The Food Babe quiz. Can you tell Vani Hari quotes from other irrational nonsense?




By now I’m sure you’ve all seen the ravings of Vani Hari a.k.a. Food Babe. Her one women campaign to spread fear through nonsense has netted her (in)fame, fortune and influence. Not to mention a pretty strong back lash from the rational side of the internet.

So to test if you’ve been paying attention I thought I’d set a little quiz.

All you have to do is identify, in the list below, genuine Food Babe musings mixed with other random nonsense.

Answers at the bottom of the page.

So here goes, with a nice game of …

Food Babe or Not Food Babe.

1) There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.

2) Chlorophyll is the first product of light and, therefore, contains more light energy than any other element.

3) Please consider removing this additive from your diet because artificial dyes…Are man-made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum (a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar).

4) Your brain uses more oxygen than any another organ. If you need to concentrate it is important to keep you oxygen levels high .… Green leaves produce oxygen so if you need to study eat plenty of leafy vegetables to keep that brain well oxygenated.

5) When you look at the ingredients, if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

6) With a name like 8-methyl-N-vannillyl-6-nonenamide it’s bound to be a baddie. If you want more evidence of its unpleasantness then you may like to know that it is used by the police to control rioters.

7) Mass produced bread contains Potassium Bromate. Its used to help make the bread light and fluffy. Bromates have been banned as fire retardants in furniture, so how come its still used in the food we eat!?

8) Wheatgrass … is more than 70% chlorophyll which is essential for improving blood sugar problems.

9) For the experiment pictured above, microwaved water produced a similar physical structure to when the words “satan” and “hitler” were repeatedly exposed to the water.

10) You all know that we breath out carbon dioxide. But did you know that it’s an acid? … Whenever I’ve been in a crowded place I cleanse myself of the effects of all that acid breath with a good dose of Spirulina.

11) North Americans deserve to truly eat fresh – not yoga mats.

Credit: Fraud Files

How did you think you did? Here’s the answers.

1) Genuine Food Babe. An easy one to start with. You can find this little gem in her book. Don’t go out and buy it now.

2) Food babe again. Apparently wheatgrass is a miracle.

3) Food babe. Those nasty men in labs.

4) Not Food babe. Just me trying to channel Gillian McKeith.  

5) Food babe. But how are my fellow dyslexics and I going to eat?

6) Not Food babe. That one was me, with tongue firmly in cheek.

7) Not Food babe. Just random nonsense I made up, but sounds good doesn’t it?

8) Not Food babe. This gem came from the menu of the health food cafe I dinned in recently.

9) Food babe! Honesty, has she no shame? We’ll actually she might, since she’s removed offending post from her blog. But luckily the internet forgets nothing.

10) Not Food babe, I just made it up. But Vani does have some odd ideas about Spiriulina.

11) Food babe. What about fresh yoga mats? 

How did you do? Tell use you scores in the comments. And play along on twitter with #FoodbabeOrNot

By April 29, 2015 6 comments Uncategorized

It’s time science reclaimed health food from the quacks


 

IMG_0189I’m not quite sure what came over me, I’d set out in search of a beer and a burger. But somehow ended up in a juice bar wolfing down falafel, quaffing a cucumber, celery, ginger smoothie and sprinkling sweet potato chips with some strange pink salt.

And it was good. Really, really good. Tasty, satisfying and altogether wholesome.

Whilst I mopped up the last of the beetroot ketchup with my rye bread and slurped the dregs of the green juice, I flicked through the menu, idly wondering why the salt was pink. Tucked away on the back page I found the info I’d been looking for.

Apparently it was Himalayan pink salt.

What I read next pretty much ruined the whole dining experience.

Himalayan Pink Salt

This is a natural salt not like white table salt, which is a drug. Pink salt is extracted from the Himalayan mountains. It is negatively charged helping to draw positive ions out the body.

I sat paralysed. And wondered if this was due to my dinner having been laced with this strange substance that had removed all the ions essential for nerve impulses.

I regained enough movement to flick on my phone and Google the credentials of Himalayan salt. My panicked state subsided. For it is 98%, good old, sodium chloride, 2% polyhalite and a smidgen of rust (hence the pink tinge).

Once my composure had returned, I continued to flick through the menu. It was laced with plenty more pseudo-scientific claptrap.

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At this point I was starting to wonder if the place was run by Food babe. I rapidly made my exit and went in search of a stiff drink.

In the pub down the road, over a nice glass of single malt I got to thinking. The food, service and atmosphere in the juice bar had been great. Their products really were healthy. There was no need for the pseudo-science. Especially since genuine science about their ingredients is actually really interesting.

So I say to you Juice bar (and I will write to them) “Why not redraft your material with real science? I’ll even help you do it.”.

And if that doesn’t work, how about someone out there starts a health food cafe which doesn’t shy away from hard science, where real evidence prevails, where they tell you why the salt is pink, what chlorophyll actually does and how to eat a healthily diet. Wouldn’t such a place be more credible?

By April 18, 2015 7 comments opinion

A letter from a chemist to homeopaths


Dear Homeopaths,

Homeopathy awareness week is here again. And I’ve got some questions about this most popular of alternative therapies. The answers to which I’d very much like to be aware of.

Homeopathy, as I understand it (please correct me if I’m wrong), is based on a idea that ‘like cures like’. So if your hayfever causes runny eyes then onions may be be able to help (because onions cause similar symptoms). Or maybe you suffer from insomnia, in which case caffeine may be the solution. However a cup of strong coffee is likely to keep you wide awake. So you get around this through massive dilutions. This way, you claim, the beneficial effects are retained whilst the unpleasant side-effects are removed. 

Now before we go any further let’s make sure I understand the dilution process, again using the caffeine example. You might start with a solution of caffeine that’s about the same concentration as coffee. Then you perform a 1 in 100 dilution. The solution is shaken, often by hitting it against a leather bound surface (a process known as succussion). The result is known as a 1C solution. You perform another dilution, shake etc. resulting in a 2C solution. The process continues often 30 or more times. The net result is a solution that will not contain a single molecule of the original. In fact it might be the equivalent of diluting the cup of coffee in sphere of water the size of the solar system.

So far I hope we can agree. But it seems rather unlikely, to me, that this process might result in an effective remedy. Although you have explanations e.g. ‘water is capable of storing information relating to substances with which it has previously been in contact’. Or to put it another way the water can remember what was diluted in it.

There is no sound scientific evidence that water has any such memory storage capacity. However, homeopaths often tell scientist that we should be more open minded and not to be so wedded to the dogma that we have been taught. So here I am, putting my education and experience in chemistry to one side for a moment.

Nevertheless, even without everything that chemistry might tell me, I’m still left with what seems to be some logical holes in your therapy.  Hence my questions for you, and I really am interested in the answers.

How come the water remembers the starting substance (e.g. the caffeine) but not impurities?

The gold standard for water purity (used by analytical chemists, but not homeopaths) is just 10 parts impurity to 1 billion parts water. The concentration of these impurities is equivalent to a 4C solution. So in dilutions made beyond this point the impurities will outnumber the original substance. How then can the homeopathic solution know which molecules it is supposed to store information about?

How do you make an oxygen based homeopathic remedy?

There appear to be quite a few remedies based on oxygen. But oxygen from the air will continually dissolve in the water you use to dilute your solutions. So how do you actually manage to make a 30C dilution of oxygen, when at every step along the way you are just adding more of it to your remedy?  

How is the power of a remedy transferred from water to a dry pill?

You make pills by dropping a water remedy onto a sugar tablet and then drying it. How is the stored information (supposedly in the water) retained in the pill after the water has evaporated?

Why can’t I find a homeopathic contraceptive?

I looked and you don’t seem to make or sell any.

If the potency of a remedy increases the more it gets diluted why can this never be perceived as a strong taste?

If a remedy is to work then it must interact with our biology. Why does this never manifest to our sense of taste?

Why was homeopathy so ineffectual at combating infectious diseases before the advent of vaccines?

Your theme for this years homeopathy awareness week is infectious disease. Vaccinations have reduced the spread of infectious diseases to a tiny fraction of what they once were. Homeopathy was around long before most vaccinations were commonplace, so why did it fail to reduce the incidents of infectious diseases?

I hope by answering these you might be able to give me a greater awareness of how you believe your therapies work.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Mark Lorch

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By April 14, 2015 59 comments Uncategorized

The Disney Periodic Table: Clever Hook or Abomination?

We’ve all seen the plethora of faux periodic tables. I’ve ranted written about them before.

And now Disney (not content with trying to taking ownership of every  story ever) has chipped in with its own version of the periodic table.

At least it resembles the original, all the symbols are their, numbered correctly and laid out in the familiar way. But no longer do the symbols represent elements. Instead manganese has become Mulan, neon has transmutated into Nemo, and lead has been replaced by Pooh Bear (at least they are both rather dense). The only element that survives intact is copper, all be it in dog form and where cobalt should be.

Now I’m in two minds about this one. On the one hand it might serve as a way to get a bit of chemistry onto the walls of Disney fans and maybe they’ll then graduate onto the real version. But on the other hand it just makes me feel a bit sick :-/

So what do you think? Is it a clever way to elicit an interest in chemistry in those that might otherwise be more interested in fairy tale princesses or is it just an abomination?

 

By March 27, 2015 9 comments Uncategorized