There are so many ingredients on food labels that are unrecognizable to us. This likely means that they are unrecognizable to our bodies, as well–which means that they’re harming rather than helping us.
Vani Hari, known as the Food Babe, is a best-selling author and activist that is dedicated to uncovering what’s in our food and how it’s affecting us, so that we can be empowered in the supermarket, restaurant, and in our own kitchens, to nourish ourselves well.
She covers the importance of avoiding food dyes, “natural flavorings,” and refined sugars, as a starting place. She talks about the personal ramifications of going after the food industry and revealing its secrets…and why she remains undaunted. Lastly, she offers timely advice for feeding the family well and why, as far as she’s concerned, the 80/20 “rule” (eating well for 80% of the time) doesn’t cut it anymore.
Visit Vani’s website and look for her latest book “Food Babe Family”: foodbabe.com
Register for our Wise Traditions conference: wisetraditions.org
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Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda.
Additives in our food are intended to make it taste better, look better, or extend its shelf life. What additives don’t do is add any nutritional value. This is episode 442. Our guest is Vani Hari. Vani is known as the Food Babe. She’s the author of a number of books and the upcoming Food Babe Family as well as an activist for helping uncover ingredients in our food that might be making us sick.
She invites us to return to real food as she tells us her story which includes hitting rock bottom health-wise in her twenties. She points out exactly what ingredient speed bumps added to her health decline and which we should avoid, particularly for our children. She goes over the problematic stuff like food dyes, natural flavorings, and refined sugar that come under a variety of names on the ingredient list.
She talks about the result of the double standard in the food industry. For example, how US products include ingredients that would never be allowed in Europe, or if they did, they’d be coming with a warning label. Finally, Vani inspires with the victories she’s had over companies like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Kraft when it comes to including cleaner ingredients in their foods. She also explains why she thinks the 80/20 rule, eating well most of the time and letting 20% go, doesn’t work so well anymore.
Before we get into the conversation, I want to invite you to join us at the Wise Traditions Conference. It’s October 20th to the 22nd, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Catherine Austin Fitts will be there along with other top speakers, Alec Zeck, Tom Cowan, and Sally Fallon Morrell. I can’t wait to see you there. Go to Wise Traditions and sign up while there’s still time. It’s the conference that nourishes in every way. Join us. You’re tuning in to the show.
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Visit Vani’s website and look for her latest book “Food Babe Family”
Welcome to the show, Vani.
Thank you so much. It’s so exciting to be here because I’ve been tuning in to your show for years. I swear I’ve learned so much valuable information for my family, for my health, and for my friends’ health. I can’t thank you so much for your mission because you have such a diverse group of people here. I feel honored to be included as one of them.
It is our pleasure. We have been following your work for some time. We love that you’re knocking down the companies or at least calling them out on what they’re putting in their food that isn’t serving the general public. You have been going strong. We’re really thankful for all you’re doing, honestly.
I wanted to back up and have you tell me a little bit about your health story. It was when you realized that a certain food additive was bringing you down that I feel like your crusade began.
As a child, I was addicted to candy. I ate so much candy as a child. I knew every single kind of candy. I remember having a little secret hideaway in my living room and this little secret side table where I would store all my candy and organize it. For most of my life, I was addicted to sugar and processed foods. Both my parents came from India. When they came to the United States, they didn’t know much about the American food system. Most of us didn’t know much about the American food system as it was starting to become industrialized, so we all became victims of that new chemical dose that we started getting into our diets.
My parents thought, “This food is cheap. It’s fast. It’s available. If we’re going to live in America, we’re going to eat like Americans.” I grew up on a fast food diet. I grew up with all of the things that allowed my mother to make things that other American families were making, like the Betty Crocker, the Hamburger Helper, and the Salisbury steak you put in the microwave.
