Old garbage from the Food Babbler on chocolate resurfaces just in time for Halloween

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Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 1.51.04 PMWe have taken Vani Hari, aka, The Food Babe to task before, and none too gently. In particular, ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom s Science 2.0 piece entitled The Food Babe Hath Spoken and Subway Bread Will Still Suck castigated Ms. Hari for her erudite advice on which food ingredients to avoid: Ones that she can t spell. As fine an example of the scientific method as you ll ever see.

Well, an old gem of hers has been flying around, probably because of Halloween, and it s gone viral again. According to Dr. Bloom, She is no closer to Mensa membership than she was before. Maybe even further, although I doubt that even the NSA computers have the capacity to properly assess this.

Ironically, in her 2012 piece, Are You Getting Conned By Cheap & Toxic Chocolate? she actually gets a few things right (!) but for the wrong reasons. Shall we take a look?

  • Hari: What is Godiva doing that makes these chocolates so much more expensive than other brands of chocolate? ... It must have real vanilla? No! They actually use artificial vanilla made from a wood by-product!
  • JB: Time for a little chemistry lesson. As I ve said many times before, the way something is made is completely irrelevant. The principal flavor in vanilla is a chemical called vanillin. Whether is it obtained from vanilla beans, wood, or gym socks makes not one bit of difference.

Here are the chemical structures of vanillin obtained from vanilla beans and wood, respectively: (Notice any similarity?)

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 1.14.36 PM

  • JB: Yes- they are THE SAME. In every possible way. Your body cannot tell them apart. No instrument can tell them apart. Perpetuating the fallacy that the source of any given chemical has any relevance whatsoever to the actual composition of that chemical is manipulative (intentionally so), but also effective. (Note: there may be a difference in flavor between vanilla bean extract and pure vanillin, since the former contains other chemicals that enhance its flavor. But there is no difference in safety. Both contain the same vanillin.)
  • Hari: Chocolate can provide a daily dose of much needed antioxidants
  • JB: The antioxidant theory seems to be getting less credible with every study. And if, by some miracle, there is anything to it, eating a bunch of chocolate will work in making you fat.
  • Hari: [O]r it can be a chemistry experiment full of man-made artificial ingredients. I do not like supporting brands that try to trick me into buying questionable ingredients.
  • JB: I suspect it takes very little to trick her.
  • Hari: But we do know that the consumption of GMO foods poses a serious threat to our health and has been linked to toxicity, cancer, allergic reactions and fertility issues.
  • JB: Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Aside from that it s perfectly accurate. (See ACSH s publications on agricultural biotechnology here).
  • Hari: And even the sugar that chocolate contains can be from genetically modified sugar beets!
  • JB: Let me reiterate: The sugar (sucrose) from sugar cane, GM beets, or Kryptonite although this technology isn t quite there yet is sugar. There is NO difference. None.
  • Hari: When buying any chocolate (or anything in general), remember to read the label just to make sure all ingredients are listed organic or Non-GMO Project verified to avoid GMO s.
  • JB: A damn fine idea if you want to spend more money to get something that is no different than the [item] sitting next to it on the shelf for half the price.

Dr. Bloom wonders, Is Hari dumb, or dumb like a fox? Who knows? Although the same cannot be said from those who follow her advice. But who can blame them? After all, she is very good looking, which apparently trumps knowledge in the Bizzaro World in which we reside.