Did you know you are eating yoga mat ingredients in your fast food sandwich or Silly Putty in your French fries? You should.
Once or twice in a generation a brave citizen or scientist stands up to the status quo, tells the truth about what most of us would rather ignore. It changes everything about how we see the world, about the choices we make and how we live our lives.
And sometimes it changes the world. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Vani Hari, the Food Babe, has single-handedly, with her computer, blog, and very clear voice brought food companies into real conversations and forced them to change their products. In her new book, The Food Babe Way, she pulls back the veil on what we are really eating. And it will (or should) terrify you.
Rachel Carson first alerted Americans to the dangers of pesticides and chemicals in our environment and helped launch the environmental movement. Linus Pauling, at great risk to his career, spoke about the dangers of war and nuclear radiation, and this lead to the nuclear test ban treaty.
And there are thousands of other souls in far corners of the world who are inspired to tell the truth at risk to themselves and their families. Most of them are unsung heroes who quietly stand up for what is right, and we are all better for it.
Vani Hari is a modern-day David, facing the Goliath of the trillion-dollar food industry that in the guise of fun, colorful, hyper-tasty, easy to eat, convenient foods is creating suffering and sickness across the globe.
Most of us are completely oblivious to what we are eating and its impact on our health and our world. We know little about how our food is grown; how our seeds are engineered; how our farming methods harm the soil, air, and water, and contribute to climate change and dead zones in our oceans.
We are mostly unaware of the chemicals that are added to our foods; how the hormones, antibiotics, plastics, and toxins we eat in our everyday foods harm our bodies. How could we know that we are eating Silly Putty in our French fries and Yoga Mat softeners in our bread; or cancer-causing preservatives such as BHA and BHT, which have been banned in every other country but ours; or that dyes and coloring agents in our macaroni and cheese cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in our children; or that natural flavorings are made from ground-up animal parts; or that common foods contain secretions from beaver’s anal glands?
How could we know that apart from the calories we eat, many of the chemicals in our food are obesogens, contributing to an obesity epidemic that is weighing down our nation and increasingly the world as we create the worst diet on the planet and export it to every other nation except Cuba and North Korea? How could we know that most of the 10,000 additives in our food supply have never been proven safe and are given a free pass by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
There are thousands of health revolutionaries working to change our food system. I consider myself one of them. But very few of us have figured out how to speak truth to power and slay Goliath, the food industry, or even make his knees buckle. The beauty and genius of the Food Babe is not simply that she rails against our toxic food system, or educates us about the dangers of industrial food in general.
She goes after the Achilles heel, the one missing scale on the dragon, and shoots an arrow so true and straight, so deadly that it takes down food giants who otherwise merely laugh at critics, who ignore most of us calling for a change to the food system.
Instead, the CEO and executives of Chipotle, Starbucks, Subway, and even Kraft invite her into their inner sanctum and take her advice on how to stop the lying, deception, and poisoning of our citizens. They fear her Food Babe Army, the millions of citizen activists who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
But Vani Hari doesn’t just leave us angry, or save us from azodicarbonamide (the yoga mat ingredient) in Subway sandwiches. No, she goes deep into every aspect of our food system and through tireless, fearless, and stunning detective work uncovers nearly every toxin in our food system. She invites us to take a real look at our food, to read labels like an expert.
She has uncovered all the dangerous ingredients in our food and teaches us how to avoid the growth hormones in meat, antibiotics, pesticides, refined and enriched flour, bisphenol A (BPA), high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, artificial and natural flavors, food dyes, dough conditioners, carrageenan, monosodium glutamate (MSG), heavy metals and neurotoxins, and more.
But Vani doesn’t just teach us what to avoid. She doesn’t leave us hopeless. She has vigorously investigated what we can eat, what products and foods give health and life rather than take it away. Her detective skills have uncovered an extraordinary, chemical-free, real-food way of eating that makes sense for everyone.
It is the seed of a profound revolution, the type that Congressman Tim Ryan speaks of in The Real Food Revolution, a revolution that gets to the root of how our food system destroys our human and natural capital, our health, and our environment.
I am an advocate for a new form of medicine, Functional Medicine, which addresses the root cause of disease; sees the body as an ecosystem, not a collection of parts; and treats the organism, not just organs, the system, not just the symptoms. One of the fundamental tools of healing is food. If food were just calories, it wouldn’t matter where it came from; as long as it had enough energy to sustain us and tasted good it would be fine.
But the science of nutrition has uncovered a radical new way of looking at food. Food is not just energy. Food is information. It contains instructions that communicate messages to your genes, hormones, immune system, gut flora, in fact to every system of your body. This changes everything we know about food.
Health results from the quality of information we put in our bodies. And Vani’s “sickening 15” and other hidden ingredients and modified food products that make up most of our diet are disease-causing information.
If everyone followed the Food Babe’s 21-day plan, the food system as we know it would crumble, and a new era of innovation and creativity would take root. Antiquated industries and food systems would fall apart and new transformative food systems would arise. Not only would we all be healthier, but we would reverse the epidemic of chronic disease and obesity globally crippling our citizens, economies, and environment.
And all that begins with one simple question that the Food Babe inspires us to ask, that she has fearlessly asked over and over.
What is in our food?
Is it food? Is it good for us or bad for us? If it is not food, we probably shouldn’t eat it. If it is food, we should eat it. That is the guiding principle of the Food Baby Way, a way to live that will lead us into a new era of health that will change the world one fork at a time, one bite at a time, one kitchen at a time, one person at a time. Read this book and you will never think about food, your health, or the world in the same way again. And we will all be better off for it.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD.