July 4, 2015
[02:35] Yvette d'Entremont
[04:32] Why SciBabe
[07:29] How Yvette Got Into Blogging
[11:25] The Weekly Woo
[22:10] Yvette's Process Of Checking Scientific Validity
[26:34] Why Dave Asprey Is A Douchebag
[33:26] Non-GMO Wheat
[39:30] Why The Food Babe Is Full Of Sh*t
[41:37] The Pumpkin Spice Latte
[50:20] Banned By Food Babe Facebook Page
[53:43] Yvette's Beef With Some Of Food Babe's Statements
[1:00:16] Food Babe's Refined Sugar Allergy
[1:03:33] The Next Overhyped Fad
[1:15:34] End of Podcast
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In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
“I'm very careful about what I put into there. I won't go after someone unless I know exactly where the BS is and what they're doing. And I won't publish anything unless there is widespread scientific consensus.” “If anyone ever shows me proof that chiropractic makes you immune to the measles and not needing a shot, go ahead and show me that proof. But I've never seen it.” “He starts off saying the diet is based on paleo and then to bring it to another level. Here's the problem: the premise behind paleo is likewise BS.” “There's something else in that pumpkin spice latte that's in carcinogen class 2B, and that's coffee 'cause of the acrylamide that's accumulated during the roasting process.” “There's is the template ‘kale is good for you' to ‘kale is going to fight cancer'.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield here, and I first became aware of my podcast guest for today's episode when I read her article on gawker.com entitled “The Food Babe Blogger Is Full Of [beep]”. And my guest runs a website called scibabe.com. That's SCIbabe.com. Her name, which I'll be very careful not to mispronounce as I do this, is Yvette Guinevere d'Entremont, and she is the SciBabe. She looks at things like alternative medicine and pseudoscience movements and she writes about them in a pretty entertaining way over on her blog at scibabe.com. She's got a BA in theater, a BS in chemistry, and a master's degree, I believe, in forensic science with a concentration in biological criminalistics, whatever that is. So basically she lives in Southern California, she runs this blog full time, she makes an effort to debunk pseudoscience with humor. Right before we got started recording, she already started ripping into me for using the term superfood, so thought ought to be a lot of fun. So Yvette, welcome to The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.
Yvette: Thank you for having me, Ben. This is going to be entertaining.
Ben: So let's just start here as an easy way to delve in before we get into the Food Babe being full of [censored], the paleo diet being debunked, and Dave Asprey being a douchebag, which I believe are all things you've written about. I actually first heard you described as the Science Babe, but now it appears that you are labeling yourself as the SciBabe. Was there some kind of a nasty lawsuit or trademark infringement, or did you just want to kind of shorten things up with fewer syllables?
Yvette: Well there was no nasty lawsuit, but there was somebody already using the name “Science Babe”. When I first started the blog I started off kind of as a spoof of the Food Babe, and it took a much more serious bent. I mean it turned into my career. But when I looked up Science Babe, I found someone who, it looked like she hadn't used her site or her Facebook page in a while, and I thought, “Oh, this is an inactive page. It's not being used anymore.” I thought I was free and clear and then I got an e-mail from Debbie Berebichez, the Science Babe, saying, “Guess what? I'm getting your mail. And I'm still using the name.” I'm like, “Oh my god. I'm so sorry.” So we had a phone call and talked it out, and she said SciBabe enough is different that she hopefully wouldn't be getting my mail anymore. And I announced very publicly on my Facebook page. I goofed. I used the name that somebody else had. And she has been very nice, we're actually speaking at the same conference next month. I asked her, I'm like, “For all the trouble I've put you through, for you getting my mail, can I take you out for a drink?” So there's no nasty lawsuit. I goofed.
Ben: Yeah. It's interesting how the internet's like that. Like there's a reason that I don't have bengreenfield.com and that I have bengreenfieldfitness.com. When I first tried to get bengreenfield.com, I don't know if it still is this, but it was literally a website with a guy bent over that said “Enter bengreenfield.com”. And I couldn't find like how to buy the website, or how to get it off of auction or whatever. So I think since then, it's been taken over by some like real legit Ben Greenfield who's like, he's actually, speaking of theater, which I know you have degree in, I think he's in theater. But anyways, well…
Yvette: It's funny. Well, I tried doing, 'cause I'm not, I know my name sounds, at least in the US, sounds a little exotic, but there are like five other Yvette d'Entremonts, one of whom is a cousin of mine, or distant cousin of mine, and a singer in Nova Scotia. So yvettedentremont.com, I believe, is already taken. And I think there are three of us that were battling over the YdEntremont user name at Twitter because we're all on Twitter. I think I'm friends on Facebook with two of the other Yvette d'Entremonts, and it's like where we're always getting each other's mail. Mostly one of my cousins keeps sending them back over to me on Twitter. Like in the tiny little town we're from in, Nova Scotia, it's basically like being named Jane Smith.
Ben: Yeah. There's actually a lot of Benjamin Greenfields out there too. I just happen to be one of the few that are not a Jew. Despite what people think.
Yvette: I'm half-Jewish. I'll take that joke.
Ben: I'm curious, with a bachelor's degree in theater and chemistry, and a master's in forensic science, and a background working as an analytical chemist, how you actually got started into blogging.
Yvette: Well I had a couple different blogs kind of through the years, 'cause I liked writing, I was a decent writer. They were mostly just you know personal blogs for my own rambling. And then I started SciBabe after, I had like I kind of fallen into, at one point I'd fallen into the pseudoscience movement that I kind of fight now, and it's partially 'cause I was very sick and very desperate at the time. And after a few years of figuring out these people are not on the level and finding that were other people actively fighting against some of these people, I was like, “You know what? There's probably a voice for me in here. After following another page called Chow Babe, and there was, I think I had something to add to the conversation they were already having. I was like, “Okay, let's start this up.” Chow Babe, they were just spoofing her straight out. I'm going to add science to the mix. So it was born, I hate using this term, but it was born fairly organically, it's grown much faster than I expected.
Ben: Do you basically spend your day now researching pseudoscience and all of these movements in health, and fitness, and nutrition that threaten to be pseudoscience or passing fads and just write about them? How much of your day is taken up by this?
Yvette: At this point, I'm not just writing the blog. At this point, I do public speaking, I have a book deal, and I occasionally have a little bit of television appearance here and there. So I mean it's not just the blog. Basically when I'm not writing the blog, when people don't see me, that's when I'm tucked away working on my book. In the fallout of the Gawker article, I shouldn't use the term fallout, but part of the effects of the Gawker article was a book deal that I was trying to get, landed it two days after the article came out. A lot of my time is spent writing at this point. So it's a very big change from being, I was a lab chemist for all of my career after grad school. So having the switchover from being in a laboratory every day to writing for my day, it's been entertaining. But that's my job now, researching and debunking bad science for people, and I couldn't be happier with it.
Ben: Are you allowed to reveal the title of the book or the nature of it?
