Charles a block away from The Avenue Pub. Their's aren't as great, but they are good and they have a daily happy hour from 4-8pm where oysters are 25 cents if you order a beer for every dozen. With a $2 PBR that comes out to $5 a round for a dozen and a pint.

      2. Mark Crislip says:

        In my defense, while I quite like hops, years ago my dad and I took a beer class from the head brewer at Bridgeport. He was asked what his favorite beer was and he replied: what ever is in my hand at the moment. Sums it up for me. FosterBurger has PBR with a shot, great with a burger. I like a Bud on a hot day with my Jambalaya. Just don’t give me a light beer. And German/European (not UK) beers have an odd metallic taste I never figured out.

        1. David Gorski says:

          I went through a period where I liked really hoppy beers, such as Bell’s Two-Hearted. I still like Bell’s Two-Hearted and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and other hoppy brews, but I have to be in the mood for them, which doesn’t happen as often as it used to.

  26. stanmrak says:

    I just imagine this scenario. A patient gets diagnosed for a cancer that has no apparent cause. He asks the doctor, “How did this happen?” The doctor says, “I don’t know, but I’m certain it couldn’t have been any of those thousands of chemicals they put in your food because the FDA says they’re all safe.”

    1. Chris says:

      What chemicals are those, Stan? Please do tell us exactly, and provide some actual scientific evidence.

      By the way, have you enjoyed munching on apricot pits lately? Some claim those will cure cancer.

    2. Vicki says:

      Fortunately, most of us can go to real doctors, not imaginary ones.

      A real doctor wouldn’t say anything that pointless, they would say that they don’t know what caused the cancer but that the important question is how to treat it.

      Suppose for a moment that it’s not cancer, it’s a gunshot wound. It sounds like the doctor in your imagination would look at the patient, ask who shot him, and if he said he didn’t know demand a police report and crime scene photos. Meanwhile, real doctors are treating their patients.

    3. Sawyer says:

      I just imagine this scenario. A patient gets diagnosed with cholera in 1850 that has no apparent cause. He asks the doctor, “How did this happen?” The doctor says, “I don’t know, but I’m certain it couldn’t have been in the water, because we don’t put any potentially harmful chemicals into the water. That’s how you know it’s clean. All the local apothecaries gave their stamp of approval to the water as well.”

      See stan? This argument only looks reasonable the way you framed it, but in fact has nothing to do with science, safety, or rational thinking.

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I just imagine this scenario. A patient gets diagnosed for a cancer that has no apparent cause. He asks the doctor, “How did this happen?” The doctor says, “I don’t know, but I’m certain it couldn’t have been any of those thousands of chemicals they put in your food because the FDA says they’re all safe.”

      “It’s probably all the aflatoxin you got from all the organic spices you buy. Or it might have been the Aristolochia tea that your naturopath recommended. Then again, you did order those arsenic-laced Ayurvedic medicines off of the internet, and arsenic does cause cancer as well. And, of course, rather than using FDA-approved sunscreen, you took Mike Adams’ advice to use coconut oil and sunbathe instead, to maximize your vitamin D.* Oh, and when we found out your ulcer was caused by H. pylori, I suggested antibiotics but you insisted on using yogurt instead, and we know that H. pylori causes cancer. Frankly, it’s really unlikely any of the food additives approved by the FDA caused it, because they’re tested for carcinogenicity in several species. Or for that matter, your cancer could be caused by simple errors in cell replication, sometimes the ’cause’ is merely the fact that you’ve been alive long enough for these errors to accumulate to disable your body’s built-in mechanisms to control cell growth. Sometimes we just don’t know what causes cancer, and that’s a reality we all have to live with. But whatever you do – don’t take massive doses of vitamins while undergoing chemotherapy, it interferes with the treatments we use to selectively kill tumor cells.”

      *I’m not linking to that shithead’s website.

  27. Steve Body says:

    There is an element of personal responsibility that’s lacking in this yoyo’s rise to prominence. It wasn’t all that long ago that there was no internet and quacks like Vani Hari were merely those folks who never got invited to parties and got the crap slapped out of them in bars because, sooner or later, everyone around her loses their capacity to put up with the constant stream of ignorance lamely disguised as passion. We coddle morons in today’s culture, all because they get a little cash together, build a website, and devote every second of their deluded existences to promoting themselves. And, with the current national capacity for outright hostility to thinking and politically-driven anti-intellectualism, all it takes to become the darling of the dumbed-down hordes is to shout the loudest, even if (maybe especially if) what you’re saying is total nonsense. If you have a political candidate from Oklahoma talking seriously about how we have a moral duty to kill gays, is ANYTHING out of bounds? There’s the William Shirer quote, “If Hitler had been taken to Piccadilly Circus and had his pants yanked down to his ankles, he never would have risen to power.” Sometimes the best response to people like Vani, who live by the adage “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right”, is to laugh and go on about your business. Giving her imbecilic utterances repeated analyses and using them as debating points just serves HER purposes and has no chance at all of resolving her phony “issues”. I hate to see anything like this, in a site as prominent as Forbes, because it elevates a clown with the principles of a sewer rat and the reasoning ability of a fire hydrant onto some plane she clearly does NOTHING to deserve. It’s attention she craves. If we stop giving it to her, she’s beaten.

  28. seeareess says:

    Hey, see if you can get her to wage a campaign against dihydrogen monoxide!

    But seriously, if only all this effectiveness could be brought to bear on something like CEO pay, the insurance industry, medical costs, fracking or climate change. Say, why is it that an ignorant loudmouth can bring big corporations to their knees but no number of scientists can develop sufficient public clout to get a whimper out of the oil industry or Wall Street?

  29. brewandferment says:

    OT: As of this moment, there are 99 comments here but only about a third of them have shown up in the comments RSS feed. I’ve refreshed it manually a couple of times without success. Anyone else having similar problems? any suggestions? thx

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      B&F: I’ve long had this issue. For me it is usually around 10-20% at most that don’t appear and most commonly when it is a large group of comments coming through at once.

      I try to infer a missing comment based on the comments that are there.

      1. brewandferment says:

        yeah, that pretty much describes my approach…but it’s obviously much more complicating with the various threads when a whole spray of tangents gets going. At least over at RI you can just find one unread and scroll up to the last one read. Sometimes I like this style of threading and then other times (like this) I curse it!

    2. Windriven says:

      @Brew and Andrey-
      I’ve had this problem too and have discussed it several times with Paul. My understanding is that the problem is of uncertain etiology. I infer that it is, understandably enough, not the single most pressing issue facing the editors. But they are aware.

  30. Jenrose says:

    I honestly don’t care about her rants about the individual ingredients. I NEED ingredient lists on everything I eat. Too many food allergies to risk it otherwise. So mostly I don’t drink beer, very minimal wine (no sulfite detected only) and stick to beverages with ingredient labels. Why anyone would object to ingredient lists is beyond me.

    1. Calli Arcale says:

      I have no problem with ingredient lists; what bothers me is people who elevate their ignorance not with education but by deciding that if they’ve never heard of it, it must be a horrible thing that has no place in their food. People like the Food Babe, in other words.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Ya, the problem isn’t the ingredient list, it’s when an ingredient with an unfamiliar name shows up and it’s treated as if it’s an argument.

        1. Chris says:

          Also if the ingredient was used in the process, like the isinglass and the fluid in the refrigerated vats, is not actually in the final product.

          1. Chris says:

            “the fluid in the refrigerated vats, ”

            To be clear… “the fluid in pipes that surround the refrigerated vats, “… not actually in the container.

            It is like saying the stuff in your fridge all contains the refrigerant because that is what is making it possible to cool the air in the fridge.

            1. ebohlman says:

              Taking this to its logical conclusion, modern brewing equipment is electronically controlled. Manufacturing semiconductor chips involves some very toxic chemicals. Should those be counted in the ingredient list? Should the petroleum products used to power the trucks that deliver the beer be included? Should any medications taken by the brewery employees be counted?

  31. Stella B. says:

    Weissbier in the winter? What kind of savage are you?

  32. Chris says:

    That explains why a lot of the entries about this on the web are so old (ie pre-dating the web). Thanks, Max – that clears it up!

  33. Stella B. says:

    Also, am I wrong in thinking that ethanol is toxic?

    1. David Gorski says:

      It depends upon the dose and the endpoint you’re looking at. For instance, more than a couple of drinks a day in men and one drink a day in women detectably increase the risk of specific cancers. On the other hand, a drink or two per day appears decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Different endpoints have different toxicities (or preventative effects) from ethanol, which makes its health harms and benefits, at least at moderate consumption, not always easy to disentangle. No one argues that drinking too much is bad for you. The health effects include cirrhosis, esophageal cancer, pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, and a whole bunch of other health problems. The question is where the overall balance between the various harmful, neutral, and beneficial effects of alcohol lies in low to moderate alcohol consumption.

  34. ps says:

    she should be given a large stein of the kind of cloudy, crap-infested beer served in the Middle Ages. All natural, of course.

    1. Frederick says:

      I often think about that, you see all those “since 1350″ and dates like that on beer and wine, But back then, beer must have been bad, flat and warm. I don’t know, modern techniques, even in Artisan beer, have evolved a lot, so my guess is that most beer of medieval times were totally crap! :-)

  35. David Carroll says:

    I am surprised that the food Babe has not denounced beer for containing dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO), which is found in every beer made by every brewer.

    Yes, this scary chemical has a another name. Water.

  36. Eric says:

    I’m at a loss per the “caffeine in beer” claim. Per a quick Google search, caffeine’s derived from purine, and barley is very low in purine. Also, I don’t know of any other yeast-based foods that create caffeine. I think this is a case of “there are espresso stouts and chocolate stouts on the market, those have some caffeine, therefore beer has caffeine!”

  37. Dana says:

    Why is it bad for people to know what’s in their beer? And why is it scientifically correct to be OK with azodicarbonamide being in bread even though there’s no need for it to be there? By the way, it IS a yoga mat chemical. They use it to make foamy plastic… yoga mats are made with foamy plastic. And saying “no good evidence” is weaselly. All I have to do is decide that none of the existing evidence is “good” and hey presto, I just proved a yoga mat chemical is safe to eat.

    Like I didn’t have enough reasons to avoid bread already…

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Why is it bad for people to know what’s in their beer?

      It’s not, except for any intellectual property loss this might lead to – not necessarily a strong argument, but present, because if you erode intellectual property protection you reduce incentives for innovation.

      What’s bad is pretending that this is some sort of great victory for the people, that beer companies had something to hide, that the government wasn’t protecting the safety of the food supply, and above all else – that merely because the Food Idiot can’t pronounce something, that it’s somehow a risk to human health.

      And why is it scientifically correct to be OK with azodicarbonamide being in bread even though there’s no need for it to be there? By the way, it IS a yoga mat chemical. They use it to make foamy plastic… yoga mats are made with foamy plastic.

      It depends on how you define “need”. Azodicarbonamide is used as a leavening agent essentially – it produces foam, bubbles, call it what you want, it produces air pockets. This has a variety of uses in bread and yoga mats – without it being in bread, you have a cracker. Without it being in yoga mats, you don’t have a dense but insulating foam. Nobody denies this, the fact is that merely because it is in yoga mats, that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. That is the illogical leap that the Food Idiot is making – merely because it can be used in industrial processing does not mean it is dangerous like many industrial chemicals can be. To make a comparison, ethyl hydroxide is a dangerous, flammable chemical that can be used to fuel (and degrease) internal combustion engines. By the Food Idiot’s “reasoning”, being a difficult, scary word to produce, with one use that is associated with a dangerous, polluting process, it must therefore be a human health hazard. Of course, ethyl hydroxide is merely ethanol, and if that’s to foreign, it’s also called alcohol – which is perfectly safe to drink, in small doses. “Science” is OK with its presence, and azodicarbonamide because there is no indication that either present dangers to human health when consumed in recommended amounts, and both have useful properties. Azodicarbonamide, for instance, speeds the leavening of bread, which in turn makes bread cheaper (but less tasty). So one could be a food snob and say it should be removed because they’re willing to pay $0.50 more for a more delicious Subway sandwich, but said person is also speaking for a vast multitude, some of whom may not be able to afford that increase in price, and some of whom may be annoyed by it because it’s caused by dishonest fearmongering foisted on a scientifically illiterate public.

      And saying “no good evidence” is weaselly. All I have to do is decide that none of the existing evidence is “good” and hey presto, I just proved a yoga mat chemical is safe to eat.

      That’s not quite how toxicology and food testing works. What you appear to be asking for is absolute safety, and nothing is absolutely safe. If you inhale too much oxygen, you can die. If you inhale too little carbon dioxide, you can die (breath fast enough and it throws off your blood pH, which can be lethal). If you drink too much water, too little salt, and you can die. There is literally no chemical in the universe that is not lethal in adequate concentrations and amounts. There is further no good reason to think that azodicarbonamide or the components it breaks down into (because remember – the reason it’s used is to create gasses that expand cells, in breads, beers and yoga mats; so by the time it gets to you, it’s not even there anymore) are dangerous. It’s been tested on rats, in doses that are literally impossible to consume unless you’ve got a bucket of pure azodicarbonamide, thousands if not millions of time the amount you would eat in a week of nothing but Subway sandwiches (or yoga mats).

      Meanwhile, the Food Idiot is conveniently for her famewhoredom ignoring things that are much more dangerous in beer – alcohol being primary among them. You can literally die from drinking even just beer, from both acute and chronic alcohol toxicity. There are literally millennia of proof for this, and an intricate biochemical grasp of how it happens. Meanwhile, there is absolutely zero evidence that azodicarbonamide is dangerous to anyone except an asthmatic getting a face full of the stuff. The absolute assurance you are looking for is impossible to reach, and even the higher assurance you imply is necessary is pointless – the Food Idiot will still be afraid of the not-at-all deadly yoga mat chemical, and it would cost thousands, if not millions of dollars (and thousands of laboratory animals) for each incremental bit of assurance.

      So that is why “there is no good evidence” is both factually accurate and meaningful – not weaselly. Scientists never speak in absolutes, only pseudoscientists and the scientifically naive do.

      Like I didn’t have enough reasons to avoid bread already…

      Nobody says you have to eat bread, eat at Subway, or eat any bread made with azodicarbonamide – but the Food Idiot has yanked the world down to her scientifically incorrect, fear-mongering level and forced everybody to eat her way. Not everyone wants to.

  38. Dan says:

    As a chemist I always pass along the constituent ingredients of food, in lieu of what those conspiratorial food companies want to tell me. http://jameskennedymonash.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ingredients-of-all-natural-blueberries-poster.jpeg

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  40. estockly says:

    I’m afraid you’ve really blown it this time, Dr. Gorski.

    I don’t dispute most of your descriptions and criticisms of ‘The Food Babe’ (although you are guilty of a strawman in her arguments about chemical names. It’s added chemicals as they appear on ingredient lists that she cautions against)

    But to compare her to Jenny McCarthy is way over the top, and completely unjustified. She has nothing in common with McCarthy, but most importantly, she has done no harm.

    Jenny McCarthy, on the other hand has done serious, deadly harm. There’s no comparison.

    Thanks in no small part to Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vax movement, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in easily preventable and often fatal diseases in some populations.

    Whooping cough is now reaching epidemic proportions, and even the children of infants who do vaccinate are now at risk. For no good reason.

    Where’s the harm in Food Babe’s advice? Where’s the increased risks for illness and death?

    If someone were to follow her advice, they would basically spend a bit more money on organic products, avoid most highly processed and refined foods in favor of fresh whole foods. That’s perfectly consistent with some of the healthiest nutrition advice that’s been on this website and from experts like Michael Pollan.

    How can you compare her with someone who has contributed to the spread of major diseases among infants, toddlers and young children?

    1. David Gorski says:

      But to compare her to Jenny McCarthy is way over the top, and completely unjustified. She has nothing in common with McCarthy, but most importantly, she has done no harm.

      Nope. It’s a very apt comparison, given the Food Babe’s fear mongering over chemicals that sound scary but are not harmful. It contributes to the overall ignorance of the American public, and, let’s not forget, that the Food Babe is antivaccine as well, as Mark Crislip demonstrated very recently.

      Nope. I stand by my characterization of the Food Babe as the Jenny McCarthy of food. The sad thing is, she’s also another Jenny McCarthy of vaccines. She’s just not as well known for it, and it isn’t as big a part of her schtick as her using the “yucky ingredients” or “ingredients I can’t spell or pronounce” ploy. As I pointed out in her addendum she doesn’t even know that propylene glycol and propylene glycol alginate are not the same chemical.

