Food Babe cuts with a sharp knife
US-born Vani Hari takes on industry biggies to eliminate toxic ingredients from their products; says fast food needs rehaul
She got Subway to remove azodicarbonamide (a food additive) from their sandwich bread. Vani Hari of Charlotte, North Carolina, is the food babe. Although Hari's family hails from Punjab, her parents moved to the US in the 60s and wanted to fit right in. "My only regret growing up was eating American fast-food to fit in. It is only later in my life that I started eating Indian food regularly," says Hari.
About a decade ago, as a fresh college graduate, Hari quickly fell into a routine eating catered food and as a result put on a lot of weight and fell ill. "I realised there is a correlation between what I eat and how I feel and I decided my health would be my first priority." A nationally ranked debater in school, Hari channeled her energiesBSE 4.99 % into researching food. "What I have found out has surprised me immensely."
She was urged to share her knowledge and that was how foodbabe.com began. With 7 million page views every month, Hari is being heard. From a local frozen yogurt chain to big names like Subway, Kraft, Chick-a-fil, Starbucks and more recently, pizza big-wigs like Domino's, Pizza Hut and Papa John's, she has tackled a variety of problems. "All these places add monosodium glutamate (MSG) to your food, which tricks your mind into craving more. So far no pizza company has reached out to me."
Kraft has different ingredients for the USA and the UK. All the harmful ingredients are taken out for the UK market, but not in the US. "This double-standard was maddening. We deserve better," Hari says. The most shocking revelation is that alcohol in the USA is not FDA-regulated and it has additives that are most upsetting. "I encourage corporations to reach out to me. They need to realise that I am not an enemy. I am just a voice of the people. Very recently, Starbucks reached out to me and wanted to set up a meeting and this transparency is a very welcome."
Hari quit her job as a management consultant last year to follow her passion for food. She also has a book coming out next year which promises some big surprises.