Yvette: Oh, yeah! It's “SciBabe's 10 Rules To BS Detection”. It's very similar to the writing style that I had in the article on the Food Babe. It's a little tongue-in-cheek, but it's also giving people a set of guidelines to be able to tell if somebody is giving them bad science. And it happens more often than you'd expect, but I think people don't always look at things on the internet probably with a very skeptical eye. Like how many times have you had somebody send you this forward, that onions trap the flu virus or something like that, and then looking at this going, we need to not just tell people this is B.S. piecemeal. We need to give them a way to recognize when something is bad science. So I wrote a random little blog entry on it. And I think a few weeks later, a lit agent reached out to me and I was like, I'd written the blog entry kind of as a funny thing and when a lit agent reach out and said, “Do you want to write a book,” I'm like, “We could expand on my blog entry on the 10 rules of B.S.” He's like, “It's perfect. Let's do it.” So I'm about four chapters in right now and I've been having a really good time writing it.
Ben: Cool. I can't wait to check it out once it's actually released.
Yvette: Yes. It's going to be a while, but it's coming.
Ben: In the meantime though, we have plenty to talk about besides the book. You have a section of your website called “The Weekly Woo”. What is The Weekly Woo?
Yvette: Well, for a while I was doing, when I was working, I was doing one blog entry minimum per week and I'm putting out, like finding out if there was some article or some you know charlatan that needed debunking, and of course going at it with a mixture of humor and very well-researched science. Like each of my blog entries took a minimum of like six hours to write. So my Sundays for a while, when I had a full time job, my Sundays were just wake up at 8 AM and write until whenever I'm done. I had one article I think that took me 15 hours to write, and it should be really well-researched. So I think that's part of the thing that's kept people coming back to my blog is that I'm very careful about what I put into there. I won't go after someone unless I know exactly where the B.S. is in what they're doing. And I won't publish anything unless there's widespread scientific consensus. So I'm very careful and I think people latched on to the quality of the work very quickly. And of course it's kind of funny. I try to mix in a decent amount of humor in there and it's a working combination so far.
Ben: Yeah. You talk about things like cancer, gluten, toxins, the Food Babe of course, which I know we're going to get into later. What would you say has been one of your more controversial or sexy topics of late on The Weekly Woo?
Yvette: After my website kind of blew up in April, I haven't been able to write a weekly basis anymore unfortunately. People get really cranky when I take a swipe at chiropractors. And that once in a blog called, something about snake oil. I don't have a right front of me…
Ben: By the way, is there a clown in your office right now?
Yvette: Oh, my dog is playing with a chew, Buddy! [whistle] Buddy's playing with a chewy toy. Actually, I just came…
Ben: I was just curious. It sounded like a clown.
Yvette: I do keep a clown here just in case. You need one on hand, obviously. How else do I get…
Ben: Yeah. Lots of people are scared of them. They're good burglar detention.
Yvette: How else am I going to get humor? I'm a scientist. Scientists aren't funny.
Ben: So that's your dog?
Yvette: That's my dog playing with a squeaky toy. Of course, all of his toys squeak. He's 11 pounds of dog and 10 pounds of stink. I've never met a tiny little dog that just managed to produce this much bad smell, but I think it's that all dogs have a certain amount of smell and it's only stretched out over 11 pounds in Buddy, and he's, hence, a stinky dog.
Ben: Okay. So we'll get back in the chiropractic here in a second 'cause I want to hear why that was so controversial. But you may, I'm not sure if you've debunked this, but my dog used to have horrible gas. We had a boxer and now we have a Rhodesian ridgeback, and we actually started them on what's called the raw food diet. The acronym for it is the BARF diet. It stands for something raw food. Off the top of my head, I don't recall. But you literally blend in like a Vitamix or one of these super powerful blenders raw meat with kale, and olive oil, and vitamin K, and all of these nutrients as an alternative to like GMO corn, and gluten, and some of the things in dog food, and then you feed that to your dog. And almost overnight, our dog's gas disappeared.
Yvette: The dog's farting is not the biggest problem. He is, okay, this is going to be disgusting. My dog is not coordinated. He's also not very smart. And he, when he's walking, 'cause I think his little legs are not, because he's a Chihuahua-Terrier mix, he's way cute, the most adorable dog you will ever see. I will fight about this. He's very adorable, but very dumb. And sometimes when he's peeing, he misses and hits his legs. This is why he stinks.
Ben: Okay. So it's not the farting, it's the urine.
Yvette: It's not the farting, no. I had a farting dog before this. Lily was a hundred pounds of crazy, but she was a farting dog. Buddy, not a farting dog, but definitely, he's just a stinky little pup. Don't worry. He gets bathed very often because…
Ben: I was going to say you may want to take one of those electric shaver so his…
Yvette: He's short-haired. You pee on yourself enough times, it's not going to smell good. I say this as from experiencing this dog. Like I said, he's cute, not useful.
Ben: I didn't really imagine this as something we'd be talking about. Now for those of you who want to keep your dogs from farting or who need to clean up urine on your dog's legs, you've now learned a valuable lesson. Back into chiropractic though, why did you say chiropractic is woo?
Yvette: Well here's the way it's started, and I don't think people realize this, chiropractic started when a magnetic healer claims that he fixed somebodies partial deafness by adjusting their back. And there's no way this is a thing that can happen. There are no nerves in your back that control if you can hear or not. I mean the guy was allegedly, he had partial hearing and it returned to full hearing. There's no peer-reviewed study on this. But from day one it was, and magnetic healing, total BS. This person who was already a charlatan, already selling things that we know don't work, don't have any validity, started the whole field. And then chiropractic school started popping up. And here's the problem, and this is the way I look at it, I've heard a lot of people say, “I went to a chiropractor and my back felt better.” Great. That's fine. If you want to do that, I feel like it's just a fancy, a certain type of back massage basically. And I think you're going to get about the same amount of relief from a massage therapists.
However, when they go past just the back cracking and the trying to make your back better, sometimes they try to be full family doctors and they're not equipped for that. They're not trained for it, they're not the appropriate person for that. And they also say things like adjusting your spine can increase your immunity so you don't need vaccines. I have a big problem with that because there's, again, no scientific validity to it. Like I said, I'm open-minded. If anyone ever shows me proof that chiropractic makes you immune to the measles and not needing a shot, go ahead and show me that proof. But I've never seen it.
Ben: Interesting. I have my own take on a chiropractic therapy because I've been to what I would term a woo-woo chiropractor who hooks you up to a magical machine that tells you which supplements you need through muscle testing techniques. And then of course you've got a $200 supplement bill as you walk out.
Yvette: And they tell you don't go to mainstream medicine because all they're interested in is money. So I think that's hilarious.
Ben: But I've also been to chiropractic physicians who work with local professional sports teams who have done things like adjusted my sacroiliac joint and literally popped it out of place so that I'm able to run and so that my hips move, and literally have like high speed video cameras to show before and after results from running on a treadmill, for example, or who will take and an atlas or an axis vertebra that's slightly out of place in your neck and kind of pop that back into place so your neck feels good. Do you think that there are varying levels of woo in certain forms of medicine like this where some are woo and some are not? Or would chiropractic medicine like across the board is woo?