We had all of those convenience foods because both my parents were working parents. They were allowing that to be part of our staple diet. Even though my mom knew how to cook beautiful homemade, from-scratch Indian food with medicinal spices that are so healthy like her ancestors, she allowed me and my brother to eat the American food that was available.
When I was in my early twenties, I hit rock bottom. That’s when I ended up with endometriosis and appendicitis. It was when I got my appendix taken out that I had that a-ha moment. I was overweight. I felt bad about myself. I was in my early twenties. All I wanted to do was to go out, hang out with my friends, and have fun. I was in this hospital room recovering from my appendix being taken out.
It was such an awful recovery period. Most of the time, it takes 3 or 4 days to recover from something like that and then you take it easy for a couple of weeks. It took me a long time because my body was so inflamed from all the foods that I’d been eating. At the time, they said, “You don’t need your appendix. It’s not there for any reason. You can take it out. It’s not anything necessary to have in your body.” Why would God put it there? I don’t know, but I found out.
Your appendix is there for a reason. It populates your gut with good bacteria. It’s there for a reason. When it becomes inflamed, it’s because it’s completely getting doused with inflammatory substances like all of the different inflammatory oils I was eating and all the processed food I was eating. Those would be the corn, soy, and canola being grown with GMO seeds and being dowsed with glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Roundup. That’s been implicated in causing cancer in so many different court cases around the United States. This is something that was a mainstay of my diet.
When I figured out that, first of all, you do need your appendix and then that the foods that I was eating were causing it to be inflamed, I started to figure out, “What was I eating? What were the ingredients in what I was eating?” I started to look beyond the calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrate sugar levels of a food label or that nutrition label. I look beyond that and look at the ingredients.
When I found out the ingredients were things that I couldn’t pronounce and I had no idea why they were in the food, and I didn’t know if that was for a nutritional purpose or it wasn’t, which I wasn’t sure, I said “Let’s find out what this red dye 40 is, blue 1, blue 2, and red 3. Let’s find out what all this stuff means as well as yellow 5 and yellow 6.”
I found out that the majority of chemicals, like the ones I mentioned, were artificial food dyes made from petroleum. There are studies that show that not only do they cause inflammation in your body and affect your immune system but also can cause eczema and asthma, which I have been experiencing most of my life. I was on nine prescription drugs at one point in my life. I got off every single one of them when I switched my diet to real food.
It was that a-ha moment when I realized how these chemicals were produced and why they were put into the food. They were put into the food, not for a nutritional purpose. They were put into the food to make us think that processed food looked like real food or make fake food seem bright and colorful so we would be attracted to it. It was a marketing reason, not a nutritional reason.
I said to myself, “I don’t want to be part of that experiment anymore. I want to opt out of those chemicals. Those chemicals don’t belong in my body anymore.” I made the decision cold turkey one day, “I’m not going to eat any more artificial dyes.” That was probably one of the first chemicals that I removed from my diet along with trans fats, too. It was around that time that that’s when things started to shift.
It was on all the foods that I’d been eating and been accustomed to. The Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches had artificial dyes. The McDonald’s had artificial dyes. The Doritos that I would snack on had artificial dyes. The drinks that I would have had caramel coloring level IV that was made for ammonia, not made from the heat of sugar and making real caramel with butter. It was bad carcinogenic compounds that have been found by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to cause cancer in animal studies. This is the stuff that I gave up and I realized artificial dye was in everything.
That’s what I was going to say. It sounds like you had to avoid everything.
All of a sudden, I realized there are all these alternative foods available at these health food stores. I started to teach myself about them and these traditional foods. I had never heard about sprouting grains before or all of these ways to make your food more bioavailable and easier to digest. One of the first books that I read was Nourishing Traditions. It was this return to real food and to things that hadn’t been processed that allowed my body to heal itself.
I was living a life where I never had to diet. I was a normal weight. I felt good about myself. My skin was glowing. I had no eczema. I had no asthma. I was off all the prescription drugs. All I had to do was eat real food. At the time, I was still living this very unconventional lifestyle where I was working in this corporate environment, traveling on the road, and working for these C-level executives who were constantly catering food. They’re going out to lunch. They’re doing all these things.
