As anticipated, Food Babe’s book made it to the NY Times best selling list. This should not be a surprise, as most pseudo-scientific books by famous authors end up on that list: Deepak Chopra, Dr Oz, Fritjof Capra, Gary Zukav, Mark Hyman, and Andrew Weil are just a few examples. What is common among these best-selling authors is their exploitation of the ignorance of the public on scientific matters and its insatiable appetite for new fads in food, health, spiritual well being, and (false) promise of success.
These pseudoscientists habitually mention scientific theories and findings in their work, but mutilate their content to fit their agenda. For instance, Deepak Chopra uses quantum theory and modern physics in his books and lectures on healing and consciousness. However, his “quantum theory” has absolutely no resemblance with the real one. The famous quantum wave-particle duality, for example, turns into nonmaterial-material duality, whereby matter is created from the nonmaterial mind. To the unsuspecting followers, this is an impressive “scientific” proof that mind-body medicine is indeed effective.
Food Babe is interested in the chemicals in processed foods. Any mention of toxigenicity or carcinogenicity in any study of a chemical raises a red flag in Food Babe’s mind, and she immediately starts her campaign against companies that use that chemical in their products. That’s how she started her campaign against caramel coloring of beers and the antioxidant BHT found in cereals. Never mind that US Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority have given their green lights to these chemicals based on the results of various scientific studies.
Pseudoscientists abhor quantities. Homeopaths refuse to accept the fact that diluting one part ingredient in 100 parts water (or alcohol) just a few times practically annihilates the active ingredient. Even if they accept the fact, they inject the faith-based notion that “water remembers” what was in it!
You cannot determine toxogenicity or carcinogenicity of a chemical unless you know how much of the chemical is consumed. Arsenic is a deadly toxin. Yet at any given moment, there are approximately 2500000000000000 arsenic molecules in every cubic centimeter of your body. Have you been poisoned? Are you going to die? The number above is large, but the number of other molecules in your body is considerably larger. It is its concentration relative to other (harmless) substances that determines the toxicity of arsenic. What is the lethal concentration? Historically, it was found by the forensic examination of the bodies of a multitude of unfortunate victims. But more accurate measurements of the lethal concentration – of not only arsenic, but also any other toxic or carcinogenic chemical – come from animal studies. When a chemical does not produce toxicity in laboratory animals, or it produces toxicity only after the consumption of a ridiculously high dose of the chemical, the chemical is assumed safe.
However, like a true pseudoscientist, Food Babe is not concerned with quantity. If she finds the name of a chemical on a food container, and there are studies done on the chemical for toxogenicity or carcinogenicity, she goes after the food company that uses the chemical in its products. Even though Food Babe mentions some of these studies and gives references to their sources, she draws her own conclusions from them.
Since quantity doesn’t matter, let’s look around and see what else could be toxic or carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) divides all the known carcinogens into five groups. Group 1 lists the carcinogens that are proven to cause cancer in humans. The first entry of Group 1 is Acetaldehyde, which occurs naturally in coffee, bread, and ripe fruits, and is produced by plants. Raisin is dried ripe grape. Whether grapes are grown conventionally or organically, when they ripen, they will contain Acetaldehyde. So, in the spirit of Food Babe’s orthorexic commitment to food safety, let’s make it known to her and all her followers that they should require grape producers and farmers to
Label all industrially and organically grown ripe grapes and raisins!