Yvette: I'm going to say about, it's funny. Whenever I get into this conversation, I always hear people say they agree with me and then I always hear people say I went to my chiropractor and everything got better. All they did was crack my back. I had the one chiropractor that's not full of crap. So I mean I don't discount that people said they felt relief from this, but chiropractic, all the things that go into it, if you look at the things they believe as a whole in the field are just utter BS. And I think, no matter what, there are going to be some that people felt relieved after getting, like I said, a fancy back massage. And I think that people need to look and be a little skeptical of what they're paying for their medical treatment. So if someone goes and has her back cracked and it feels better, I always say, “Look to see if it was just a fancy back massage.” ‘Cause a lot of times, you're getting that relief because you're looking for it and that's when you see it. So but I don't think that, like I said, I would never recommend someone go to a chiropractor. I'll always recommend a physiotherapist and a massage therapist first. But of course, depending on what their actual doctor says. But I think it's the exception not the rule when you're looking at chiropractic and you hear someone that's very science-based.
Ben: Yeah. And it is a tough call too sometimes because a lot of chiropractics are, for example, active release therapy practitioners, right. So they do things like physiotherapy. Or they are massage therapist/chiropractors, and so sometimes you're getting some of the type of treatments that, like the massage therapy or the physiotherapy that you do, and that's kind of rolled into the potential of some kind of like muscle testing for testing whether or not you need a certain supplement, right. So it can be a mix of a few things that you've got to kind of navigate through.
Yvette: Yeah. And I mean every so often when I write about chiropractic, I get a really nasty e-mail from a chiropractor. So it's interesting to me that that's the group that tends to send me the most hate mail from the people themselves. And…
Ben: And we will get that in the comments section, by the way.
Yvette: Oh, yeah. They're going to say that I'm on the payroll of big pharma and that I just don't know 'cause I've never been to one. It's like, “No, no, no. Guys, read your charter. The American Chiropractic Association says some of these things that are completely ridiculous and not scientifically proven.” Like if they want to show me, show me. I'm open-minded to scientific proof that this stuff works, but it doesn't seem to across the board have validity to it. So I think that's why I tell people look out what they're actually doing and look at what chiropractic believes, and I think there are much worse things in this than people realize before they look into it.
Ben: Now when you're looking for things like scientific validity, what is your process? Do you have specific research journals or articles that you follow? Do you do strictly stay on PubMed? What's kind of your process?
Yvette: Well my process is if I see something that I'm just, there are a lot of buzzwords that I know almost automatically indicate that something is just not on the level. Like whenever I see “natural” in the description for something, I'm like, “There has to be some BS happening here,” cause it barely has a meaning when it's used in advertising. So I look to see how people are advertising themselves, what kind of buzzwords people are using in their blogs. And if they don't have any scientific validity, like there are some people who tell you not to have any medications whatsoever in your medicine cabinet and to replace it all with bentonite clay or something like that. It's like when I look at how they conflate science and how they are not using it accurately, it's like, “Okay, let's start off to see if there is scientific evidence to back them up.” ‘Cause I mean I'm always open to being wrong. But it's like I'll look through the journals, I'll look through other articles that have been written about them, 'cause sometimes they're articles that are compilations that have a lot of the evidence against someone. But if it's mainly looking to see if somebody is going to give bad advice, or any sort of kind of bad or inaccurate health claims, consumer, and see how you can break that down with things that are peer-reviewed and evidence-based to show them, “No, this is how you do this.” It's kind of, like I said, arming the consumer to make sure they know that there's scientific proof or evidence to support that some of these people are not giving them good advice. So I want people to see there's science behind this.
Ben: What are some of your favorite resources as far as like journals you subscribe to, or blogs, or digests that you follow to inform you.
Yvette: Well, I don't follow, I don't have a certain blog. Basically any of the PLOS ones are good. As you said earlier, PubMed. I want people, like I said, to look for…
Ben: What'd you call it? PRS?
Yvette: PLOS. It's one of the…
Ben: Oh, PLOS. Yeah. Like the PLOS One.
Yvette: Yeah. Exactly. The Public Library of Science for PLOS. But I mean those are some good resources. I tell people before saying that something is true, 'cause I mean you can find in one study that supports something, fairly often I try to find meta-analyses, and I try to find reviews that show, “here's a compilation of all of the articles” 'cause I want people to see that this is not just my opinion, this is the opinion of science. Not the opinion, but this is what all the scientists say, not just one tiny little research paper. So I want people to see the, like I said, the widespread scientific consensus. I generally don't publish something unless there are, or debunk something unless there are a lot of articles and a lot of research showing that they're wrong. Like if there's just one article against someone, I'm not going to contend with it. But I try to find things that there is widespread scientific consensus. One of the blogs that I do follow is Science Based Medicine. It's run by Dr. David Gorski. I also follow, I think it's TheNess, from one of the guides it's on, Skeptic's Guide To The Universe, also a doctor. So I try, like I said, to follow blogs and articles that I know are coming from accurate sources.
Ben: So that was Science Based Medicine, I'm asking because I'm taking some notes for folks who want to go to the show notes to add some of these to their feeder of possible, Science Based Medicine. What was the other, the skeptics one?
Yvette: It's neurological blog, and it's at theness.com.
Ben: Okay. theness.com. Got it. Okay. Cool. Okay. So I want to ask you, again in just a little bit here, about this article on Gawker about the food blog. But I actually have another question for you as well because you have plenty on there about the woo. Like I mentioned, you cover cancer, and you cover chiropractic, and you cover gluten. You also have a post that's called “The [censored] Proof Diet” in which you address paleo among many other things, but you also call Dave Asprey a douchebag. And I'm curious if you would care to expound on that.
Yvette: Well I find that, number one, just looking at the language he uses in his blog, he starts off, I mean here is the claim on his website, or this is the I'm-going-to-draw-you-into-things: “Can you really lose a hundred pounds without exercise, upgrade your IQ by more than 12 points, and stay healthy sleeping less than five hours. It took 15 years and $300,000 to learn how to reach the Bulletproof state of high performance and it's all here in the blog for you.” That just sounds like, I mean if people don't read that and go, “There's some [censored] here,” their [censored] detector is not on. And sorry if I just used a word I can't use on the show. But I think when people see…
Ben: Don't worry. We have plenty of cowbells and whistles.
Yvette: Yes! Awesome! But I mean he starts off saying the diet is based on paleo, and then to bring it to another level. And here's the problem: the premise behind paleo is likewise BS. It's not very accurate. And then he tries to add in, say you have to eat a certain type of chocolate, but I don't think the cavemen were sitting around grinding up cocoa beans. It's very not paleo, like I said, even though the diets already BS. Then he says that grains contain opiates, they don't, and that they cause cancer, they don't. He demonizes veganism as though that makes his work better by demonizing another type of diet. Here's the thing: there are a lot of ways to be healthy and to fuel your life, and I think that the way he packages things are, there's a lot of BS just in the marketing. He calls his coffee toxin free. And people have tested the coffee they claimed weren't toxin free and there was nothing wrong with them. His coffee, it's just coffee. And he makes it sound like it's this magical elixir of life. And it's really not. Like I haven't seen any double blind peer review on his coffee mix versus plain old coffee. So when he says it gives you lasting energy and it's going to, and for people who don't know, it's the coffee that has about 600 calories of butter mixed into it. And people are like, “Yeah, I wasn't hungry for the next several hours.” I'm like, “Yeah. That's 'cause you just had six hundred calories.” There's nothing magical about the butter or coffee combination. Of course he adds in this MCT oil, which is just, it's just souped up coconut oil. So I mean a lot of the promises from what he does are just not accurate. I mean I'm sure people can lose weight on his diet plan, I'm sure people feel good, but I think I want people to look into the premise to see if he's just selling something.