I’m taking my cooler to the airport with me to Detroit and then finding an alternative restaurant that serves real food where they’re concerned about the ingredients. I’m going there and getting my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, sticking it in the office fridge, and warming it up. Back then, I was using the “microwave” to warm it up because I didn’t have any other mechanism. I learned about microwaves, too, like how horrible they are for your food.
It took time to figure all this out on how we should be eating our food, how we should prepare our food, and what we should be eating. It was this epiphany that allowed me to start Food Babe. It was because I was living in a time when we didn’t even have a Whole Foods in Charlotte. There was nothing here. There was no infrastructure. There was none of this information even on the web. The internet was ramping up. Social media was ramping up to the point where people weren’t talking about this on the web yet.
I was looking for this information and was like, “I need to start a blog and share what I’m doing.” I found out there is another community out there. I found all of these like-minded people out there. That’s when we started to grow this community which I call the Food Babe Army. They are people who not only care about their food and what they’re eating, but they care enough to go change the corporations, petition the corporations, meet me at the headquarters of these corporations, and ask for change.
As a result of starting Food Babe and then eventually quitting my day job and doing it full-time, we’ve been able to get several multibillion-dollar food corporations to change their ingredients for the better. It is everyone from Kraft to remove artificial food dyes from mac and cheese, Subway to remove all artificial ingredients and go antibiotic-free, Chick-fil-A to remove several chemicals from their food and also go antibiotic-free, and Starbucks to remove caramel coloring level IV from all of their drinks, including their famous pumpkin spice latte.
We are getting the beer manufacturers to tell us what’s in their beer because it was the one label that I had in my refrigerator that I didn’t know what was in it. Knowing everything that I had known about what had happened to food and how adulterated food was, I was like, “I know the beer manufacturers are using these same chemicals,” and they were. They were adding these addictive flavorings to beer to make it more addictive and for you to remember that taste and that flavor. I’m like, “Alcohol’s already addictive. Now, you’re adding in this flavor.”
People need to know what they’re drinking. They need to know that there are differences in the type of beer that you buy. It can be bad and have caramel coloring level IV to make the hops look darker than they should because they’re using fewer hops and trying to save money or they are drinking a beer that’s fermented correctly with the right ingredients.
This is what I’ve been doing for years. It’s been such a ride and a journey. One of the things that I have resonated with this Wise Traditions community is as much as we are about tradition, we are very much in the non-conventional space. There’s not a lot of people like us. We live in this modern world where the convenience of fast processed food is so attractive to people and it’s part of our culture.
This idea of going back to what nature provides is something that I feel needs to be shouted through the rooftops. What I appreciate about this community is you’ve been at the forefront of so many different attacks on your character and your mission because of the way you believe and the unconventional nature of standing against some of the practices during the pandemic and all of the things that you guys have done. I want to recognize that because going through those struggles is so hard when it’s happening. For me, it happened big time when huge budgets were given to trolls on the internet to take me down and leave no comment left behind.
I remember when I was starting campaigns to get Starbucks to change over to organic milk and what I called Monsanto milk. I call the regular milk Monsanto milk because that’s what it is. It’s all of these cows eating GMO grains all day long. Starbucks is a company that prides itself on being premium. I’m like, “You can serve organic milk.” We tried this campaign to try to get them to switch.
I remember that angered Monsanto so badly that they started a program that was called Leave No Comment Left Behind. They hired “independent-looking experts” who worked at universities to follow activists like myself around to different talks that we would give. We would be written about in a newspaper to attack that writer or to tell that writer, “You need to write a counterpoint story on this. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. These chemicals are fine. They’re healthy.” There was this one professor who never met a chemical he didn’t like. He defended every single chemical in the food system. It was laughable at the time.
Every time a huge newspaper would write about one of our campaigns, like getting Subway to remove the chemicals or Starbucks, or whatever, or I had a new book coming out so they would write a profile piece, these same cast of characters would show up. These characters were people like Fergus Clydesdale. At the time, the New York Times reporter didn’t think to ask these guys about their conflict of interest. God forbid. You think a New York Times reporter would do that work, but they didn’t.
This guy, Fergus Clydesdale, was on the board of what company? Sensient Technologies. What do they make? Caramel coloring level IV. He was getting paid a six-figure salary to be on the board of this company. He was getting quoted in the New York Times as an antagonist to me and saying that I don’t know what I’m talking about and these chemicals are fine in our food.
It was hard because I’ve got these guys with all of these credentials. There were these professors and PhD doctors coming after me. I’m this girl from Charlotte, North Carolina who changed around her health and doesn’t want anyone else to feel like she felt. That’s why I do this work. I was out here telling the truth about what’s been put in our food and I’m getting attacked. It was one of the hardest periods of my life.
I’m so glad I’ve realized the machine that’s out there to keep the status quo. That’s what allowed me to see the truth in the pandemic and why I appreciated your perspective so much on sharing what was happening with the way we were handling it, how to protect our immune systems, and what we should be doing. It allowed me to see the web behind the scenes about how PR is run through the media. I wrote a whole book about that, Feeding You Lies which was my second book, because I felt like it was so important.
If people know the playbook of how these corporations work and how they continue selling us their chemicals and their poisons, then they’ll understand how to decipher the media. It’s all paid-for-play, even podcasts you listen to. Some of my favorite podcasts are paid-to-play. They’re getting people to sell things on the podcast. It’s like, “They’re a sellout.” It makes me so sad to see.
People must know the playbook of how food corporations work. Many of them continue to sell us their chemicals and poisons.
Going through that period started an awakening for me. This is when I started Truvani, which is my organic supplement company. It allowed me to focus on my family, which has been amazing. I’ve been raising two kids. Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care was one of the first books I bought. It’s like my Bible to how I’ve raised my children. It’s been the most beautiful gift to me because I keep reading it. I gift it to other moms, which reminds me I need to send it to one of my friends who gave birth.
I’ve been breastfeeding my kids for seven years. I breastfed my daughter for 3 and a half years, and my son’s been going for almost 7 years. I had a little break in there where she stopped breastfeeding all on her own for a couple of months before I gave birth, but that was it. That was my only break. I’ve been sticking to those traditions as fast as possible.
Coming up, Vani continues to dive into what to look for and why on the ingredient list of the food we feed our children.
I wanted to write a book about this. My latest book Food Babe Family is coming out in October 2023. It’s my manifesto to how I raise my kids and how I’ve used this information in a practical way on how to navigate living in this overprocessed world where our kids are constantly being exposed to all of these toxins all the time at schools, at parties, while traveling, and everything we’re doing.
You are getting the word out. You have been at this for so long. We commend you. We’re grateful for the ways in which you’ve brought attention to the chemical additives that we’re consuming that we’re not even aware of. You could decide, “I’m going to feed my family at home and forget about the rest,” but you’re concerned for the general public that’s out there who is sipping those Starbucks pumpkin smoothies or whatever it is. Everyone’s having all these things without realizing how it’s affecting their health.
Let’s drill down on the terrible ten ingredients that we should watch out for in our kids’ food. You probably know since you’ve been following the Wise Traditions folks that principle number one of the Wise Traditions dietary lifestyle is to consume no refined or overly processed foods. Dr. Price knew this many years ago, and here we are surrounded by even more hugely processed and refined foods. I want the parents who are clued in to have an even greater understanding of what they should be avoiding when they’re going down that supermarket aisle.
I have this list of the terrible ten in the Food Babe Family. I go through it and I tell you why exactly you should be avoiding it. One of the first ones is refined sugar. Refined sugar is something that is completely stripped of all of its minerals and vitamins. It’s there for the sole purpose of making food more addictive, especially processed food.
It’s one of those things that I feel like you can always see in kids’ foods. Even in organic food that you find and in some of the health food stores, they’re adding a lot of organic cane sugar. They’ll have five different labels that don’t say sugar but are sugar, like fruit juice concentrate, tapioca syrup, glucose, and dextrose. You see all of these things on the label, even raisin juice concentrate.
Some are better than others, but these are a way for manufacturers not to make sugar the number one ingredient on the ingredient label because ingredients are listed by the weight they have in the product or how much they are in the product. They don’t want to make cane sugar number one so they use a bunch of different other substitutes for sugar. They can have whole grain oats first and then have all the different sugars labeled after that so that people aren’t off-put by the product.
This is another marketing gimmick that people use. When you see tapioca starch in a product a lot of times, that is a sugar that’s added, but it’s not labeled as sugar per the FDA. This is a way that food manufacturers add sugar starch to a product without adding sugar grams to the product. This was something that happened in the creation of our Truvani Only Bar. I was creating this bar where I wanted it to feel like you were eating it with something you had made in your own kitchen, like the ingredients that you would have in your own kitchen. I have dates and maple syrup as the binder for it. There’s no other refined sugar in it.
The bar manufacturer that we were working with was like, “You can have fewer grams of sugar on the label if you use tapioca starch.” I’m like, “It still tastes sweet. It still spikes your blood sugar insulin the same. Why would I try to trick people by using this other processed ingredient when I would be able to use something like maple syrup that comes from the earth and has vitamins, minerals, and some nutritional purpose to it?”
That’s the first thing that I would avoid. Not to mention, there have been numerous studies that show an influx of sugar and that spike in blood insulin levels affects children’s brains. It affects their development. It affects their immune system. All of those reasons are the reason why I would remove refined sugar.
Numerous studies show an influx of sugar and a spike in blood insulin levels affect children’s brains and development. This is one of the reasons why you stop consuming refined sugar.
The other thing I would remove is MSG and hidden MSG additives. These are things that are autolyzed yeast extract or natural flavors. Natural flavors can mean thousands of different chemicals behind that one label because the FDA doesn’t require the food manufacturers to tell you the chemicals they’re using in that natural flavor.
This is an ingredient that if you removed natural flavor from your pantry, you would probably eliminate 90% of the really bad stuff out there because you are going to be eliminating the refined sugar and the other things that are out there. Natural flavor is pretty much added to almost everything because they want food to taste like real food that can sit on a shelf for 9 and 12 months at a time, even longer sometimes. They want it to taste so good that you remember that flavor and you keep coming back to that product.
Think about why a blueberry is so different every single time you eat it. Sometimes, they’re sweet. Sometimes, they’re sour. They’re different. I think about when I feed my kids blueberries every day, they’re getting a different blueberry every day, so their bodies and their taste buds are getting completely trained to know that blueberries are not going to taste the same all the time.
Let’s say I gave them a blueberry Nutri-Grain bar every single day, their taste buds would get trained to only like that flavor. They wouldn’t be open to exploring different flavors, textures, and versions of food. That’s the problem with processed foods. They’re manufactured to taste the same every single time whereas real food tastes different every single time. You don’t remember that flavor.
When I make a homemade sandwich from meat that I cured, meat that I roasted, or anything like that, that’s going to taste different every single time because my oven may be hotter one day and it might be a different temperature or I might use a little less seasoning, or whatever. It’s going to taste different every time.
If I think about what a McDonald’s hamburger tastes like or a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich tastes like, it’s wired in my brain. I remember that flavor. I can even smell it on my lips. It’s so potent in terms of how they manufacture that addictive quality to that food. That’s what they’re using. They’re using MSG, which, in the case of MSG, they are using in Chick-fil-A, or they’re using MSG additives in the case of McDonald’s and others in these processed foods. Eliminating that and allowing your child’s taste buds not to be hijacked by the food industry is a huge improvement in their diet.
The thing is that we see labels, natural flavorings, or natural flavors all the time. It’s a cover-up. We have no idea what it’s referring to, and it sounds so good.
We could have a whole show on natural flavor and what it really means. I already mentioned artificial dyes and why that’s so important. One of the things that really angers me about artificial dyes is overseas, the same American companies that sell US products here in the United States have decided to remove artificial dyes in citizens overseas because their governments regulate artificial food dyes and think that it should contain a warning label.
When you see a product in Europe that has artificial dyes, it has the warning label, “May cause adverse effects on activity and attention in children.” Here in the United States, we don’t get that warning label because our government is asleep at the wheel. They have to prove a product and a chemical are safe in order to put it in products in Europe. When you go to Europe, you won’t see anything with artificial food dyes because food manufacturers don’t want to put that label on there.
Kellogg’s, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Mills, and all of these giant food conglomerates have learned to make their products without these petroleum-based dyes all over the globe, but not for their own American citizens. This hypocrisy and this unethical behavior that they have maddens me to the point where I’ve started so many petitions based on this mere fact alone. For example, Kellogg’s committed in 2015 after I started a petition to remove artificial food dyes by 2018. I’m like, “That’s three years. You already have the formula. You’re already using it overseas. Why is it going to take you three years?”
That’s a good point.
They didn’t do it. Instead, they started to create new cereals like Baby Shark and Unicorn to get the kids who are hip to those kinds of concepts to get addicted to cereal. They were using new ingredients, which are also artificial food dyes. Instead of removing the artificial food dyes, which they said they would, they created new cereals.
They still sell Fruit Loops with artificial food dyes here in America even though they committed to do it. Not only are they liars, but they’re one of the worst companies out there because they are targeting children with the worst ingredients, which are all the ones I’ve already mentioned. That’s natural flavor, refined sugar, and artificial food dyes, all three, to have that first thing in the morning every single day.
It’s worth pausing on that. It’s how most kids start their day. We’re part of a unique community. Not everyone is aware. They’re doing the best they can. They’re thinking, “This is quick and easy. It has a cute cartoon character. Maybe this product has a little less sugar than the one next to it on the shelf. I’m doing my family a favor.” I’m so glad you’re raising awareness. You were talking earlier about the US government. Is it true that the FDA allows for over 10,000 chemical additives in our food even before they’re proven safe?
Yes. There is this idea that the FDA is there with thousands of people. They’re testing these chemicals, looking at the data, doing all the research, and then they decide to see if they’re safe or not. That’s not what happens. The FDA is a very slim organization. It doesn’t have a lot of people. They don’t even have the capability to research and look into a lot of these additives that are approved for use in our food. What happens is the companies who create the chemical and the companies who want to use the chemical in their food are the ones who submit the data to the FDA to get it rubber-stamped. It’s unfortunate that there’s not a lot of oversight on these chemicals.
A lot of these chemicals have been deemed very problematic to human health after the fact. I can think of so many. For example, trans fats. Trans fats were linked to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths every single year. This is something that was allowed in our food system. The FDA finally had to be sued and trans fats finally were banned. What did food manufacturers do? They had to find a substitute.
Trans fat was linked to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths every single year. Sadly, this is something that was allowed in our food system.
They found this substitute called monoglycerides, and it acts like trans fats in our bodies. When you see monoglycerides on all of these bad products and other things that keep food and fat from breaking down, that’s doing the same thing in your body. It’s clogging up your arteries like that. It’s got minute amounts of trans fat in it as well. You’ve got ingredients like red 3. Red 3 is one that they banned in cosmetics because it caused cancer in lab animals. The maraschino cherry industry which made the little red cherries for all the alcohol products lobbied the FDA to not get it removed from food. They allow red 3 in food but not in cosmetics.
I always wondered how those cherries were so unnaturally red. That’s crazy. All these products have a cumulative effect on the body. It’s not that there are MSG or MSG-like additives in our food. There’s that, and then the refined sugars and then the artificial dyes. It’s all adding up to a toxic situation. You suffered issues with your appendix and other things, but daily people have headaches, migraines, anxiety, and depression and they don’t know what it’s related to. Could it be stemming from some of these food additives and ingredients?
Every single one of these additives is pretty much getting detoxed in the liver. Your liver needs to work correctly in order to make all the other functions in your body work correctly. Knowing how I felt depressed, overweight, and feeling awful about myself, knowing all of the things that were happening to me when I was on this diet, and knowing how I felt versus how I feel now, I know that they have a tremendous impact on about every function of your body.
For me, going back to real food and eliminating these chemicals is one of the easiest ways to start feeling well. I was watching something that talked about this. It was so interesting why there’s such a debate about diets. The paleo folks are gung-ho and the vegan folks are gung-ho about how they feel and how they feel great eating their kale or eating their meat. It’s because both groups have eliminated most processed foods when they go so hardcore on one side or the other.
I’ve been on both sides. At one point, I had to go vegan in order to survive because I was learning too much about how our industrial food was made and how all the meat was raised. I was like, “When I’m on the road, I’m going to be vegan.” It was the safest thing to do, but then, long-term, that doesn’t make sense. For me, what I’ve realized is out of all the diet debates out there, the one that can’t be argued, in my opinion, is to remove processed foods.
That’s principle number one of the Wise Tradition’s dietary lifestyle. It is to get rid of that stuff. You’re right, and then you’re 90% of the way there.
I’m curious if you know the answer to this question because you’re so knowledgeable about Weston A. Price. What were some of the processed foods many years ago?
Some of them are the same as they are now. It was the refined flour, the refined sugar, and canned foods that were highly processed, which I don’t mean the home canning process. I mean in little aluminum cans, and then the oils. Even back then, he was seeing the deleterious effects of those oils. It is those four, and they’re still around and even in greater numbers.
There’s been a big push about the seed oils and I’m so thankful. It’s more insidious because everything you pick up, even if you think it says organic, heart-healthy, or natural on the label, if you look closely, you’ll find these seed oils, canola, sunflower, and safflower. It’s stuff that’s difficult for the body to navigate. It can lead to oxidative stress and all kinds of diseases. Those are the four that Dr. Price noted in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
I was doing a survey of the organic snack bars at the market. I couldn’t believe it. You’re right. Everything either had sunflower, canola, soy, or corn oil in it. Nothing had organic coconut oil. They didn’t have grass-fed butter. We were traveling and they had duck-fat French fries on the menu. I was like, “This is going to be amazing. I’m getting these French fries.”
Before I knew it, I was like, “These are the French fries that they sent to room service by accident.” We ordered room service the night before and they sent them by accident. I grabbed one and was like, “This is the best French fry I’ve ever had.” It was because it was duck-fat French fries. They were amazing. When you make things the traditional way, they taste better, too.
I have a couple of questions before we wrap up. Do people ever say to you, “You’re going too far. Every little ingredient can’t be that bad for us?” What do you say to the skeptic who thinks, “I’m doing the best I can.” Is 80/20 good enough?
The way that these chemicals work in your body to keep you addicted to the flavor of processed foods, I’m not sure 80/20 works. The 20% that you are eating, the Domino’s, the Doritos, and the other stuff out there that’s full of these chemicals, will continue to disrupt your taste buds. It will disrupt your gut too, your gut bacteria. You’re going to be constantly exposing yourself to glyphosate. That’s in the majority of processed foods. I don’t think that you can survive that way. You have to make a commitment to what you’re willing to eliminate in your diet.
When someone meets me for the first time, invites me to dinner, or wants me to have a meal with them, they worry that I’m super strict about what I’m eating because I talk about this for a living. I’m not super strict about what I’m eating as long as it’s homemade and as long as it’s made with real ingredients. I love a cake made with butter and eggs in corn flour or sprouted whole wheat flour that’s glyphosate-free. I found this awesome brand, One Degree, that makes this big bag of it. I’m like, “That’s fantastic for a cake.” That’s great. I want to eat cake. I want to have croissants. I want to have pizza in my life. I want to eat all of these things, but make it homemade and make it with good ingredients.
When you decide to eat out, you’re eliminating that control of those ingredients. You do have to look the other way, and I do, but eating out is not a regular part of my diet unless I’m traveling. Even when I’m traveling, I’m trying to stay in a place that has a kitchen or access to something like that. A lot of times, it may not happen.
Another love of mine is travel. I’ve had to try to figure out, “What snacks can I bring? What can I do? What can I educate the hotel on or where I’m staying to make something a more traditional way than what they’ve made? Do I tell them in advance, ‘My kids don’t eat artificial dyes, so don’t stock our hotel room with little treats made with artificial dyes.’” A lot of times, when you have little kids, they want to surprise them with lollipops or this or that. Tell them in advance. That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s been awesome because instead, they’ll put fun toys in there for them or set up a little camp or something interesting where they’re more engaged than a piece of food.
The foundation has a twelve-spoon restaurant rating project. Its purpose in part is exactly what you’re saying. It is to influence the chefs and the owners of the restaurants to use better ingredients. We give them a spoon, which is like the Michelin stars, depending on how Wise Traditions-friendly it is. Are they using broth? Are they making most of their ingredients from scratch? Are they using the ingredients in-house and so forth? It’s a beautiful thing. I appreciate what you’re doing there on a personal level. I want to pose to you the question that we often pose at the end here. If the audience could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do?
Eliminate processed foods. It’s the key. Also, start cooking. I had to teach myself how to cook in my early twenties. My parents didn’t want me in the kitchen. They wanted me to learn math and science. They were Indians. They were like, “You are going to learn this. You’re going to be a student.” They were very demanding that way. They’re both teachers. I wasn’t allowed to learn practical lifestyle skills.
I’m teaching my kids the opposite. I’m like, “You need to learn how to cook now because this is going to be a skill that’s going to affect your health forever.” I wish people would recognize the skill of learning how to cook and how to prepare real food is one of the best skills you’ll ever have. It will not only allow you to eliminate processed foods but also, you’ll realize how important it is to feed yourself good food.
Learning how to cook is one of the best skills you will ever have. It will not only allow you to eliminate processed food but also make you realize how important it is to feed yourself good food.
It will serve you for the rest of your life. Thank you for this conversation. It’s been inspiring.
Thank you so much.
Our guest was Vani Hari. Go to Food Babe to learn more. You can find me at Holistic Hilda. Here is a review from Apple Podcasts. BQBerry said, “This new insight every time. I’ve learned so much from this show. My health has improved and so has my family’s as we’ve implemented changes in our lives based on the recommendations. Thank you for always asking the questions I want answered.”
You are so welcome, BQBerry. It is my pleasure. We are here to serve you. You, too, can rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or simply share a link to your favorite episode with your family and friends. Thank you for tuning in. Stay well, and remember to keep your feet on the ground and your face to the sun.
About Vani Hari
Vani Hari is a revolutionary food activist, a New York Times best-selling author, co-founder of the organic food brand Truvani, and was named one of the “Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time magazine. Hari started FoodBabe.com to spread information about what is really in the American food supply. She teaches people how to make the right purchasing decisions at the grocery store, how to live an organic lifestyle, and how to travel healthfully around the world. Visit her online at: foodbabe.com
- Vani Hari
- Food Babe Family
- Wise Traditions
- Optimal Carnivore – Amazon
- Holistic Hilda
- Apple Podcasts – Wise Traditions
- Nourishing Traditions
- Feeding You Lies
- Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration