Food Babe Speaks at University, Professor Undoes Damage (Update)

Food Babe Spoke at University, Professor Undos Damage

Food Babe Spoke at University, Professor Undos Damage
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the correct fee paid to Ms. Hari, aka Food Babe. She was paid $6,000, not $16,000 as previously stated. Guardian Liberty Voice sincerely apologizes for the error.

The world may be coming closer to an end when The University of Florida paid Vani Hari, aka Food Babe, to speak on its campus as part of the “The Good Food Revolution” last Monday, October 21. Why would a prestigious university — home of the Gators — hire a self-proclaimed food “expert” to give students “a clear plan of action for making positive food choices” instead of more qualified professionals, such as one of their food science professors? The $6,000 fee that Food Babe received to speak is quite a hefty amount to spread false information. This prompted Dr. Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department, to write his thoughts about the event on his blog. After Food Babe spoke at the university, Professor Folta may have a somewhat challenging task of undoing the damage.

“The problem is that giving non-experts a forum to spread outright lies and bad information just pollutes the discussion.  There are important issues in farming, diet and food science,” explained Dr. Folta in an online interview with Guardian Liberty Voice. “We need to acknowledge them, and get students excited about participating in solutions. Hari’s tactics are to use social media as a means to essentially blackmail corporations into changes she mandates, not based on science.”

Folta’s blog highlights some of the claims Hari made, such as GMO labeling in other countries, transgenic crops linking to cancer and autism, and the increase use of pesticides in crops. “She coordinates elaborate smear campaigns against companies that [she feels] use ingredients that should not be used. Teaching students that achieving your goals by harming the reputations of others is something that should not be tolerated, let alone endorsed as part of an ‘expert’ series.”

It is no surprise that about half of the students who attended the speech walked out, which was something Folta and other students had observed. “I was gauging the reaction from the room.  There was no reaction to statements she was making,” Folta described. “Students were not applauding or filling the gaps she’d leave for applause.  As someone with a long public speaking history, I know how to ‘work’ a room, and clearly she was trying to do the same but to no avail.  It was like watching a stand-up comedian tell jokes, and nobody was laughing.”

While there are currently no videos online that showed Food Babe speaking at the university or people leaving while she spoke, Folta recorded some of Hari’s speech and took a few pictures with his smartphone, hoping these would undo some of the damage. “Several students did write to me afterwards after reading my blog post on the subject,” Folta said. “They clearly felt that they were witness to an unqualified speaker with a personal agenda superseding what should have been critical scientific discourse.  I have their permission to share these on a blog I’m preparing for this week.”

Hari claimed on her Food Babe Facebook page that she did stay after her speech for Q&A, however, neither Folta nor other students who stayed through the event said that she did so. “I was hoping she’d answer questions in front of the audience, but the event ended and everyone left,” Folta explained. “She stuck around to take photos and meet with a dozen students or so up at the stage.  This is what she considers a question and answer period.  It is way for her to control perception, as with one question I would have made her look bad publicly in front of an auditorium of students.”

Chow Babe, a social media entity that parodies and points out Food Babe’s logical fallacies of her claims, posted about her “Q&A” last week, “Did you know that Big Shill, Inc. paid half the students to attend the lecture and then to walk out, just to make Vain Hair look bad?” Several people countered Food Babe’s claim that she did stay for Q&A. It is not known whether these people were university students or not since Food Babe has a tendency to delete “negative” or critical comments from the page.


Food Babe Spoke at University, Professor Undos Damage
Since Food Babe has a tendency to delete negative or critical comments, Chow Babe captures the contradiction of what really happened.

This “shill” is a running gag that has been going on for over a month since Food Babe was on the cover of Experience Life Magazine when the magazine claimed that negative comments on its Facebook page were made by those who were “designed to appear as though it is coming from individual consumers, but that is motivated and subsidized by a behind-the-scenes special interest.”

“[Q&A] is an important time to interact with the audience.  If someone hides from Q&A it is because they are hiding something,” Folta remarked. “She knows she can’t go to a university with hundreds of world-class scientists on staff, spread blatant falsehoods, and then not be held accountable by faculty in attendance. Student welfare is ‘Job Number One.’  We’re all happy with students hearing independent viewpoints, but they need to be from experts that use science and evidence to frame their arguments. It can’t be information from a self-appointed expert with no training and no clue about how science works.”

Food Babe Spoke at University, Professor Undos Damage

So why is this topic and awareness important for the public and future professionals who are involved with food science? Folta answered, “Food is a critical issue. In the industrialized world we have plenty of calories and plenty of choices. There is an emerging elitist movement of affluent boutique-food consumers that are expanding their markets by deliberately chastising other products that don’t fit their liking. Products made by big companies or produced from products using modern technology are targeted for contempt. The use of perfectly safe food additives or preservatives is also frowned upon.  They can afford alternatives.”

“There is an interest in motivating others to reject these foods also,” Folta added. “Instead of using scientific reasons to persuade people to alternatives, they use fear. Hari is a perfect example. Her statements about azodicarbonamide and GMOs were completely inconsistent with science. Worse, in my opinion, she worded her statements carefully so she could change gears if she was questioned.”

While it may take some time for Professor Folta and his colleagues to undo the damage after Food Babe spoke at The University of Florida, education that encourages reason and critical thinking may be the right tools to combat false information. “Right now we are in a time of food abundance,” Folta continued. “We have never had a more safe or plentiful food supply in human history.  It is shameful that celebrity food critics vilify good food because they believe there is something inferior about it. Most people on this planet will go to sleep hungry tonight and would be grateful for a piece of Hari’s Yoga Mat Bread.”

Opinion by Nick Ng


Dean of Students’ Office, University of Florida
Chow Babe
Experience Life

85 thoughts on “Food Babe Speaks at University, Professor Undoes Damage (Update)

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  5. Hello.This article was really fascinating, especially because I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Wednesday.

    1. GMOs are useless, unneeded, unnecessary, unregulated, unwarranted and unwanted. Folta is a pawn for big Ag and Monsanto’s propaganda.

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  7. This is the most ridiculous article EVER! You GMO lovers ate too much GMO food or something. Seems as if you are desperate to find BS on people going against your program… So desperate that you attack on a question & answer thing. SAY WHAT???? I mean one can not stop himself but to ask: is he paid to do that??? Because wow!!! That is just funny! and sad 🙁

  8. She’s not open to being corrected. Her page bans people for trying to do exactly that.

  9. “Folta’s blog highlights some of the claims Hari made, such as GMO labeling in other countries, transgenic crops linking to cancer and autism, and the increase use of pesticides in crops.”

    Look at ALL the science. BE SCIENTIFIC. Is she RIGHT or WRONG? If she is correct, look closely at your program and what you teach. If she is wrong, correct her. Just don’t cherry pick your science.

  10. Now, I wonder if the writer of this article is paid by the food manufacturing and processing companies. This is a smearing campaign against Vani. The so called “boutique-food consumers” are in general intelligent and they do care about how food is processed and what kind of additives are used. It is a fact that many food additives and chemicals that we use in food in the States are banned in Canada and Europe. People here have the right to know what is banned and why it is banned.
    This is a campaign against food babe by some food ‘Corporate Bullies’ and some people are falling for it. I am also disturbed by seeing some racist comments.

    1. Yaaaaaa THAT’S IT!!! If they disagree with Fraud Babe… THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY BEING PAID OFF!!!

    2. Pointing out that this woman has no scientific background and has no idea what she is talking about when it comes to chemistry, biochemistry and food science isn’t “smearing” her. It is called “critically evaluating” her statements. I’m not affiliated with any company and I’m not bullying anyone. I, along with most of the people on this comment thread are simply pointing out that “The Food Babe” is ignorant on the topic she pretends to know so much about.

    3. This is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. More people think this woman is dangerous than you think. She draws in people who are too lazy or too misguided to do any research of their own. MANY of her “facts” can be refuted with an easy search. She is doing nothing but advancing her OWN agenda and making herself rich. There is no smear campaign when everything being said against her is a FACT.

  11. “Why would a prestigious university — home of the Gators…” I think you answered your own question.

  12. Just like we use drones in war to attack less developed regions of the world like Afghanistan, aliens will certainly not visit us and engage in hand-to-hand combat.

    What does this have to do with Food Babe?

    The Food Babe is an alien. She was sent here to make dumb people dumber and ultimately breed out the human race. Similarly, she makes intelligent people furious and they will all die from aneurysms or heart attacks. Stop Food Babe now. Don’t let the aliens win.

  13. Universities do indeed need to qualify their speakers, not just hire whoever happens to be currently popularity. That said, I read through this article hoping to learn what exactly or generally her criticisms are but only found references here in the Comments section (to GMOs). I’m not interested enough to commit time to further research.

    1. “Universities do indeed need to qualify their speakers, not just hire whoever happens to be currently popularity.”

      Gregory Baskin: You are absolutely right. So far, we don’t know (Folta and I) yet why UF hired Hari to speak, however, I think the food sciences department and the university may be rectifying the situation with an upcoming event. More details soon.

      “That said, I read through this article hoping to learn what exactly or generally her criticisms are but only found references here in the Comments section (to GMOs).”

      Most of the time, you may not get much out of reading comments in most media sources. However, some science literature relating to horticulture, nutritional sciences, and biochemistry may yield some answers or raise more questions.

      “I’m not interested enough to commit time to further research.” Understandable. Some of us may have more pressing things to do. 🙂

    2. The obvious answer would be: to avoid foodbabe’s nonsense from spreading here too.
      The biggest problem with trying to root out these kinds of lies and half-truths is that you have to repeat them, then explain why they’re lies, what was omitted, etc… People who only read the first part (TL;DR) wil only remember the lie, and even if they’ve read the whole thing, they’re still likely to only remember the lie-part and not the much longer and sadly often more boring explanation of what was wrong with the statement. This is why they perpetuate so easily and so widely.

      This is also why ignoring them often works much better than trying (and spending lots more time and words) to counter every falshood every time. I.e. a lie is already half way around the world by the time the truth has put on it’s shoes to give chase …

      My guess is, if you’re interested in the details, go read Dr. Folta’s blog.

  14. Food babe screens all posts to her website so only her blind followers are allowed to comment. She has absolutely not scientific background and sources wacko websites for her twisted information.

  15. Genetically modified crops have been research for 30 years and used for 20 and have a rock solid safety record. Trying to lay blame for poor lifestyle choices and pollution on these crops is idiotic. Any real scientist understands the safety, yet uneducated bloggers love to bring sensationalism and lies to the debate. This is no way to educate the American consumer. Shame on you Food Babe and Dr. Wizard of Oz, as you try to shove you own green slime drink at us for money. I trust REAL health professionals and Agronomists with what is safe and good to eat. It all comes down to common sense and moderation.

  16. Food Babe is an uneducated idiot that bring a bit of Jerry Springer sensationalism to entertain, but never really educate. how sad she is

  17. I do think GMOs are bad and should be labeled. People should have the right to choose and support local farmers not using an industrial ingredient that is proving over and over again to be a giant failure

  18. OK, so Dr Folta is not a registered dietitian. But he is a PhD in a Food related discipline. But neither is your self described “IT” expert that you and her other FoodFraudArmy want to protect. Again I’m also a professional in the food industry and I’m really tired of your conspiracy theories that we are out to poison and make “sick” the very consumers we rely on for sales and profits. If you just spent 1 minute listening to yourselves you would see how silly you sound! Stick to what you know, and when you do research listen only to those who have credentials to speak to the topic at hand.

  19. You didn’t point out one thing that she said that was Incorrect. At least she is trying to do something about our food problems. If you are going to criticize them you also should be basing it off of facts instead of your opinion. Tell us where the holes are so we can learn what she said that was incorrect.

  20. If Folta is not a registered dietician and has no right to speak on the topic, neither does Vani Hari.

    1. Dr. Folta is the flipping CHAIRMAN of the Horticultural Sciences department at the University of Florida. I think he’s more than competent to discuss the science behind genetically modified crops and other issues relating to food science.

    2. You can obtain a RD with a bachelors degree. Dr. Folta has a PhD. Hmmmm…. i wonder which person would be more qualified and have more experience. Now go sit in the corner with your dunce hat on.

    3. Vani Hari has no right to speak on the topic because she doesn’t use logic, evidence or reason in any argument she presents. Dr. Folta, in contrast, uses these 3 magical ingredients in all of his work as a properly trained scientist. Further, one of these two embraces dialog and dissenting opinions. Guess which one bans you if you even write the word “science” in her feed. Thus, he is qualified and she is not. QED

  21. I know many people that believed this nonsense, then educated themselves and also look at the original sources of information these frauds damn right lie about and see they are insane. Educate yourself in nutritional science and bio-chemistry and your see how ridiculous it is, until then an individual really isn’t in a position to add anything which can be of value.

    There is no conspiracy, with multiple hundreds of thousands university graduates, PHd’s and, Professors all “turning evil post graduation” give me a break.

    The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias manifesting in two principal ways: unskilled individuals tend to suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate, while highly skilled individuals tend to rate their ability lower than is accurate.

    Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

    -fail to recognize their own lack of skill;
    -fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
    -fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
    -recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

  22. Dr. Kevin Folta is the chairman and professor the Horticultural Sciences Department at UF. He may not be a registered dietitian, but how is this issue of false food science information made by Hari none of his business? Are any of his statements false? How valid and sound are his arguments?

    Your statement also implies that other food and nutrition researchers and professors in other universities and colleges also have “no business weighing in on this topic.”

  23. I applaud Dr. Folta 1000 times over. Not only is journalism dead in this country, so is science. Food Babe has found the magical intersection between the two while being an expert at neither. That said, we need to focus on efforts to take her down. Those could be legal, legislative or from brute force of social media and the #shillarmy. This simply has to stop and stop now. Stop complaining and take action with me!

  24. Just reading some of the lies about modified crops, “like infused with herbicide” says just how stupid some of the posters are on this topic. Wow, my hope if real scientists make the decisions for labeling vs. not labeling. This decision should be left to people that understand it, not some Jerry Springer wannabe like Foodbabe or Dr. Wizard of OZ.

  25. Food babe is a computer programmer that brings sensationalism and no science to the food debate. She deletes any comments that are science based that contradict her message. I believe she also has a group blog posters that post complimentary comments about her, so if a person reads the comments feels everyone is in agreement with her. What a fake and a disservice to American families trying to make good choices. I’ll trust my heath questions to the professionals, and her can drown in her own lies.

  26. Good on Folta! If only the university hadn’t hired this pretender in the first place – if you have scientists at your disposal, why use the unqualified?

  27. Too many people discredit anecdotal evidence. Vani shares her story of what happened to her health once she eliminated all the junk from her diet and the changes were clearly life changing. Robyn O’Brien did the same thing, except the motivation came from one of her children having a life threatening allergic reaction. There are hundreds of thousands of stories like theirs, and that is why we are seeing people slowly make adjustments to their food purchases. When I see someone take out the junk (junk being GMOs and pesticides and additives) and choose nutritious whole foods and they get healthy from that one dedicated change – I’d pay attention to what they are doing and follow suit. It’s not rocket science, we don’t need scientists to PROVE every little thing in our lives. I think Vani should have considered the school before taking the speaking gig as it seems it was almost a set up for bad press.

    1. To date there have been exactly 0 documented cases of harm coming from consuming any of the currently available varieties of GMO food. There are a couple thousands studies that support this conclusion.

      Shall we throw out science and just let health matters be decided by bloggers? I’m in the “no” camp.

      1. I don’t think anyone is discrediting anyone’s lack of knowledge; however, if avoiding certain foods and/or chemicals in your diet benefits your health and makes you feel better, who are we to judge? I think Food Babe is a wackjob trying to make an easy buck (which she certainly has) with scare tactics and I feel bad for the people who follow her every word. But again, if doing something improves ones health – go for it!
        As for 0 documented cases of harm coming from GMO’s, it is still too early too tell. It could be years before these “cases” come to light. And, call me what you will, our government has a heavy hand in everything we do, eat, say, think – and this is no exception.
        I try to eat health, avoid chemicals, and treat my body right, but I certainly am not controlled by it.

  28. I am just glad Folta was never one of my professors. I would demand my money back. Arrogant educators like him are the worst. Also UF is not a top school, never has been, never will be.

    1. Why thank you “Paleo 4 Life” for your, obviously, superior scientific rebuttal. Clearly your commitment to science and your education in said subject is motivating your response here and clearly not because your google PHD worldview is being challenged. (You could have just posted your username. That would have been enough).

      1. BTW, I had to take f&*k out of my previous post (so it would post) and hopefully that makes more sense now.

        Also, I love lemmings. I particularly like watching them run off the cliff. Go #foodbabearmy Go kill more elderly and kids by not taking flu shots. Go spew more anti-science venom. Go stare in the mirror more and self-love you narcissist.

        1. Dr. Army,
          As a science-lover and lemming lover, surely you are aware there is no scientific evidence of lemmings running off of cliffs.

    2. Too bad, you might have actually learned something instead of being the personification of human ignorance and arrogance.

  29. You (Nick Ng) can’t edit a post on a website? If you can’t edit it yourself you send an email to the admin so that person can. You shouldn’t even be making articles unless you know how to proof read or have an editor that can do it for you.The fact that GMO’s are infused with herbicide before being planted (via genetic modification) is public information so that can’t be bad right? Why would McDonalds be planning to switch to organics instead of just adding new items to their menu? GMO labeling is coming. Self taught people can be professionals, people who aren’t independent need to be taught. I guess the internet needs to be shut down because it contains no true information in it to learn on your own. This article for instance. Maybe you should ask farmers what they think about monsanto’s seeds and the monopoly they have on the market. You write for a (Liberty) branded site yet this looks like a corporate hit piece.

    1. “You (Nick Ng) can’t edit a post on a website? If you can’t edit it yourself you send an email to the admin so that person can.”

      I already did it more than 12 hours ago.