      It’s also not a straw man regarding chemical names. She really did say (to paraphrase) that if she can’t spell or pronounce the name of an ingredient it probably shouldn’t be in food, and she didn’t differentiate between added chemicals and what’s in food.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      If someone were to follow her advice, they would basically spend a bit more money on organic products, avoid most highly processed and refined foods in favor of fresh whole foods. That’s perfectly consistent with some of the healthiest nutrition advice that’s been on this website and from experts like Michael Pollan.

      Spread over enough land and economies, this is a recipe for starvation and malnutrition. Sure, the wealthy West would probably be OK, but a lot of poor African, Asian and South American citizens would end up facing food shortages if not outright riots. Organic food is much less efficient and much more expensive, particularly if your food budget is already tight. Not to mention, over the long term she contributes to scientific illiteracy which erodes essentially all decision-making the world over.

      Merely because JM is worse doesn’t mean VH shouldn’t be called to task.

      Not to mention, the comparison between the two was in terms of scientific illiteracy, not body count. Both are equally ignorant, even if McCarthy’s advice can be more deadly.

      Citing Michael “I don’t understand GMOs but I still hate them” Pollan isn’t going to get you much credit.

      1. estockly says:

        >>Spread over enough land and economies, this is a recipe for starvation and malnutrition. Sure, the wealthy West would probably be OK, but a lot of poor African, Asian and South American citizens would end up facing food shortages if not outright riots.

        That’s nonsense. The risk of food babe triggering food riots and starvation is nearly zero. But the antivaxers have a real life body count.

        >>Merely because JM is worse doesn’t mean VH shouldn’t be called to task.

        Never said she shouldn’t be criticized.

        It’s like a variant of Godwin’s law with McCarthy as the new Hitler.

        If anyone we disagree with or has some minor things in common with McCarthy, but hasn’t hurt anyone and hasn’t done anywhere near the harm that she has, then the comparison shouldn’t be made.

        Would you say Jenny McCarthy is the “Food Babe” of vaccinations? Well meaning, but ignorant, and offering OK advice? Hell no!

        The” Jenny McCarthy of food” should be reserved for someone who has actually sickened or killed innocent people with the positions they’ve advocated.

        >me>”That’s perfectly consistent with some of the healthiest nutrition advice that’s been on this website and from experts like Michael Pollan.”

        >>Citing Michael “I don’t understand GMOs but I still hate them” Pollan isn’t going to get you much credit.

        Harriet Hall cited Pollan and I was referencing that.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          t’s like a variant of Godwin’s law with McCarthy as the new Hitler.

          The funny thing is that is exactly what I thought I was reading your comment. But I refrained from mentioning it because it seemed so… Godwin.

          In any event, I’ll refer you to my earlier comment. But I’ll just TL;DR: that your entire complaint is that you are choosing to focus on the comparison from one perspective (from the outcomes side) whereas Gorski is focusing on another (the process and tactics side). Each are equally valid ways to look at it and make a comparison. I think everyone here would agree that if looking at it from your perspective that it is not a good comparison to make. But looking at it from the other seems perfectly fine.

        2. Harriet Hall says:

          “Harriet Hall cited Pollan”

          I agree with Pollan’s bottom line: eat food, not too much, mainly plants. I don’t agree with everything he says, and I’m not against GMOs or avoiding things just because you can’t pronounce them.

        3. Harriet Hall says:

          “The” Jenny McCarthy of food” should be reserved for someone who has actually sickened or killed innocent people”

          Only if you think that is what defines her. I think it is appropriate to define her as someone who misunderstands science and gives bad advice. You might as well claim the Jenny McCarthy of food title should be reserved for someone who is blonde and had nude photos in Playboy.

          1. David Gorski says:

            Harriet FTW!

            Seriously, though. I’ve explained in this comment thread the reasons why I consider The Food Babe to be the Jenny McCarthy of food. They’re valid reasons.

        4. JD says:

          That’s nonsense. The risk of food babe triggering food riots and starvation is nearly zero.

          Okay, but there is the possibility of a much more detrimental effect. Think about the factors contributing to continued outbreaks of polio virus infection in Nigeria. A large part of the problem is widespread distrust of the vaccine and aid workers who distribute it. This is discussed by the BBC Here

          Now consider the consequences for aid workers assisting with food shortages if the fear-mongering related to GMOs or the foods demonized by Hari were to be adopted by populations in Africa or elsewhere in the developing world. If efforts to vaccinate can be co-opted as a political tool, there is no reason that the same wouldn’t happen if enough false panic is aroused.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Now consider the consequences for aid workers assisting with food shortages if the fear-mongering related to GMOs or the foods demonized by Hari were to be adopted by populations in Africa or elsewhere in the developing world.

            That isn’t a theoretical risk.

    3. Sawyer says:

      It’s unclear to me that Vani would be able to pass a 7th grade science class (or considering her penchant for misinforming the public, 7th grade civics). I don’t understand why anyone even casually concerned about what’s going into their body would find this level of nonsense acceptable, whether it’s dealing with medicine or food. Vani deserves every bit of scorn Dr. Gorski delivered and more.

      Where’s the harm in Food Babe’s advice? Where’s the increased risks for illness and death?

      There’s technically no risk of illness or death if I go out on the street and insist everyone believe that Kanye West was the first president of the USA. Hey I’m just trying to get people more interested in history, so it’s okay if I get the facts wrong.

      Is physical harm really the only standard we are allowed to employ in judging if someone is a moron?

      1. estockly says:

        >>Is physical harm really the only standard we are allowed to employ in judging if someone is a moron?

        No, but it is a good standard when we’re going to refer to them as the “Jenny McCarthy of ” anything.

        It actually makes McCarthy seem benign.

        1. Harriet Hall says:

          Is that one phrase the only criticism you have of Dr. Gorski’s article? You are beginning to sound like a tone troll.

          1. Andrey Pavlov says:

            I don’t know that it is so much tone as the fact that estockly apprehended the comparison from a completely different viewpoint.

            Hopefully I have made that clear, as have you and Dr. Gorski.

            Estockly’s response will be telling.

            There is nothing wrong with going at something from the wrong angle. We all do it. But when the explanation is sufficient it should warrant an acceptance and moving on.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              As I say below, it’s basically a minor difference of opinion based on the specific emotional reactions we attach to each component of the argument and reputation/identity of the individual participants. There is no right answer, and depending on whether you are more disgusted with body counts or intellectual dishonesty, you will find the comparison more or less compelling. estockly is absolutely correct that McCarthy’s body count is much higher, and comparing the two could be seen as trivializing – but my skim of comments doesn’t suggest s/he recognizes the validity of the comparison of tactics.

              I think we can agree to mostly agree, really – both suck, both lie, and it would be nice if both were ignored.

    4. Chris says:

      “But to compare her to Jenny McCarthy is way over the top, and completely unjustified. She has nothing in common with McCarthy, but most importantly, she has done no harm.”

      I just noticed that Dr. Novella did that comparison because neither understand “anti-freeze:
      “She calls propylene glycol the “anti-freeze ingredient.” That comment officially makes her the Jenny McCarthy of food.”

      I hope that clears it up a bit.

  41. Why alcoholic beverages should be subject to the same ingredient disclosure laws as all the other food items on store shelves:

    FOOD ALLERGIES.

    1. Chris says:

      Most beer is made of the same stuff, and those who are gluten intolerant (or even allergic) know that it is made of grains that contain gluten. Also they would know if they have an issue with hops and brewer’s yeast.

      Do you have a particular allergy to the protein in isinglass? Do you have some allergy to calcium phosphate? And are you extremely sensitive to the stuff that is used in chilling systems? Like propylene glycol?

      When googling “propylene glycol” I wanted to find a general graphic on how the tubes of the heat transfer fluids are arranged around the container, but alas! I only found lots and lots and lots of companies that sell specialized equipment to chill beer, both in its manufacture and in its storage at a bar. So all I can suggest is for you to find a mechanical engineer and ask to borrow his/her thermodynamics and/or heat transfer textbook.

  42. estockly says:

    Correction: That should be “even the infant children of parents who do vaccinate

    : }

  43. David Gorski says:

    Apparently the Food Babe was actually a bit stung at the criticism of her scientific and chemical ignorance and has actually responded. See my addendum. Apparently she thinks that propylene glycol alginate is the same thing as propylene glycol. Hilarious!

  44. estockly says:

    >>Nope. It’s a very apt comparison, given the Food Babe’s fear mongering over chemicals that sound scary but are not harmful. It contributes to the overall ignorance of the American public

    Ignorance is a negative thing. You can’t really feed it. But I see your point. Maybe she’s adding to the number of misinformed?

    But where is the Jenny McCarthy scale body count? Compare the harm McCarthy has done in literally killing babies and increasing the incidence of serious and deadly infectious disease, and food babe’s advice, which, although based on ignorance and not scientific, may actually be beneficial.

    She’s probably not quite as ignorant or ill-informed as McCarthy, either.

    >>let’s not forget, that the Food Babe is antivaccine as well, as Mark Crislip demonstrated very recently.

    I didn’t realize that, but there is a huge difference between explaining why one chooses not to get a flu shot (for really bad reasons) and advocating parents not vaccinate their children.

    >>It’s also not a straw man regarding chemical names. She really did say (to paraphrase) that if she can’t pronounce a chemical name it probably shouldn’t be in food, and she didn’t differentiate between added chemicals and what’s in food.

    I’ll go back and look at her posts but from what read and heard from her, the advice is to read the food labels and if the food label lists ingredients you can’t pronounce, avoid it. Food labels don’t list chemical names for all ingredients, just those that are added or “artificial.”

    Advocating people avoid those foods doesn’t kill babies the way avoiding childhood vaccinations does.

    It may even be helpful, since the foods with chemicals on their labels are usually highly processed and not a healthy as fresh, whole foods.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Ignorance is a negative thing. You can’t really feed it. But I see your point. Maybe she’s adding to the number of misinformed?

      A valid point about ignorance, but I would argue that Dr. Gorski’s point still stands. She is not just misinforming them, she is also telling them this is all you need to know on a topic to make assertions about it. That is indeed feeding ignorance. In the same way religion breeds ignorance.

      But where is the Jenny McCarthy scale body count?

      Well if in your mind that specific requirement must be met for the comparison, then sure. But there are many other ways in which she is comparable and that is what Dr. Gorski is referring to. I don’t think he is overstating the idea that their approach, level of expertise, and leveraging of the ignorance, fallacies, and biases of people combined with fear mongering and a proud display of scientific ignorance are comparable between the two.

      She’s probably not quite as ignorant or ill-informed as McCarthy, either.

      Probably? Not quite? Well if you resort to guesses and subjective assessments then sure it means whatever you wish it to mean. But I think the point is that she is incredibly ignorant and ill-informed. And that is quite demonstrable. I don’t think one can readily quantify the “amount” at which each is ignorant and ill-informed, so it seems rather pointless to quibble over the distinction.

      I’ll go back and look at her posts but from what read and heard from her, the advice is to read the food labels and if the food label lists ingredients you can’t pronounce, avoid it.

      Oh she has a lot more to say than that. Go over to the page Gorski linked in the addendum here.

      Food labels don’t list chemical names for all ingredients, just those that are added or “artificial.”

      Not entirely true. And even if it is, so what?

      Advocating people avoid those foods doesn’t kill babies the way avoiding childhood vaccinations does.

      Once again, so what? You want to argue that McCarthy has more profound negative health effects? You won’t get an argument here. But you are focusing only on the outcome of the two and saying it is a false comparison. Gorski is focusing on the process and tactics of the two and saying they are the same.

      It may even be helpful, since the foods with chemicals on their labels are usually highly processed and not a healthy as fresh, whole foods.

      Also not true. She started gaining fame with her “yoga mat chemical” in Subway bread. They were forced to pull it, due to PR pressure from her fear mongering. Now the bread will be more costly to produce, may not taste as good, and may dissuade customers from purchasing what would otherwise be a healthy sandwich alternative to an otherwise less healthy lunch.

    2. David Gorski says:

      She’s probably not quite as ignorant or ill-informed as McCarthy, either.

      Seriously? Did you see my addendum? Did you see her utter ignorance of chemistry? Oh, no. She’s every bit as ignorant about science and chemistry as Jenny McCarthy—maybe even more so!

    3. David Gorski says:

      I didn’t realize that, but there is a huge difference between explaining why one chooses not to get a flu shot (for really bad reasons) and advocating parents not vaccinate their children.

      Read Mark Crislip’s post. She spewed the same nonsense as Jenny McCarthy about injecting “toxins” directly “into the bloodstream.” Here are some quotes:

      What’s exactly in the Flu Shot? To sum it up – A bunch of toxic chemicals and additives that lead to several types of Cancers and Alzheimer disease over time.

      Here’s a list of what could be lurking in that vial of vaccine:

      • Egg Products (including avian contaminant viruses)
      • Aluminum
      • Thimersol (Mercury)
      • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
      • Chick Embryo Cells
      • Latex
      • Formaldehyde
      • Gelatin
      • Polysorbate 80
      • Triton X100 (strong detergent)
      • Sucrose (table sugar)
      • Resin
      • Gentamycin

      I won’t eat any of these ingredients or even put them on my body – however, the mainstream medical community, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies suggest that I directly inject these ingredients into my bloodstream? And I need do it every year until I die? Are you freaking kidding me? Long term effects of the combination of these toxic additives are very alarming – a very famous immunologist & geneticist has completed studies and research that shows in that every five flu shots a person receives over a ten year period they increase their risk of Alzheimer Disease by ten times! This is because of the ingredients above – Aluminum and Mercury – they slowly destroy your brain cells one by one.

      Straight from the antivaccine playbook.

      Let’s look at it this way. Jenny McCarthy claims she is not “antivaccine” but rather “anti-toxins” in vaccines—just the same way that the Food Babe claims she is against “toxins” in food. (Remember “Green Our Vaccines”?) Both base their fear of various chemicals on a willful ignorance of chemistry and science. There are so many similarities.

      1. Angora Rabbit says:

        “Chick Embryo Cells..I won’t eat any of these ingredients or even put them on my body.”

        I cannot resist…

        Bad news, food bimbo. You know that little white dot on the top of the egg yolk, visible when you crack the egg contents into the bowl? Guess what that is. Yes! Chick embryo cells! And from the unfertilized egg – so maybe that is even worse.

        Besides, everyone knows that Anheuser-Busch doesn’t make beer.

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      But where is the Jenny McCarthy scale body count? Compare the harm McCarthy has done in literally killing babies and increasing the incidence of serious and deadly infectious disease, and food babe’s advice, which, although based on ignorance and not scientific, may actually be beneficial

      So…unless someone’s scientific ignorance is actively killing people, they can’t be criticized?

      It sounds like we agree on almost everything, your sole objection seems to be to the emotional reaction people might have to compare Jenny McCarthy’s antivaccine activisim to Vani Hari’s antichemical activisim (and antivaccine, even if she hasn’t dry-humped that angle quite as hard as McCarthy just yet). So we agree that both are scientifically ignorant and both mislead the public (which was why Dr. Gorski compared them) but only McCarthy has an associated body count. In your opinion, it’s subjectively distasteful to therefore compare them because of the emotional impact of that comparison. There’s a certain validity I can see in that, but I also see why Dr. Gorski’s comparison is factually accurate. You both have a point, for what it’s worth I see Dr. Gorski’s as more concrete and agree with it more, perhaps because of my own idiosyncratic reaction ot objecting to the misinformation as much or more than the actual real-world effects of each. Which is irrational, since McCarthy’s effects are obviously much worse. But realistically, there is no way to objectively resolve this dispute, it’s a purely subjective discussion.

      It may even be helpful, since the foods with chemicals on their labels are usually highly processed and not a healthy as fresh, whole foods.

      You’re still lying to people and eroding the public’s ability to adequately assess and understand the scientific evidence. I see lying to the public “for their own good” as rather Machiavellian, nanny-stateish and ultimately, over the long term, likely to backfire. I would much rather people eat fresh foods, fruits and vegetables for their laudatory health benefits and in an ideal world, because they taste good, rather than because of an irrational fear.

  45. Chris says:

    See http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/omg-the-chemicalz/ … he compares her to Jenny McCarthy with: “She calls propylene glycol the “anti-freeze ingredient.” That comment officially makes her the Jenny McCarthy of food.”

    1. David Gorski says:

      Yup. The Food Babe is stealing from the Jenny McCarthy playbook, just aiming her nonsense at food instead of vaccines.

  46. Dan says:

    FB should also do a quick wiki on caramelization which is a common process occurring during brewing in many beers. Or maybe maillard browning reactions which occur during the roasting of malted barley. Both processes produce hundreds of compounds from the simplest of sugars and carbohydrates.

    But ohhh… those big words again… but lots of flavor!

    Caramelization is a complex, poorly understood process that produces hundreds of chemical products, and includes the following types of reaction:

    equilibration of anomeric and ring forms
    sucrose inversion to fructose and glucose
    condensation reactions
    intramolecular bonding
    isomerization of aldoses to ketoses
    dehydration reactions
    fragmentation reactions
    unsaturated polymer formation.

  47. Dawn says:

    She is doing something right. You just wrote a long post about her that actually had me interested in checking her website out and thinking you’re an asshole for the tone of your article. So you have a couple of sources that claim GMO is not bad for you. Why would I want to put engineered food in my body?

    1. David Gorski says:

      Because the dichotomy between GMOs and most of our other food is a false one, perhaps?

      One notes that you are unable or unwilling to point out any errors in fact or science in my post. All you can complain about is “tone” and say, “Oooh, ice, GMOs!”

    2. Sawyer says:

      “Why would I want to put engineered food in my body?”

      Well being responsible for the dawn of civilization seems like something I’d mark in the “Pros” column for engineered food. But if you want to tell us what non-engineered bananas taste like have at it.

    3. Chris says:

      “So you have a couple of sources that claim GMO is not bad for you.”

      Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food

      …. and, you’ll love their mascot:

      http://www.biofortified.org/

    4. Windriven says:

      ” Why would I want to put engineered food in my body?”

      I don’t know. Why would you want to drive an engineered car or fly in an engineered airplane? Why would you want to communicate using an engineered computer over an engineered communications network?

      Is it the engineering of food that disturbs you? Or is it the notion that BigAgriculture benefits? If the former, you’re just silly. We have, as Sawyer pointed out, engineered food for thousands of years. It is how we have managed a global population of 7 billion without confronting a Malthusian crisis.

      If it is the BigAg aspect, I don’t entirely disagree. But that is a political issue not a scientific one.

    5. Andrey Pavlov says:

      A better question is why wouldn’t you want to put engineered food in your body?

      Because if you really stuck to putting nothing engineered in your body your choice of foods would dwindle extremely rapidly and the few things left. Unless you can find and enjoy teosinte for example (as you won’t be able to eat corn, as it is all engineered from teosinte and maize).

      And it’s not a couple of sources that show GMO is safe. It is pretty much all of them. In fact there are only two studies that claimed to show actual harm from GMO. The Seralini study (which has been retracted) and the Carman study (which is an extremely poorly done study).

    6. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      She is doing something right.

      What, lying about, or at minimum being ignorant of, food ingredients? Failing to understand toxicology? Why is this laudible?

      You just wrote a long post about her that actually had me interested in checking her website out and thinking you’re an asshole for the tone of your article.

      So…because Dr. Gorski is mean to an igorant woman desperately marketing herself through fear, you think he’s wrong? You should talk to Pete Moran, you guys would get along great. But more pertinently – what are you, eight years old? Truth and reality are independent of whether or not someone is nice. Galileo was apparently a giant dick – doesn’t mean the moons of Jupiter don’t exist.

      So you have a couple of sources that claim GMO is not bad for you. Why would I want to put engineered food in my body?

      As Chris points out – there are myriad popular sources that you could read to educate yourself about genetic modification. She doesn’t mention that Biofortified has a list of more than 500 safety studies of GM foods, not funded by industry, that find no additional risks. But I’ll hit some more highlights here:

      - Genetic modification occurs in nature. Plant breeding exists because of genetic modification. Even the insertion of wholly novel genes from non-plants into plant germ lines occurs in nature. In fact, the only reason why humans can put fish genes into tomatoes is because of the naturally-occuring Agrobacterium genus.
      - Conventionally-bred crops are “conventionally bred” by blasting them with radiation and mutagenic chemicals to force novel genes into existence. It’s rather like blowing up a rock face in the hopes that it conveniently disassembles itself into a pile of bricks.
      - GM plants are tested for allergenicity, which conventional crops are not; they managed to conventionally breed a type of celery that was actually toxic, which has never happened with GM crops. That “blasting with radiation” thing I mention above? It does indeed produce novel genes, and thus novel proteins – which are not tested for allergenicity.
      - That whole “adding a fish gene to a tomato” I mention above? This is used so the tomato will produce a protein that gloms onto ice crystal seeds and prevents the fish/tomato from freezing. Same protein. So if you eat the fish, you are already eating the tomato.

      I will add to your reading list, the following series from Nathanael Johnson, published at Grist.org (a surprising source when you consider that website’s usual position):

      http://grist.org/series/panic-free-gmos/

      It’s a good series, I learned a lot. You should read it.

  48. Max says:

    First, she’s not just the Jenny McCarthy of food, but of vaccines as well.
    In 2011, she posted the “toxic chemicals and additives” in flu shots, and concluded, “I’m not taking the Flu Shot. Ever.” Some commenters praised her, but others unsubscribed.

    But comparing her to Jenny McCarthy is preaching to the choir, To reach out to her liberal mommy following, call her the Glenn Beck of food or the Alex Jones of food.

    On the flip side, Dr. Joe Schwarcz is the favorite chemist of the industry shill ACSH. You remember ACSH, Dr. Gorski? You’ve written about them.
    ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom says, “If there is anyone better than Joe at writing about this subject ["chemophobia"], I haven’t met him or her yet.”

    At the moment, ACSH is busy opposing regulation of e-cigarettes, which you’ve also written about. Here are their top tags right now: cancer Smokeless Tobacco BPA e-cigarettes DDT CDC diabetes breast cancer tobacco smoking FDA Phthalates vaping GMOs smokeless tobacco products vaper obesity vaccines e-cigs Cigarettes.

    1. Max says:

      Didn’t notice that you addressed the anti-vaccine agitation in the comments. The blog post was long enough that I didn’t read through all of it and the comments.

      I also just noticed that the blog post cited Josh Bloom. He’s the Director of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences at the ACSH.

    2. David Gorski says:

      I happen to know Joe Schwarcz personally. I’ve been on his radio show two or three times, and a few years ago I spoke at the Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium series:

      http://www.mcgill.ca/science/events/trottier-symposium/2010

      As well as hung out with him at TAM a couple of years. I guess that makes me a hopelessly tainted tool of the ACSH as well. Oh, wait. As you pointed out, I’ve been pretty ruthless about going after the ACSH for some of its less science-based pronouncements, haven’t I?

      More germane, though: Is there anything about the Food Babe that Dr. Schwarcz has said or that I have cited that is incorrect? Not that I’ve found, but I don’t claim to have read everything he’s written. Is there anything factually or scientifically incorrect in that post by Josh Bloom about the Food Babe? Not that I found. What about you? Nope? You want me to find other, “purer” sources to point out why the Food Babe is an idiot? I could sure do that, and they would say pretty much the same thing for the same reasons because the Food Babe is an idiot.

      1. Bryan says:

        The Food Babe is indeed an idiot, but she wouldn’t die of B12-deficiency if she were to completely avoid cyanocobalamin, as Dr. Schwarcz implied. This factory biosynthesized form of B12 isn’t normally present in significant quantities in food or in the human body. Hydroxo-, methyl- and adenosylcobalamin are, but I’m not sure that she’d experience less difficulty pronouncing these naturally ocurring cobalamins :)

      2. Max says:

        For one thing, Dr. Schwarcz said that azodicarbonamide in bread is neither necessary nor harmful.
        CSPI says to avoid it: “Considering that many breads don’t contain azodicarbonamide and that its use slightly increases exposure to a carcinogen, this is hardly a chemical that we need in our food supply. It appears that the Delaney amendment, which bars the use of additives that cause cancer in humans or animals, would require FDA to bar its use. At the very least, FDA should reduce the amount allowed to be used.”

        In April, ACSH praised Dr. Schwarcz’s blog post on HuffPo titled “A Treatment for Chemophobia.”
        Four years ago, Orac wrote, “There she is, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, President and Founder of ACSH herself, going on and on about “chemophobia,” which she refers to as an “emotional, psychiatric problem.” Here the leader of the ACSH is characterizing her ideological foes as having a psychiatric disorder (i.e., as mentally ill)…”

        1. David Gorski says:

          So? You yourself said that CSPI is like the mirror image of ACSH, erring on the side of too much caution and against industry. Given that, then its concern about azodicarbonamide sounds mighty wimpy indeed.

          As for the word “chemophobia,” I’ve criticized the use of that word publicly, yes. Again, so what? I seem to be in the minority with respect to finding the use of the word chemophobia problematic, as lots of skeptics who have nothing to do with ACSH or industry have a tendency to use the word as well. I also note that when I criticized Whelan, I also pointed out that she very specifically referred to chemophobia as an actual mental illness, which was so far over the top as to be worthy of a takedown. Maybe I’ll write a post about my opinions about why the word shouldn’t be used. I guarantee it’ll piss some skeptics off if and when I do.

          In any case, you have yet to demonstrate any errors in fact or science in any of the articles that I’ve cited (with the exception of the Food Babe’s, of course, but that was rather the point of my post).

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Do it. Skeptics need more dissent, it helps maintain habits of mental suppleness and forces a focus on evidence rather than personality. Even skeptics get drawn into believing people rather than evidence.

            1. David Gorski says:

              It’s one of those topics that I keep meaning to write up, but somehow something always gets in the way—like the Food Babe spewing misinformation about chemicals or Dr. Oz getting his posterior handed to him by Senator Claire McCaskill.

              1. Max says:

                Brian Dunning called it xenophobia, to connote bigotry as well.
                Similar to calling all criticism of Jihad “Islamophobia.”

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Max, I would still rather listen to an informed, educated chemist, even with industry ties, than an ignorant woman who doesn’t even understand the first premise of toxicology (the dose makes the poison) and treats food as a source of contamination fears rather than nutrients.

                Joe Schwarcz is associated with a pro-chemistry group, that doesn’t mean that his facts are invalid. Nor does it mean that Vani Hari knows a peroxide from an amine.

              3. Max says:

                William, given those two choices, I would too.
                But I’d rather listen to CSPI than to ACSH or Dr. Schwarcz.
                CSPI’s reasons to avoid azodicarbonamide are much more reasonable than Food Babe’s. I’ll believe Schwarcz when he says to avoid a food additive.

              4. David Gorski says:

                Ah, I understand now. Max will believe Schwarcz only when Schwarcz says something he agrees with to prove to Max he’s not a shill.

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              William, given those two choices, I would too.
              But I’d rather listen to CSPI than to ACSH or Dr. Schwarcz.
              CSPI’s reasons to avoid azodicarbonamide are much more reasonable than Food Babe’s. I’ll believe Schwarcz when he says to avoid a food additive.

              And I would much rather believe the ACSH and Dr. Schwartz than the CSPI. The CSPI seems to be much enamoured of the precautionary principle, which, while valid, tends to be over-applied by a strongly chemophobic public. Probably because most of the natural threats to human health have become mitigated by public health agencies, or familiar enough to be considered “safe”. A rational approach to human health would seem to allow azodicarbonamide and ban swimming pools, because there is far more direct evidence of harm to human health for the latter than there is for the former. Hundreds of children drown in swimming pools every year – yet the Food Idiot is worried about a bubbling agent that breaks down under high-heat conditions used to activate the bubbling process.

              Azodicarbonamide isn’t thalidomide, it isn’t even Aristolochia, and to pretend it is merely because the Food Idiot can’t pronounce it and doesn’t know what it’s for is absurd.

      3. Harriet Hall says:

        I second that. I consider Joe a personal friend and I’ve read and reviewed his books. I’ve never known him to be wrong, biased, or sloppy in his research. I consider him a sane voice of science and reason. Whatever you think of ACSH, Dr. Joe himself is about as far from a shill for industry as you can get.

        1. David Gorski says:

          Indeed. I have to ask him if he’s going to TAM this year. I’d like to hang with him at the Del Mar and have a brew or two.

  49. Max says:

    “It’s the first time Anheuser-Busch has detailed the ingredients of its beers.”

    Good. Why aren’t they required to reveal their ingredients? That doesn’t bother you?

    Avoiding unpronounceable ingredients is just a way of avoiding unfamiliar ingredients. Obviously, if you break down an “apple” into all its chemicals, it’ll be long and unpronounceable. Of course some poisons like cyanide are also well-known and easy to pronounce. Speaking of which, ferrocyanides are used in table salt as an anticaking agent.

    An additive that stuck out for me recently is polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) in chocolate. Like the toxin ricin and the laxative castor oil, it’s derived from the castor bean, but it’s used as a cheap replacement for cocoa butter. Sounds to me like an adulterant, like adulterating honey with cheap high fructose corn syrup.

    Calling propylene glycol alginate “antifreeze” is easily-debunked BS. According to CSPI, it’s “an apparently safe derivative of seaweed.” Unlike ACSH, which errs on the side of industry, CSPI errs on the side of caution, so if even CSPI says an ingredient is safe, that carries more weight.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Calling propylene glycol alginate “antifreeze” is easily-debunked BS.

      Rather missing the point that she didn’t debunk this. Oh, and most of her readers aren’t exactly going to be big on fact-checking.

      1. Max says:

        Of course she didn’t debunk it. It’s her BS. I debunked it under one of her blog posts and referred readers to CSPI. Got through to at least one commenter before my whole thread was deleted.

    2. ebohlman says:

      For a long time, CSPI was asserting that trans fats were safer than saturated fats.

  50. Max says:

    The same people who complain about the use of azodicarbonamide in yoga mats will gush about the dozen uses of apple cider vinegar for everything from repelling fleas to killing weeds to cleaning toilet bowls. Ewww, even fleas won’t go near it, yet you put that toilet herbicide in salad?

  51. Preston Garrison says:

    Dealing with the American consumer must be a real pain, generally. I was just trying to explain to some paranoid fellow customers at FT DNA that there was really no problem with allowing your Y DNA sequence to be submitted to NCBI, where it would be associated only with an anonymous code and no trait information. The fact that NCBI is run by a government agency (National Library of Medicine) was enough for these yahoos to regard it with maximum suspicion. Strangely, they’re fine with the sequence being held by a private company. Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep, and who it will be directed at, the government, the corporations, your weird neighbor, or the aliens, seems to be sort of random.

    1. Windriven says:

      “Dealing with the American consumer must be a real pain, generally.”

      Not really. Most Americans* seem either oblivious to or unconcerned by the mountains of personal data collected, processed, and sold by Google, Facebook, and other outfits. It doesn’t take much inclination to dystopian paranoia to imagine an ugly future. Nonetheless, Americans in general will gladly accept a free bauble today without much concern for the consequences tomorrow.

      I’ll leave any musings about the relationship between Americans and their government to others, noting only that the American distrust of large centralized government predates the signing of the constitution.

      *I was under the impression that Google was used beyond American shores.

  52. Beer Lover says:

    Dear All,

    I agree with all you say about this girl. I’d like to touch another topic. On one side many of the people here make fun of Food Babe and her fear of “EVIL” stuff campaign and on the other side you give the impression that Buschs or Millers are also “EVIL” just because they are big. You may say whatever you like about the big brewers, but they are experts in producing a consistent quality brew after brew, something the small guys are so far uncapable of. Not to speak about their microbiology problems. Every craft brewer wants to grow to become the next million barrel brewery, they want to be famous, they want to brew for as many as possible, and to be able to do that, they have to be consistent time after time. There’s a certain ammount of IPAs you’ll tolerate during a baseball, NASCAR or NBA party. The light beers are the lowest common denomitaor with regard to flavour and quantity you can consume, as are Cigarettes against cigarrs,SNICKERS against 80% Ecuador cocoa, Chedar vs Roquefort, Wine Cooler against 1967 Rothschild and so on. They light beers are the MOST difficult to produce, because if you make ANY mistake it will immediately be noticed. It has to be appealing even after weeks of bottling. 8% alcohol, dark coloured, heavy brews are not so much of a science as are light lagers. You will seldom find from crafts appealing light lager brews. When does the craft brewer become “EVIL” ? Samuel Adams makes more than 3 Million barrels, that’s more than most breweries in the world. Why aren’t they also on the shootlist? because they have a good image and Budweiser doesn’t.

    1. Frederick says:

      Oh I give you that, i don’t say they are evil, yes they have consistency, and yes they have decent beer, That’s what i pointed out, I do drink from big name, because some make decent product, and they are cheaper.

      But Microbrewery have real skill, sometimes, Not all of course, the most disgusting beers I tasted were artisan beer, I remember one that taste like Muskol, this is not joke, you know when you spray the stuff too much and you kind of taste it, well, that was it.
      And an other time, i tasted white Belgian style beer that tasted like sunlight dish soap, they kind of mess up the whole citrus fruit flavor And I also got bad batch of beer once.
      But a lot of them a real passionate about their stuff, and when they become a little bigger, they invest in better equipment and can have rel good consistency too! and it is also cool when those guy are people you know, are from you region and make a real good living because of that, and all this by making awesome beers.

    2. Windriven says:

      “but [Buschs or Millers] are experts in producing a consistent quality

      Yes. So are IHOP and McDonald’s. Consistent does not equal good.

      ” brew after brew, something the small guys are so far uncapable of.”

      And many of us see that as a virtue rather than a complaint.

      Megabeers have their place. It is something to serve in-laws who have overstayed. It is even fine to drink one’s self on a hot afternoon of playing sports or doing yardwork when the beer is just cold carbonated liquid and one’s attention is focused elsewhere.

      But in general, life is too short to drink mass processed beer, to eat hot house tomatoes in July, or to vacation at Motel 6.

    3. Jason Bell says:

      The small guys aren’t capable of producing consistent quality? Plenty of the small guys where I’m from can. Quality management and process control in a brewery aren’t exactly rocket science. To be sure, there are small brewers who lack the skills or training, and some very good breweries embracing batch to batch variability, but as a rule, a craft brewery with any staying power produces consistent products.

  53. Krishna Chandra Singh Sanger says:

    The following facts should prove invaluable to Hari in propagating her brand of IGNORANCE. How did she forget to mention about the deadliest of all ingredients present in the largest concentration in all BEERs.
    The Deadly facts about WATER
    1. Water is the stuff that is chemically synthesized by burning Rocket Fuel.
    2. Over consumption can cause excessive sweating, urination and even death.
    3.100 % of all serial killers, rapists and drug dealers have admitted to drinking water.
    4. Water is one of the main ingredients in herbicides and pesticides.
    5. Water is the leading cause of drowning.
    6. 100 % of people ever exposed to water are sure to DIE.

    1. MadisonMD says:

      Not to mention an even more deadly chemical in beer that sometimes exceeds 5% v/v and has a far lower LD50 than water: CH3CH2OH

  54. Bill says:

    What’s the harm…?

    It is wrong everywhere and always to allow false statements to go unchallenged. Misinformation is the “gateway” drug to believing the non-scientific tripe published on “natural” web sites and from organizations like the so-called “Environmental Working Group”. (Does anyone have any detailed info on EWG?)

    A local newspaper columnist just wrote an article on the evils of many sunscreens that contain, OMG–Kemiculz! She noted that Consumer Reports advised against using a few of the commercial products, then noted that EWG advised against many more than CR. Then she allowed as to how, in her opinion, EWG was much more reliable than CR. Why? Dunno, probably because EG was afraid of more things; ergo, more reliable. In her “top ten list of toxins” (sic), fluoride was listed.

  55. squirrelelite says:

    Not exactly on topic, but if she really wanted people to eat better, maybe she could advocate for folic acid supplementation, specifically corn masa products.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/health/womens-health/mystery-birth-defect-cluster-diet-blame-n135026

  56. Trevor Kayzer says:

    Dear Dr. Gorski,

    Real beer snobs here in beautiful British Columbia prefer their beer make without rice. Water, barley, hops and sugar are the only ingredients necessary. However additives for different tastes abound, such as our local spruce-tip ale, or coffee in darker beers.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204040918686046&set=p.10204040918686046&type=1&theater

    Can there be a gluten free wheat beer?

  57. Ok beer snob, run out and grab your self a six pack of “Batch 19″ by Coors brewing company. I swear, it’s one of the best beers on the planet although it’t from one of the worst beer companies in the world.

  58. Lance says:

    The irony here being – ALL beer contains the very well known toxin and carcinogen called ALCOHOL!! Which is no doubt much more important than all the other “chemicals” in beer.

  59. Andre says:

    Totally stole that liking from me.

  60. Jason Bell says:

    http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2014/06/16/Junk-Science-Babe-Goes-After-Beer

    I’m curious how you feel about your article, and Mark Crislip’s, being plagiarized on Breitbart.com and given a political spin (shocking, I know). Reading comments there, nobody seemed to catch it even though, bizarrely, the “author” linked to this piece in her introduction.

  61. reedonly says:

    This high school teacher in Australia has created these hilarious “ingredient” posters for “all natural” foods:
    http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/bananablueberryegg-ingredients-posters-pdfs/

    The banana one is particularly awesome and I immediately thought of the Food Boob:
    http://jameskennedymonash.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ingredients-of-a-banana-poster-4.pdf

    One of the “scary” ingredients is linoleic acid, one of the fatty acids present in fruits. A quick Wikipedia search reveals that linoleic acid has been used to make paints and varnishes, and – to use the Food Boob’s taxonomy – is “related” to the artifical floor covering linoleum. EWWWWWW! GROOOOOOSSSSSS!

  62. Beer Lover says:

    I don’t understand why we have to be so binary either/or in America. Yes, it’s great that finally we have some local alternatives like in Europe, and yes it’s great that the taste universe for beers has expanded. There was a gap there that is now being filled. Beer as an alternative to fancy wine in my preferred restaurant: I love the idea! But why this necessity to place my product up by downgrading other market options, which by mere definition of product type and customer target differ so much from each other? Praise your beers without throwing shit on the fan, because it’s the image of a product and of an industry we love and sooner or later it will throw shadows at you. Or do you see the guys from Lexus argumenting not to buy that shitty Corolla or Camry because it’s not the “real” driving experience? Or you don’t buy shoes at foot locker, because you don’t expect them to be as passionate about footwear like your Italian taylor from downtown Milano? You only buy carefully massaged Kobe Beef for your craft beer accompanied barbecue or does a normal Sirloin suffice?

  63. Joe in AA says:

    David, if you get a chance, please try Jolly Pumpkin artisan ales out in Ann Arbor and Dexter. They use open top fermentors (seriously old school technique but masterfully done) and are aged in oak barrels which give it a sour and astrigent flavors (in addition, the brewing process allows lactic and acetic acid bacteria to give it an extra sour punch). I love their beers yet most of my beer drinking do not like sour beers (alas).
    Also, a new brewery out in Ypsi called Unity Vibrations make absolutely delicious Kambucha beer and tea. Their ginger kambucha beer makes me drool thinking about it.

    Some side comments:
    Sierra Nevada is the epitome of what a microbrewery should be doing in terms of QA regarding the microbiology of yeast. A microbiolgy laboratory is often over looked by microbrewers, but they made it a #1 priority.

    Rice in beer? Hmmm. No thanks.

    Why hasn’t there been a mention of using dry wall material in making beer (aka gypsum, used to precipitate out proteins that cause haze). Or peat moss?Or inisglass (a type of marine fossil used for filtration?

    Big brewers are absolute asshats towards microbrewers. They use their size and money to abuse the 3 tiered system for beer distribution. They have been snatching up microbrewery too to further cram the warehouses, trucks and shelves with their products, leaving little room for a store to stock independent microbrews.

    Yeast poops out many biproducts in the fermentation, not just CO2 and ethanol. I can make the fermentation sound like a sewage treatment plant. Mmmm .

    Food Babe could have emphasized homebrewing if she wants her hubby to drink “all natural organic” beer.

    Microbreweries avoid GMOs like the plague. They know that a beer made with GMO barley, hops or yeast is DOA to costumers. Big brewers add corn syrup (GMO sourced cheap sugar) to bump up the ABV and then dilute it to make the final product. It reduces the size of the fermentation (essentially making a concentrate), costs and taste.

  64. Joe in AA says:

    Oops, I meant to say Diatomaceous Earth not ininglass.

  65. jurg bangerter says:

    Dr.PHD minor degree in chemistry and Monsanto adviser prof. Joe Schwarcz from McGill university sees in the anti-GMO and anti Monsanto stand of the Food Babe a big menace to his employeur Monsanto and has founded an anti Food Babe group in FB..I just told him to attack and denigrate Switzerland who has banned all GMO research and all MO products till 2017 in a Moratory based on a vote by the Swiss people…Switzerlands 8 million people count 67 Nobel Prizes and are Global Innovation leader if sommebody tries to say the Swiss are stupid..keep on the good work Food Babe..greetings from GMO Free Switzerland

    1. Sawyer says:

      Personally if I were working for Monsanto I’d be secretly happy about the Food Babe. Whether they are right or wrong, Monsanto is one of the few companies that doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass what the public perception of their company is, and I’d place the odds of them caving to any demands from Vani at 0.00%. I suspect some employees Monsanto are getting a kick out of watching other companies foolishly struggle and fail to keep up with her avalanche of nonsense.

      This is the ultimate irony of knee-jerk activism. If any businesses collapse because of the Food Babe, they will NOT be the evil, giant mega-conglomerates. They will be mid-sized companies that genuinely tried to make their customers happy. And of course she won’t lose a minute of sleep over the fact she made the problems she’s trying to solve much worse.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Monsanto strongly benefits from GMO activism – it raises entry barriers to a level such that no company that isn’t a multinational with a ton of lawyers can afford the rigmarole and hoop-jumping it takes to get a product to market. This means the only GMO crops that get out there are ones that benefit primarily Monsanto; Round-Up Ready crops that you can buy cheap, in order to support increased sales of Round-Up. Instead of focusing on drought-resistant crops, or self-fertilizing crops, or crops that retain nutrients or flavour, or contain vaccines, or, or, or, the only technology being developed are those that allow Monsanto to sell more seeds or more side-products.

        So the next time a white hippie with dreadlocks chants about GMOs, ask them how they feel about being a Monsanto shill.

    2. Chris says:

      “Switzerlands 8 million people count 67 Nobel Prizes and are Global Innovation leader if sommebody tries to say the Swiss are stupid..keep on the good work Food Babe..greetings from GMO Free Switzerland”

      Oh, really? Then how do you explain this:
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-swiss-report-on-homeopathy/

      And the issue with measles outbreaks:
      http://www.stopmeasles.ch/en-us/disease/facts-figures-measles-switzerland.html

      Just because some people are smart, that doesn’t mean politicians and their voters are intelligent.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Don’t forget the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, signed by 698 engineers, doctors and computer scientists, and two misquoted biologists. There are lots of non-climate scientists who claim climate change isn’t happening. It’s sometimes easy to get non-experts to sign pleasant-sounding deceptive PR-release material, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Go to the data – what data supports GMO being dangerous? Two shitty rat studies and a guy eyeballing pig stomachs.

    3. Harriet Hall says:

      I know Dr. Schwarcz is employed by McGill University. I don’t know that he is employed by Monsanto. How do you know that? And what has he ever said about GMO that is not solidly founded on the published evidence?

    4. Chris says:

      Plus the politicians in your country are even acting against the accomplishments of Swiss scientists:
      http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/science_technology/A_clear_case_for_golden_rice.html?cid=38385468

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice

      Funny how politicians in a wealthy European country can deny a product specifically designed to help the poor elsewhere.

    5. Woo Fighter says:

      Mr. Jurg certainly has an axe to grind and is obsessed with Dr. Joe. Is he an angry homeopath or naturopath or chiropractor, perhaps?

      He posted this on the Food Babe’s blog a couple of days ago:

      dr quack Joe Schwarcz is paid by Monsanto and Johnsonand Johnson

      Dr. Joe Schwarcz of Montreal’s McGill University is a well-known media “popularizer of science,” and clearly on someone’s payroll.

      Whose: A consortium of biotechnology companies, including Monsanto (see funding information below).

      In That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles, Dr. Schwarcz writes that aspartame is perfectly safe to consume – a verdict contradicted by scores of independent studies, one that only the insane could endorse.

      Frightening to consider that Dr. Schwarcz – a paid public diplomat for Monsanto – “interprets science” for the public.

      Dr. Schwarzc has stalked and libelled anti-aspartame activists, smeared GM opponent/canola farmer Percy Schmeiser (see below). He has even harassed me, on occasion. Once, when my name was mentioned on his radio show, he screamed. Maybe he was off his Xanax …

      Dr. Joe Schwarcz – A 21st century Mr. Wizard – is making his fans sick.

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        I’m waiting for him to explain how he knows that Dr. Joe is employed by Monsanto, and what Dr. Joe has ever said about GMOs that is not supported by the published evidence.

        1. Woo Fighter says:

          Well, of course the published evidence will support what Dr. Joe has to say: don’t you know they’re ALL IN IT TOGETHER?!! Wake up, Dr. Hall (you sheeple): Monsanto (and now apparently J&J too), chemtrails, the illuminati, fluoride, Obama, liberals, Bill Gates, 9/11, the Jews and the media are all responsible and conspiring to hide THE TRUTH from us!!!!!!

          By the way, in Jurg’s post on The Food Babe’s blog, the promised “funding information below” proving Dr. Joe was being paid by “a consortium of biotechnology companies” was, of course, not provided. Because it only exists in the dark, twisted corners of Mr. Jurg’s imagination.

    6. MadisonMD says:

      Moratory based on a vote by the Swiss people…Switzerlands 8 million people count 67 Nobel Prizes

      I wonder how the 67 Nobel laureates voted. Here are some hints:

      (1) The Swiss Academy of Sciences supports use of GMO. Here is the fact sheet.

      (2) Many Nobel Laureates support use of GMO.
      Paul Nurse: the campaign against GMO is “irresponsible.”
      Richard Roberts: Anti-GMO protests by European Green party are a “crime against humanity.”
      Gunter Blobel and Sharp: “If ever there was a clear-cut cause for outrage, it is the concerted campaign by Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as by individuals, against [genetically modified] Golden Rice.”

      Could it be that the average Swiss voter is dumber than the 67 Swiss Nobel Laureates? Could it be that the average Swiss voter knows less about GMOs than members of the Swiss Academy of Sciences? Could it be that the average Swiss voter is more easily swayed by fearmongering? Uh, hell yeah.

      … and that’s why Jurg’s comment is fundamentally as dumb as his position on GMOs. He’d apparently rather eat plants derived from pollen that is irradiated with scattershot random mutations throughout the genome (not considered GMO, in wide use for crop technology since Stadler’s discovery in 1936.). Why in the name of bejesus does he consider that safe, yet precision genome edits of a known single gene is considered frightening?

      1. Windriven says:

        Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.
        – Heraclitus ~500 BCE

  66. Earthman says:

    Guinness is British? Shock horror! Irish I think you mean.

    1. Windriven says:

      ” Irish I think you mean.”

      Nope. British. Diageo. Guinness was acquired in 1997 and now the feckin’ Brits own it.

  67. Don says:

    Very convincing takedown of the Food Babe idiot. But as others have noted, Guinness is not a cask-conditioned real ale. The writer should fix this glaring error, because it undermines an otherwise good piece.

  68. Rick Summerson says:

    I totally enjoyed your article and would have normally agreed with the totality of your message, but you mentioned you could actually drink PBR. At that point I realized you couldn’t possibly know what you are talking about.

  69. Getheren says:

    n Germany, Propylene Glycol Alginate is listed as an ingredient on this bottle of Corona as “E405 Alginat” (the European food additive number for Propylene Glycol is E405), and you will also find it on this ingredient list on Sinebrychoff’s website in Finland.

    In general, the EU is considerably more aggressive than the US about establishing the safety of food ingredients, and has lower thresholds of tolerance for dubious safety profiles. If a given substance has an E-number and is permitted in food manufacture in the EU, I am generally prepared to accept — unless specific evidence to the contrary is on offer — that its safety profile has been closely examined and has passed muster by the standards of people far more competent than I to judge it.

    Then again, I have a working knowledge of chemistry and science in general, functioning critical-thinking apparatus, and a general lack of axes to grind — or at least a disinclination to subordinate truth and reason to those axes I do have to grind. The Food Babe, on the other hand … well, in the immortal words of Noam Chomsky, “I won’t spell it out.”

    And call it cynical and a cheap shot if you like, but I wouldn’t bet the rent on her ability to correctly expand the initialism “EU” and name ten nations that are members of it without consulting Wikipedia. Assuming she would bother to — she routinely fails to check facts much more directly relevant to what I will charitably describe as her “arguments”, if I may be forgiven for so demeaning the term.

  70. Christian says:

    Why not fight fire with fire? Write a petition to mainstream media outlets demanding that they stop covering Food Babe. Cite how her science has been discredited by multiple experts and that she is misinforming the public. Maybe even include that all signatories will boycott said media outlet if they ever cover Food Babe again. Just an idea.

  71. Dan says:

    Great article. It’s about time the intelligent people start debunking the misconceptions of the ill-advised.

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