Ben: So when you publish an article like that, do you get engaged with people who start to counterattack some of the arguments that you would make against something like that. Like say like opiate, like grains not having opiates in them. Like do people talk to you at all about gliadin and opiate receptors in the brain, and do you delve into that kind of stuff? Or are you generally just like looking at things from a 30,000 foot view?
Yvette: It depends on the article. I mean sometimes I'll get very, very detailed. Like the article I wrote on Bulletproof diet, I was going after all the diets that incorporate some sort of “grain is evil” message, and it was right after New Year's, and I'm like, “Here's your New Year's diet thing!” Like that was why I went after a couple different diets. For the record, I am gluten free, but I have celiac disease. So when I see all these other diets saying “gluten is bad for you” or “wheat is bad for you”, I'm like wheat makes up approximately 20% of the world's total calorie load. And I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, I'm just saying it is what it is. I think we would see a lot more issues if there was something specific to the wheat that was causing problems, and I just think it's not accurate. Now I'm sure there are people who are going to attack saying, “Well, we have more issues. We have more cancer, more whatever today.” The reason we have more of it is because people are living longer. At any society where people live longer, you're going to see more cancer cases. It's a disease that happens as the body is starting to shut down. Now there are some foods that can trigger it, or things that, and I mean that's, you have to look through the medical research a little bit on it, like there are certain things you shouldn't be having, like cigarettes obviously. But I mean to say that grain can cause cancer I think is a very overblown claim that doesn't seem to have any backing to it.
Ben: Yeah. And I'll be straightforward with you. Like there are certain things that I would, like in the example of that article, that I would disagree with you on. For example, I do think that there is a potential for gliadin polypeptides to bind to opiate receptors in the brain. I do think that when you blend some of the terpenes in coffee with fats that they cross the blood-brain barrier and have a different mechanism of action than just the isolated caffeine molecule. But…
Yvette: Well I asked people, I asked for scientific proof of that. If someone can show me proof…
Ben: And, yeah. There's certainly proof. Like years ago, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did a study on how Naloxone, it's basically an opiate blocker, reduces a consumption of some of these gluten containing foods. And again, like I didn't…
Yvette: Naloxone also reduces, I mean here's the thing, I think using the Naloxone example, like you have to look, is it just because of the gluten or is it because there's a bit of a pleasure thing whenever you eat something that tastes good. But whenever you put someone on something that regulates parts of their brain, food taste can change, a lot of times it reduces cravings for things. So I think you have to look to see what the exact cause of losing those cravings was. It's not necessarily just the gluten containing foods that people lost their cravings for.
Ben: Right. And a lot of this stuff just gives us clues, like that gluten containing foods could potentially be something that causes addiction or a type of high similar to what you might get from toxin. And for the record, I'm personally not gluten free. Like I eat wheat, I eat a local non-GMO organic wheat that my wife makes sourdough bread out of.
Yvette: I miss it so much. Actually there's no GMO wheat on the market. So number one, GMOs are fine. I'm saying that publicly here for everyone to hate me about saying that. And of course they're going to be the accusations that I'm a shill coming in the comment section. I'm not. But there's nothing wrong GMO stuff. Whenever I see someone labeling wheat as non-GMO, I'm like, “There's no GMO wheat on the market.” I think you're trying to tell people that there is, there's no need for this labeling is what it comes down to.
Ben: What do you mean when you say there's no non-GMO meat on the market? Or non-GMO wheat on the market.
Yvette: No. There's no GMO wheat on the market.
Ben: That's what I meant to say. I'm sorry.
Yvette: Yeah. I mean exactly that. There's no wheat that's currently on the market that was produced to be a genetic modification. It hasn't been approved at the moment. It's been hybridized, it's been crossbred, but the wheat that's on the market is not genetically modified.
Ben: So like the Monsanto transgenic wheat, like the glyphosate resistant wheat, that wouldn't be considered something genetically modified?
Yvette: From what I've gathered, it's not on the market. But I mean, hold on a second. Let me do a quick, I'm not sure, but if it's, from what I've read, from what I've been told, there's no GMO wheat on the market. I think it's soya, isn't it soy and corn that's glyphosate is used on?
Ben: Well, the Monsanto, I think it was the MON71800, their glyphosate resistant wheat. I think it may have been originally something used in maize or corn, but I believe they've developed a glyphosate resistant wheat as well.
Yvette: Last time I checked, and I could be wrong, every time that this is brought up, I see my friends who run science blogs saying there's no GMO wheat on the market. And here's the thing, I think saying, like people get worried about the GMO thing very unnecessary, and I think it's just fear of a science they don't understand. Because we've been, you've seen this probably if you read my blog entry on diets, we've been genetically modifying things for ages. And the way I like to phrase this to people is you're trying to roll dice to get, like when you're hybridizing and when you're just saying, “Okay, we're going to shake pollen from this one on to this one into the field,” you're rolling dice and hoping that you have a way to shake those dice into getting all 6's. Genetic modification, you just reach in and turn the dice over to 6 by going very specific with one or two genes. And I mean they're doing this out of tens of thousands of them. Like whenever you see a picture of a fish sticking out of the tomato, that blog is probably not giving you accurate information. Just what I've noticed, this is a correlation, not a causation, but whenever you see the fish in the tomato, this blog has an agenda and it's to say, “I don't like the science.”
Now here's the thing, I talk to farmers constantly and that's something that's been a big surprise to me since I've started the page is how many farmers came out of the woodwork to support what I was saying because farmers like GMO. They can use less water in some cases, they use less pesticide, they're in general better for the environment and better for the farmers. And I think when people say they don't like GMOs because they've heard all these things about it, a lot of the times they've heard very, very inaccurate claims. I've looked over this time and again, and at one point I was anti-GMO because I'd heard things, I had seen a few Netflix documentaries, I like to say I was a Netflix expert on this stuff. But I mean that's the thing, people will hear a study or they'll hear a one-off thing saying GMOs are bad, but all of the studies come back, meta-analyses on studies and they show they're safe. Like you said, if one day I find proof that I'm wrong, reputable proof that I'm wrong, I will change my mind.
Ben: For example, bananas that have been bred to have higher amounts of fat soluble vitamins that can help to address fat soluble vitamin deficiencies in children, for example. I believe that somewhere in Africa, they're using those type of bananas. And there are cases like that where I think that genetic modification can do humankind a great deal of good. But for example, one reason that I'll avoid things that contain glyphosate or Bt toxin is just because, and again it's in mice, it's not in people, but it has been shown to damage some of the microvilli in the intestinal tract, kind of similar to what you get in celiac disease. So I'm careful.
Yvette: Well, here's my question for you on, which one was it, on avoiding GMOs and avoiding Bt toxin. Are you aware that Bt toxin is used as an organic pesticide? It's used in organic farming. They're just making it so that it's produced in a very tiny amount in the plant. And the other way that point this out to people about the Bt, when people think it's bad for them because it's a toxin to a bug, these can be species specific, and of course dose specific. So they make it so that it's toxic to one or two species of bugs, to certain species of bugs, and it's not, when consumed in the amount you're going to consume it on a daily basis, it's not toxic to humans. It's kind of like saying, “Well, chocolate's bad for dogs, so humans shouldn't have it either.” No, this is a thing that specifically designed to be bad for the bugs. And like I said, it's used in organic farming as well.