      “You shouldn’t even be making articles unless you know how to proof read or have an editor that can do it for you”

      Thanks for telling me how to do my work.

      “The fact that GMO’s are infused with herbicide before being planted (via genetic modification) is public information so that can’t be bad right? Why would McDonalds be planning to switch to organics instead of just adding new items to their menu? GMO labeling is coming. Self taught people can be professionals, people who aren’t independent need to be taught. I guess the internet needs to be shut down because it contains no true information in it to learn on your own. This article for instance. Maybe you should ask farmers what they think about monsanto’s seeds and the monopoly they have on the market.”

      Red herring fallacy: You present a topic that does not follow the article’s content or your previous statements.

      “You write for a (Liberty) branded site yet this looks like a corporate hit piece.”

      I’m still waiting for my shill check by Big Shill, Inc. You are, indeed, psychic to think that this “looks like a corporate hit piece.”

      1. Nick don’t worry about these people, they wouldn’t know critical thinking if it bit them you know where.

        To the rest of you, if you want to prove, or even be taken seriously in your claim that these techniques (transgenic manipulation) or substances (from what I see any chemical name with more than two syllables) you need to present evidence. As in you need peer reviewed studies that counter the thousands upon thousands in favor of these technologies.

        See that’s how science works, if you make a claim you need to prove it. If you can’t it’s not because theirs a conspiracy it’s either because:

        A) you’re to dumb to do science, that’s okay the world needs stock brokers too.


        B) what you’re claiming just isn’t true, and the fact that science disagrees with you means your wrong, and need to accept that until/unless new evidence comes to light.

        It’s really not that difficult a concept to grasp.

  30. It’s about time corporations responsible for all their GMO laced junk foods be held accountable.

  31. Food Babe is a total fear monger! The FDA…..I mean Monsanto genetically modifies your food because they want to eradicate the planet of the human virus so just eat your McDonalds and do not listen to her filthy lies. I bet she thinks hundreds of chemicals added to our drinking water is unheathy too. The eugenicists put it there to give you stronger and healthy teeth so quit asking questions and listen to the professor.

  32. This article is a total hit piece on THE food babe, most likely funded by Monsanto who also pressures companies such as Schlafly Micro brewery to fire employees who criticize GMO.

  33. After that talk, i bet you most thought, “God, i wish i had those 2 hours of my life back”!

  34. It is EASY to change the article. You put in an editors note (with these parenthesis thingies). For example “The food babe was paid $6000 (ED: originally misprinted as $16,000. We apologize for the error, error corrected October 26, 2014)). ” This isn’t print media where the edit may happen the day on an entirely different piece of paper, . Note, I am still putting in the original information, but still including the updated information within the article. A correction in the comment section is not appropriate, as it is not considered part of the article published b you, and you are not considered responsible for the comments made by third partied. Besides, I could make my own name Nick NG.

  35. There used to be a time where universities were institutions of higher learning…no more. Now they are nothing more than left-wing and woo propaganda machines. UNLV has been in major financial troubles for decades and next semester they are forcing students to pay more for tuition but they somehow mustered up $250K to pay Hillary Clinton to come speak. Now it looks like the University of Florida is almost equally stupid to pay some wannabe quack to come speak. Pathetic.

    1. Sorry took but there is nothing “quack” or untrue or unfactual about what she said. It just happens to not be the propaganda you want to hear. She is of course being slandered by the US controlled media because they are bought out by the US Agribusiness mafia..

      1. Well Mark, I was the professor present at her talk. I would gladly tell you the outright falsehoods she threw at our students. Anything I say on the matter is backed by science and evidence, published from legit sources.

        So where to start? I recorded most of her talk and can go through line by line once she got out of the first 30 min of ‘how I became a food babe’ and started bragging on her accomplishments.

        I wanted to leave this alone at this point, but I’m glad to clarify further. kf

  36. Did you question the office of the Dean as to why they would have her speak in the first place? Did anyone at the Univedity do there homework? I wrote a letter to both the Dean and the Head if the Food Science Department with no response yet.

    1. Hi Tracy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to over the weekend. It would be something I would be interested to hear out. So far, we don’t know what made the department or the dean to bring Food Babe to speak.

  37. Correction: Dr. Folta stated that UF paid Hari $6,000, not $16,000. We apologize for the error.

    1. Shouldn’t the article be updated to say $6,000 as well? Currently it still says $16,000.

      1. Hi Spencer. Once the article is published, it cannot be changed. The best way right now to correct the error is by putting it in the comments section.

        1. If you are going to stand against spreading misinformation perhaps it would be best to make sure your article follows suit. It is a text based article on the internet I see no reason why it cannot be changed.

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