Ben: Yeah. I certainly agree that organic farming is not something that's flawless either. And I'm one of those lucky people that I grow most of my own food, and have goats and chickens, and just take care of most of it myself because there are a lot of issues out there.
Yvette: I'm coming to hang out. I like goats.
Ben: And honestly, like when we first started this podcast, I didn't even imagine that we'd be getting into it to any type of debates 'cause I'll bet that we could probably debate all day honestly, and it'd be…
Yvette: It's fine for us having different opinions on these.
Ben: And your dog would go nuts. But what I really wanted to talk about, and the whole reason I got you on here, like 40 minutes into our interview, is the Food Babe article, “The Food Babe Blogger is Full Of [censored]” that you write on Gawker. And I honestly just want to delve into what you write about there and why you think Vani Hari a.k.a. the Food Babe is utterly full of [censored] as you write. So let's jump in. I'll just ask the question straight up. Why is the Food Babe full of [censored]?
Yvette: Oh, god. Where to start. So I mean I wrote in the article a lot about it. Now here's…
Ben: And you can take it point by point to if you want to like you did in the article.
Yvette: Now once upon a time she seemed to be a blogger just saying “here are the unprocessed foods I'm eating”, “here are things that I find that work for me”, and then she turned to attacking large companies for one ingredient that she could take out of context and make it sound scary and bad to the consumer who didn't know about it. And I think her business model of trying to tell people, “Look, we've taken one ingredient out of this thing, and anything that is artificial is bad, or anything that I don't know exactly what's in it,” like if she sees natural flavors she automatically tells the company that they're wrong, that they're selling something bad. She uses very bad science to attack companies. Now she wanted to be an actual health blogger and tell people how to eat more healthfully and help people with that. She would be helping people who don't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables have access to them. She'd be promoting just more, a more, I guess you can say balanced diet. I mean in the US in general, we don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, we're going to tend more towards processed food. So she wants to tell people, “Eat more fruits and veggies,” I would be on board with her. But it seems like her business model has turned into saying, “If I can't pronounce it, don't eat it.” Well how do you eat when you're traveling? Taking one thing and saying it's toxic, when she uses the term toxic completely inappropriately. And she's also anti-vacc, so she's pro-fake cancer cures. So big problems with that.
Ben: So let me start here. The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. From what I understand, like that was one of your big, like, was one of your big reasons for starting your site and what you wrote about her article on the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Can you talk a little bit about what that article was and why you disagreed with it?
Yvette: Well she started saying that pumpkin spice latte, “You'll never believe what's in your pumpkin spice latte.” So right up the bat, click bait. You get into this, and here's what she claims, she claims that the PSL has a toxic dose of sugar and then two doses of caramel color level four which is in carcinogen class 2B and that sounds really scary to somebody that doesn't know what those terms mean. But she managed to take a chemical that in the dose, it's used in completely innocuous and tried saying that sugar, there is a toxic dose of sugar when she promotes something called Suja Juice that has, in one of their juices, has the same amount of sugar. But this is a person who doesn't seem to know what the definition of toxic is, what the definition of a food allergy is. But the word “toxic” has a meaning that is having the effect of a poison. So saying that sugar is toxic when you would need to drink about 50 of those lattes all at once to get enough sugar to have a toxic dose of it, and after drinking these 50 lattes you might have enough caffeine, for me, but still the sugar is just, it's not bad for you in the amount you have it in one latte as long as you're burning that off. The only thing about the amount of sugar that can be bad for you is not brushing your teeth and not burning it off. But it's not toxic. So I mean she uses that term because it's a hot term right now. People hear are toxic, they're going to avoid something. But if it's on the market, people aren't dropping dead in the streets after they've had a PSL. They're going back for more 'cause they run out of the PSL seasoning every year. This is not a toxic thing.
Ben: PSL being pumpkin spice latte?
Yvette: Pumpkin spice latte, yeah.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha.
Yvette: And I mean she tried saying that, which ingredient was it, that the caramel color is in carcinogen class 2B, so you want to avoid it. The problem is carcinogen class 2B means that in some amount, we haven't ruled out 100% that it can't cause cancer. They've never found an actual case of cancer caused by this. The other thing is that there's something else in that pumpkin spice latte that's in carcinogen class 2B, and that's coffee. Coffee is in carcinogen class 2B because of the acrylamide that's accumulated during the roasting process. So for her to say that this is bad because it has something in carcinogen class 2B while ignoring that the coffee is in it, how disingenuous can you be? It was just a way for her to drum up a lot of attention because Starbucks, she's going after Starbucks. It's a big company. It's bigger than Monsanto even. So of course she went after a big company and it was trying to get attention. And I mean this is not, and of course she was taking ingredients out of context and I have a big problem with that.
Ben: So it sounds to me like many ingredients that we might find in completely natural compounds, like say water or coffee, could, in certain amounts, be both toxic, although it sounds to me like you're saying that we need to be careful with that term, or carcinogenic in the same way that many man-made chemicals or things in a drink like a pumpkin spice latte could also, in certain amounts, be toxic and carcinogenic. But the question is are we talking about something that's toxic and carcinogenic in ungodly amounts or something that is probably okay in smaller amounts, especially if you happen to be exercising?
Yvette: Exactly. Like I tell people, like I've run a couple of marathons, and whenever I hear someone say sugar is toxic, I'm like, “Tell that to me at mile 18 when I'm trying desperately not to choke on a Gu packet.” Sugar is not, it's not a toxin, it's not an opiate, it's a carbohydrate, it's a short-chain carbohydrate. You shouldn't have too much of it obviously. Don't have more than your body can handle, your exercise load can handle. It's not great for you, but having it in the amount that you're going to have it in something like the PSL, as long as you can, like I said, it's a treat as long as you can burn off those ensuing calories, there's really nothing to worry about it.
Ben: Yeah. I think, in my opinion, the people who need to be careful with things like pumpkin spice latte, for example, are folks who are, let's say, purchasing a grande pumpkin spice latte for of, I don't know how many calories, and then sitting in their car for three hours and then sitting at their desk for two hours while their blood glucose rises, and they get that surge of insulin, and then they probably have a meal within a couple hours later. I think the total calories are a bigger issue than the potential for toxins and carcinogens.
Yvette: Absolutely. And I mean I always say, I don't want to say there are good foods and bad foods. I say there are foods you should have more of and foods you should have less of. But if it's on the market, it had to go through a lot of regulation before it could get there and a lot of testing. And that's one of things that I see when people are arguing against GMOs is it's never been tested. No, these things were tested a lot. But if something got to the market like the PSL, I think we would know if the PSL, other than the calorie load, was causing people a lot of all these things she claimed that they were causing. And it's just not, let's see, it's just not a health food, but having one or two a season when they come out is not going to kill you.
Yvette: As long as you're burning those calories.
Ben: What do you think about her rule that if a third grader can't pronounce it, you shouldn't eat it?
Yvette: I always say this, don't base your diet on the pronunciation skills of an eight year old. I think it's a very, I like to think she likes the simplistic ideology because it sells with people. But I think you're ignoring a lot of things 'cause you're saying some chemical is bad, something, I think she thinks that some things don't contain chemicals, so she'll take the very long chemical name of something and say this is bad because we can't pronounce it, ignoring that natural things are made of chemicals too. Everything's composed of chemicals. So she'll take something hard to pronounce and say it's bad while ignoring that this is, I think there's a poster showing a blueberry saying, “Here's the composition of a blueberry,” and it shows all the chemicals that are in it. And you have to remember, things are composed of chemicals. We just don't see it on a label of something that, I guess, that people would call a whole food. But you don't see the chemicals 'cause you're not thinking about it. Everything is composed of chemicals. Whenever you hear a health blogger without a background in chemistry or toxicology saying this is a bad chemical or this is toxic, there's probably some BS astray there.
Ben: Yeah. That's interesting. There's an article, and I'll link to it in the show notes, it was written by a chemistry instructor in Australia about the ingredients of all natural blueberries. And when you look at it, it's got a phenylalanine, and it's ethyl ethanoate, and 3-Methylbutraldehyde, and benzaldehyde…
Yvette: And it sounds so scary, doesn't it?
Ben: And methylmaraben. Even flavanols, and polyphenols, and anthocyanins to some people sound scary. But…
Yvette: It's easy to scare a consumer, if you put a big word out there and say, “This is bad,” it's very easy to use that as a scare tactic.
Ben: And there are obviously, I think we've already established the fact that there's probably a lot of things that you and I disagree on…
Yvette: That's fine. I'm not here to change your mind.
Ben: I certainly am on the same page as you that when you're looking at a label, just because it has a big scary looking, hard to pronounce word on it, that does not necessarily, by it's nature, mean that it's bad for you. And I agree, “if a third grader can't pronounce it, then you shouldn't eat it” is not, in my opinion…
Yvette: Far too simplistic.
Ben: Yeah. It really is. It's overly simplistic.
Yvette: I mean I'll say it aloud: there are some things I agree with her on. She tells people to eat less processed foods. That's probably pretty good health advice. And I mean I probably eat more similarly to Vani than people would expect. Like my fridge full of fresh produce, there are very few things of processed food in my house and it's not because I think they're dangerous but because they're highly caloric. And I've lost 90 pounds, I've been trying to keep it off. So you'll get much farther with Brussel sprouts than you will with chocolate for your caloric load. But that doesn't mean never have chocolate.
Ben: You mention that there is, I believe, a Facebook group called “Banned by Food Babe”, or something like that.
Yvette: Yes, there is.
Ben: Why is that and what's going on there?
Yvette: Alright. So Vani, in a couple interviews at one point she claimed that she didn't ban anyone from her site, or that she only banned people when they used obscenities or were horribly rude. People have gotten banned from her page, like people who are supporters of hers have gotten banned for her page by asking questions like, “What are your credentials?” If you disagree with her even slightly or if you ask a slightly neutral question of clarification, you get banned from her page.
Ben: What does that mean to be banned from a page?
Yvette: You can ban a user from your page on Facebook. So they can see the page, but they can't comment, they can't like. I mean here's the thing, I've banned people too. I understand if she wants to ban people who are harassing her because it's the internet and people are jerks. I've blocked people to my page who 'cause people occasionally say some swear words about her that I don't agree with. Like look, I don't know Vani Hari, the human being. I know Food Babe, LLC and their business practices. So when people go on and call her some words that I'm not even going to bother saying here, they get banned from my page. I'm like if I wouldn't put up with people saying it about me, I won't put up with people saying it about her. But we're there to fight the science, not the human being. It's seems like she, conversely on her page, only bans people who ask any negative things about her. And I mean not even negative, but just questions of clarification. It's at the point where she's banned, at this point, well over, just in the group alone, we know of, I think there are 9,000 people now. When I wrote the article, they were about six. But that's the thing, she's banned, if you ban that many people because you can't have any dissenting comments on your page, there's a problem. It means that either you're just kind of trying to ignore that there are any people disagreeing with you, or not letting your followers see that there are people who don't like you. It seems very odd how she runs this.
Ben: At the risk of turning this into a complete gossip fest, do you know if Vani has ever spoken out about why she's banned people or responded to your article?
Yvette: Whenever I've seen something from her about why she bans people, she'll say the same line over and over again, “I only ban people who are abusive or who are say…” her way of claiming that she bans people or blocks people from the page is disingenuous at best. ‘Cause it's like she's not just banning people who are being rude and horrible to her. It's like, “Girl, I get it. The internet is rough sometimes.” But she bans anyone who has a slightly dissenting agreement, and that's not how she presents it when she's questioned about it ever.
Ben: So there's a statement that you quote in the article on Gawker that says that the food babe uses statements like this: “the enzymes released from Kale go into your liver and trigger cancer fighting chemicals that literally dissolve unhealthy cells throughout your body”. What is your beef with a statement like that?
Yvette: Okay. This is one of the things she says that sounds, it might sound scientific, but kale is not dissolving on healthy cells in your body. Kale is good for you. I eat kale, I like kale. I find it a little crispier than spinach. It's good stuff. But saying that enzymes from Kale go into, there's no validity to a claim like that. Like this is one of the things she puts on her site without any peer reviewed articles, without anything. So again, vegetables are very good for you. I mean saying it literally dissolves unhealthy cells, what does that even mean? Do they think that kale is just eating cancer? ‘Cause I mean I think that's how people think this works, and it's not. And I think when you read something like that, this goes into your liver and does it, it's like, “No, no, no.” I mean she makes it sound like kale is going to treat cancer. And there are other charlatans like the Gerson therapy that they think that having 13 glass of juice a day and having coffee enemas, this is a thing, coffee enemas to help detoxify your liver, they think is going to cure cancer. There have been bloggers who said they're treating their cancer with Gerson therapy who have died. And Food Babe, she endorses Gerson therapy at her website. I mean there's just no proof that it works, or that this is a thing that happens.
Ben: Yeah. So basically overly simplistic definitions of how superfoods or things like kale somehow get rid of cancer or completely detox your body, when in fact it's a lot more complex than that.
Yvette: Yeah. I mean detox is just not, well here's the thing: whenever you hear somebody say you need to do a detox, they'll always go after pesticides and heavy metals. And here's the problem: the symptoms that they claim are coming from these things are not the symptoms that pesticides or heavy metals cause. So I mean when people say that you need to do a detox, they think that, I'm not sure what people are picturing, I think they're just picturing like somehow the juice is curing things. I promise you juice, not even organic or freshly pressed juice, it's not going to cure anything. It's just juice. So when I hear someone say, “Do a detox,” “Do this,” I ask them, “What is it going to cure and why?” And there's never a consistent answer. And like here's the thing, you might feel better afterwards 'cause a lot of times you're cutting calories down 'cause in a lot of detoxes, there are just a lot of vegetables. I've seen Dr. Oz promote something as a chelator and it's not. You need Dimercaprol for chelating, and I see them say it's going to wipe the pesticides out of you. I'm like, “That's just not a thing that happens.” So it's very, there's no scientific validity to back the whole detoxing claims. Vegetables are great for you. I want people to eat more of them. I'm practically living on them. It's very easy to conflate something like “kale is good for you” to “kale is going to fight cancer”. And I don't want people to read that and think I don't have to get chemo 'cause that's horribly dangerous.
Ben: Are you sitting down?
Ben: Okay. I do a Bulletproof coffee enema about once every two weeks.
Yvette: Oh my. Are you kidding me?
Ben: No. I'm totally not kidding you. I don't do it because I think it's going to cure me of cancer or because of its detoxification effects. I do it because I poop like a baby every day since I started doing it. So I do indeed, not only do I do a coffee enema once every couple of weeks, but I do a bulletproof coffee enema.
Ben: Anyways, just throw in your curve ball there.
Yvette: I'm glad I was sitting.
Ben: I just wanted to get your reaction on the podcast.
Yvette: Here's a question. Hot or cold?
Ben: It's warm. It's like a nice, relaxing, warm temperature.
Yvette: I mean I hate to say something like this because it sounds, how else to phrase this, there are children in Africa who hate you right now because you're shooting coffee in your butt. You are playing with food.
Ben: Yeah. In that case I do not consider it a food as much as more of a medicine to increase peristalsis. But it does actually, well perhaps you could try it and write Woo blog post on it sometime.
Yvette: I think that I'm not…
Ben: Putting coffee up your butt, the buck stops there?
Yvette: It was funny. At one point, I considered going on Vani Hari's diet, taking all of her advice, and blogging about it, and blogging how much I hated life because I couldn't eat things. But I was like, “No, I don't want to do this.” If [0:58:40] ______ go on Vani Hari's advice or take her advice, if I'm not going to take her advice unless that I'm not going to go as far as shooting good coffee where it shouldn't go.
Ben: Yeah. Well you don't need to drink it afterwards or anything…
Yvette: I wasn't planning on it…
Ben: But you do realize you actually just called Bulletproof coffee good coffee?
Yvette: I didn't realize you were using Bulletproof.
Ben: I'm just giving you a hard time.
Yvette: I'm sure it tastes good, I just don't think it's medicine. It's good to make you not kill people in the morning when you're trying to wake up, but that's about it.
Ben: I have another thing that I wanted to talk to you about too. We can leave enemas behind for another day. Although now I know that I could potentially appear on your woo alert now after making you aware that I do an enema.
Yvette: I'll tell you’re very nice and say here's why you shouldn't do a coffee enema and I hope that you can save your coffee…
Ben: I will read it if you write it. I love to hear all the opinions. So I think we were talking about this before we started recording. I'm a pretty open-minded dude. You talk about allergies, food allergies and how you certainly have an issue with Vani Hari claiming she's allergic to refined sugar. Can you expound on that?
Yvette: Well one of the things you claimed was she went to her acupuncturist, I think it was who diagnosed her with an allergy to refined sugar. Now number one, your acupuncturist is not the person who's qualified to diagnose you with an allergy. So right up the bat, the diagnosis, probably BS. You need to do a certain amount of testing for that. And then she claimed that her allergy was treated with crystal laser therapy. That's just not how this works. I find myself screaming at the internet, “That's not how any of this works” so often when I see things like that. But then she claims in the same blog entry, she shows all these pictures of dessert she's had. Your body doesn't know where a source of sugar came from. Your body doesn't know if it's molasses, if it's honey. All they know is there's a lot of sugar that my pancreas has to process. So we're claiming she was allergic to refined sugar. I'm calling BS on that because there is no such allergy. I mean the other thing is she tells people to, when they're going to restaurants, to lie about their food allergies basically so that they can cut calories.
Here's a problem is that I have celiac disease, and I see when people say to lie about allergies or when people take a food preference and claim it's an allergy, after 20 people in a row like that show up to a restaurant and I show up and say, “No, really. I have the real gluten-free disorder.” Like I don't know how seriously a kitchen staff is going to take that after they've had 20 liars in a row. So like food allergies are not to be, they're not something to lie about. Like if you have something you don't want on your food, just tell the waiter you're a fussy douchebag and get on with your life.
Ben: The fussy douchebag. It does make sense that by lying about food allergies we may indeed make the restaurant industry a little less likely to believe us, or perhaps more likely to roll their eyes and ignore the requests of people who, like you, actually do have full-blown celiac disease, which actually is an allergy.
Yvette: Well it's a little different than an allergy, but for purposes of food, it's just keep it away from the food. When you see people, I saw a card on the internet, it's just was a forward that got sent around, this woman that went to restaurants with a card of her allergies. And here's the thing she claims, she was allergic to beans, including coffee beans. I'm like that's not even, that's not how this works. It was one of these, you can look at it and tell just by what they listed as allergies that they've read one too many food blogs and this was not, there might have been maybe one legit allergy in there, but there are so many that just were complete bunk. And I look at stuff like that and I go people are going to hear people who have legitimate allergies going into stores and go into restaurants and go, “Yeah, right. You're another person holding a card saying I'm allergic to all beans including coffee beans.”
Ben: Yeah. That makes sense. Now if you had to make a prediction, whether something coming from Vani the Food Babe, or anything else, including coffee enemas, what do you think is the next most unproven, or hyped up, or dangerous, or scientifically inaccurate trend or fad that's currently making its way down the health pipeline?
Yvette: Well I mean there's, I like to say I have a problem with the anti-GMO movement, and I of course have a problem with anti-vacc movement, but I'm not sure what's coming up soon. I've seen…
Ben: Are you currently working on an article about anything?
Yvette: Yes, I am. I'm working on one for Gawker talking about food labeling and what the labels on things made, like defining fresh and defining natural as far as it goes on food labeling 'cause I want people to know if they're buying something because they have all these labels on it. Some of these labels mean something, like they have legal definitions, and some of them are just advertising terms that mean nothing. So I want people to know about that, but I'm not sure what's going to be next down the organic pipeline of things that are allegedly going to save you from cancer. But every few years they seem to, I feel like we seem to swap every 10 years what we say are killing you and what things we say are good for you. Like at one point, it was a low fat diet. Now it's a low carb diet. Now it's a low toxin diet. And people are just, they're changing what they call a toxin depending on the day of the week. Like I think I told you before we started recording that I've heard the same foods described as both clean, and I guess the converse would be dirty, or unclean.
But I think this trend with toxin free and with clean eating eventually is going to come to a close after enough science gets out about GMOs and people are going to believe that they're not bad. I'm hoping people get to a point, I know this is very, not quite the question you asked, but I'm hoping we get to a point where people will see a claim made on line and really look behind the headlines and see if this is a really huge overblown claim. And they're claiming a scientific breakthrough and you're reading it in a tiny little blog that it might not be in line with accuracy, it might not be something that's selling you a product that doesn't have overblown claims. So I want people to look at this skeptically. I mean here's a question for you, what have you seen coming up down the fitness and health claims pipeline?
Ben: It's tricky but I would tend to agree with you on the natural flavorings or natural ingredients label because it's not well-defined. Well, can you give an example of something that would be considered a natural flavoring, or a natural ingredient that we would see in a health compound, or “healthy food” that really is not healthy.
Yvette: I'm still in the middle of writing that article. Do you want healthy or unhealthy?
Ben: Either one. Like a mistake that someone would make when grabbing something that says natural flavoring.
Yvette: Here's the thing, whenever you see “and natural flavors”, it generally means there's a mixture of spices. ‘Cause I mean I believe that when you're claiming natural flavoring, it just means that it was not a chemical that was made in a laboratory. So I don't believe that you can say “natural” unless it's an actual natural claim. Naturally occurring product I think is that the more accurate term for it than just plain old natural. But all of these things before they're added in have been through laboratory testing and whatnot. So I mean you're very rarely going to get a food additive that's unsafe because there is a huge amount of testing that goes into it before it can hit the market. But in terms of, like one of the things that Food Babe claims is that they're using, she calls it, she says they're using beaver butt to, she's a charmer, to flavor you know things that should be, I think either vanilla or rasberry flavored by using it as a flavor additive. It's very, very rarely used. It's called castoreum, I believe. And sometimes you'll hear that, like whenever the Food Babe see something with the term “natural flavors” on it, she automatically like goes and digs for the recipe and says, “It lists natural flavors, so it's bad.”
There are so many things on her don't eat lists that I think is confusing to consumers about what a healthy food looks like, or what a healthy, I hate to use this term, but a healthy processed looks like. I think the biggest thing people have to look out for, 'cause I mean one of the things I'll see is if you want natural to be better, some people are anti, whatchamacallit, they're anti-pasteurization with milk because it's not natural, and I don't think they look at the actual number of deaths and illnesses we had before we learned about pasteurization. So I mean even Vani says use or drink the unpasteurized milk, or raw milk as they call it. And that is one thing that I'll tell people, “Don't buy it.” Unless you saw it milked from the cow that day, don't get raw milk because it's way, way, way more likely to cause food poisoning. Again, just 'cause it's natural does not mean it's better.
Ben: Yeah. Well I mean that's what I, we keep our goats very clean. When my kids collect chicken eggs, I explain to them that they could get sick and die unless we're cleaning the poo and the pee off of those eggs. And we are literally getting this food ourselves 20 feet from our front door and still taking precautions. And I think that you are right. People who are simply using a rule that they will not consume a milk unless it is unpasteurized or they will not consume a food unless it is only flavored with natural flavorings don't realize that an unpasteurized milk or a free range egg can be full of bacteria and salmonella, and then literally poo and piss on the animal, and unnatural flavorings can essentially include any chemicals, whether derived in a laboratory or otherwise as long as the starting ingredient is from a natural source. And so I think that ultimately what this comes down to is having a good relationship with your food and knowing really where it came from. And that's why I think some people need to cook their food more, some people need to go to farmer's markets more, some people need to go buy the ingredients that they're putting into their bodies more rather than consuming packaged food just frankly so they can become more aware of what it is that they're eating.
Yvette: I agree with you in that. I'm a huge advocate of cooking for yourself and not buying everything prepackaged 'cause I think, number one, you're generally going to eat healthier. Because if you're cooking only for yourself, I hope you're not living on bacon, but it's an easy way to understand how many calories go into something, portion size and what not. And I think people really need to start, I guess, how to phrase this. I think if people will cook more of their own food, they're going to, like you said, they're going to have a better relationship with their food and probably going to have a better understanding of ingredients. Because here's the thing, if you're making your own food at home and you're adding in certain types of spices and seasonings, some of them aren't considered natural and they're still fine for you. Like I said, I think slapping natural on something is not enough because it doesn't have, like I said, it doesn't have a very good definition. But I guess that's one of my whole points is to look at the words they're using to advertise their product. I think having someone who tells you you can only, much like the Food Babe saying “you can only listen to me on these things”, she's missing a much bigger picture on health and nutrition.
Ben: You know, I think that there are many things, obviously, I would guess, that anyone who's listening to this podcast episode has gathered there are many things that you and I probably disagree on. And there are there obviously things that we agree on as well. And I want to make sure that if you are listening in, well two things. A.) I've been taking notes as we've been talking, and I'll have links to everything from the Public Library of Science, to the Science Based Medicine website, to TheNess neurological blog, to the natural ingredients in a blueberry, even my article on Bulletproof coffee enemas, as well as the SciBabe website. I'm going to put that all over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/sciencebabe. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/sciencebabe. And of course, the article “The Food Babe Blogger Is Full Of [censored]” on Gawker. I'll also put a link to that as well.
The second is that please understand that if you're listening in, my podcast really is, it's a pretty open platform for discussion. And so for example, if you think this is unfair and that we should have the Food Babe on to give her thoughts, or have Vani Hari on, or Dave Asprey on, or whoever else, I'm game. Send me their contact details or hooked me up with them, and I'm happy to talk to them as well. So please understand that I'm not trying to necessarily shove someone under the bus here and just give one person's opinion. And then I want to make sure that you as a listener know that I'm not out here with an agenda. I just would love to make you aware of all of the components of what's the argument here.
Yvette: Yeah. I want people understand I'm not attacking Vani Hari the human being. I don't know her. I don't know what she's like outside of work. I just know that I disagree with her business practices. So I want people to remember if I'm, and I think I'm pretty clear about this in my writing, if I'm having a go at someone, it's not the human being, it's that I want consumers to be protected from inaccurate information and not buy into something that overpriced because it's, as like to call 'em, either superfoods, or natural, or organic, I want people to know that it's okay to buy a conventionally grown, it's okay to have your pumpkin spice latte twice a year. There isn't some sort of huge big food agenda to make you eat certain things. You can buy vegetables and cook, and also occasionally have a cupcake.
Ben: And there you have it folks. So it's the Science Babe. Her website is SciBabe, that's scibabe.com. Her name, as difficult as it is to pronounce, just for bragging rights, I'm going to say it again, Yvette Guinevere d'Entremont. Did I do a good job?
Yvette: Nope. But I won't you hold it against…
Ben: I need to go have a pumpkin spice latte and get my blood sugar back up.
Yvette: Maybe have it via enema.
Ben: That's true. We could start a trend. Although I'm not going to shoot pasteurized milk up my butt. The URL for all the show notes is bengreenfieldfitness.com/sciencebabe. I understand you'll probably have some thoughts and some comments on this. Feel free to leave them over there. I will not ban or delete them. I promise. And thanks for listening in. And Yvette, thanks for your time today.
Yvette: Thank you for having me, Ben.
Ben: Alright, folks. Well this is the SciBabe and Ben Greenfield signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
I recently read an article on Gakwer entitled The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit.
It was written by today's podcast guest: Yvette d'Entremont.
Yvette, AKA “The Science Babe”, has bachelor's degrees in theatre and chemistry along with a master's degree in forensic science. With a background working as an analytical chemist, she currently runs the Science Babe website full time. Her site is an interesting mix of debunking pseudoscience with humor and science.
She lives in southern California with her stinky dog, Buddy (who makes a fun cameo in today's podcast). During our controversial discussion, you'll discover:
-Why Yvette thinks that chiropractic treatment is total BS…
-Why Yvette, in her post on the “Bullshitproof Diet“, calls Dave Asprey a Douchebag…
-How Yvette thinks that the Food Babe's Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte was blown way out of proportion…
-What Yvette thinks is the next most unproven, hyped up, dangerous or scientifically inaccurate trend or fad currently making it's way down the health pipeline…
-Why living by the rule “If a third grader can't pronounce it, don't eat it” is a dangerous rule to follow…
-The details behind the group on Facebook called “Banned By Food Babe” that boasts nearly 6,000 members…
-And much more…
Resources we discuss during this episode:
-The Gawker article The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit
I imagine that you probably have some thoughts about this podcast. Perhaps some strong thoughts. Leave your comments, questions and feedback below and I promise to reply!