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Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry's Playbook and Reclaim Your Health Hardcover – February 19, 2019
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From the Publisher
IT'S NOT LIKE ANY DIET OR HEALTH BOOK YOU'VE EVER READ
From the very start, Vani Hari’s mission has been simple: to tell people the truth about the food they’re eating. But it’s not enough to just tell people about the ingredients that were making them sick – if she was going to help fix the system, Vani also needed to expose the lies that kept the status quo in place. She needed to give people the ability to see through these lies so they can make informed choices about the food they are eating and feeding to their families.
Feeding You Lies gives you actionable steps that protect you from cheap, processed, unhealthy foods and the health problems and suffering they cause. It provides you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and will help you overcome the obstacles standing in the way of you taking greater responsibility for your health.
This book is inspired by people like you, people who are trying to take the best care of themselves and become informed about the food we eat.
Take control of your life - and change it for the better.
— Mark Hyman, M.D., #1 New York Times best-selling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? and director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine
“A tangled web of deception is unraveled in this provocative page-turner! My eyes are now wide open thanks to Vani’s tireless investigative work to expose the truth about the food we eat.”
— Lewis Howes, New York Times best-selling author of The School of Greatness
“With all the wrongdoings exposed in this book, it’s no wonder that so many are confused about what to eat! You’ll never walk into a grocery store with the same outlook after learning the revealing information presented in this thoughtful read.”
— Frank Lipman, M.D., New York Times best-selling author of The New Health Rules and How to Be Well
“Our food is making many of us fat, sick, and miserable; but it’s making certain companies billions of dollars. To us, the fact that disease rates are skyrocketing is a matter of life or death; but to them, it’s just a PR problem. This magnificent book by the courageous and brilliant food activist Vani Hari shows you how to see through the lies, how to know the truth about what you are eating, and how to feed yourself and your family foods that will truly nourish your body, your mind, and your spirit.”
— John Robbins, co-founder and president of Food Revolution Network and best-selling author of Diet for a New America
“The tobacco industry survived for decades by marketing ‘doubt as our product.’ Big Food is following in their footsteps. I am grateful to Vani Hari for exposing the abuse of trust and the descending health of the public at the hands of Big Food. Her simple Three Question Detox is a platform to upgrade the health of your family. Everyone should read this book.”
— Joel Kahn, M.D., FACC, clinical professor of medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, and author of The Plant-Based Solution
About the Author
Hari has influenced how major food giants like Kraft, General Mills, Subway, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks create their products, steering them toward more healthful policies. Hari's activism has brought in worldwide attention as she has been profiled in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. Hari has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and CNN. She lives in North Carolina and also is the founder of Truvani, a start-up offering real food without added chemicals, products without toxins and labels without lies.
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However, I’m mentioned prominently throughout the text, portrayed as an industry insider, paid to harass her and derail her efforts to rid the world of molecules with names we can’t pronounce. On her press junkets she spins wild tales of being a victim, targeted by a concerted effort between me and evil corporations to destroy her credibility. There really was no such thing.
Hari used the Freedom of Information Act to gather tens of thousands of my emails at taxpayer expense—and found nothing. Zero. But instead of saying that in her book, she manufactured false stories and associations, picking out sentences just to paint me in a negative light. We’ll get back to that.
What I Like. I could rightfully be cranky and write a scathing one-star review just to be a vengeful dick, and it would be probably considered appropriate.
But instead I’m going to use this opportunity to be honest in my assessment of her work, and hope that it inspires her to consider higher angels in her endeavors going forward.
First, I didn’t hate the book. It was an easy read and I was able to pound through it in a four hour flight and a couple of breaks from yard work. It falls into four clunky non-flowing parts, one which I sorta like. Let’s start there.
In her heart Hari has the same goals and interests that I do, to help guide people to more healthy diets and better health. When she speaks about the quality of calories, about being aware of processed sugar, about cooking at home—we are on the same page. We both love a farmers market and believe in eating fresh, local produce. We both note the odd vilification of gluten, and both seem to despise dietary fads, and products that lead with bogus claims and unhealthy weight-loss strategies.
That was one chunk of the book. That part, and the rest of it were generally well written, sort of referenced (selectively omitting anything that didn’t support her position even if it reflected scientific consensus).
Spinning Out. The book’s agreeable center is flanked by tired conspiratorial nonsense, as Hari gets out yarn, stick pins and a corkboard and constructs tenuous connections between her critics, through circuitous avenues, over hill and dale, across family trees and geological time, to (wait for it) MONSANTO.
Yes, she believes that Monsanto and other companies see her as a threat to their bottom line, so they commissioned a squadron of paid non-company scientists, independent folks like me, to harass her. There’s a degree of strange narcissism there.
What academics and industry scientists actually object to are the strong-armed tactics she used to bully and intimidate to drive irrational, emotional, and unnecessary change. If the goal is healthier food we should do that through education and objective assessment of risk, not threats and social media smear campaigns against critics and companies. I’ve always been critical of her because I despise abandoning science and evidence and forcing change via fear and misinformation. That’s exactly what she did, she’s proud of her accomplishments, and she should be criticized for it. That’s not Monsanto. That’s objective, scientific criticism.
The sad part is the pettiness of it all. Her book harvests information from my private emails, such as how I tried to connect with a popular podcast to talk about food and farming. This is not a scandal, it is normal, yet she uses access to my private email to parade my personal business in full light. That’s not what public records requests are for, and she should be admonished for it.
Warped. I’ll focus on the section about me, since I know that the best. She lists a page of presentations I provided, various events around the country. She then lists the sponsors of the event, typically companies that help foot the bill and keep registration costs low. You can read the list (it comes from my website) and see my talks and the companies that sponsored the meeting. She implies that the companies must control what I say, and that I am paid by the companies (she said that on a podcast interview). However, at most of these I spoke about revising our communication, and if I was paid an honorarium it went to my outreach program to pay for assembling and mailing science fair kits. It is a great example of how she does not ask questions, but is happy to vilify someone innocent to build her crazy perception of conspiracy.
Bad Information. If she was a threat to anything it was a threat to public perception about food safety. She also threatens the poor in a way she does not realize. Throughout her book she gives accolades to the Environmental Working Group and praises their “dirty dozen” list. This is the list where pesticide residue amounts are distorted, and risk is manufactured from nothing.
When you tell people that their fruits and vegetables are poison so only eat organic produce, something horrible happens. The affluent buy organic fruits and vegetables, which is fine, as I’m glad to see organic farmers cash in on consumer credulity. But many people in of our inner cities and rural areas often have no (or extremely limited) access to fresh fruits and vegetables. When they do have access it is conventional produce, maybe at a Dollar General, convenience mart or small independent grocer. Selection may be extremely limited, and there certainly is no boutique organic produce.
Someone following Hari’s guidance has a choice between “poison” and nothing. A true believer acting in the best interests of her family will make precautionary decisions, as the rhetoric of charismatic food activists like Hari scares them away from safe, fresh fruits and vegetables, the foods we should be consuming more frequently.
Pride in Accomplishments. She proudly discusses the changes that she inspired in companies, removing ingredients from their products. She goes down the litany of her coerced successes, yoga matt bread, beaver butts and artificial colors and additives. These stories are nothing new.
The basic theme of the book is that she takes a position, and if anyone criticizes that position they must be a paid stooge of corporate ag. It is an endless romp of six-degrees-of-monsanto, and is tired if not boring.
There are factual errors throughout the book, and lots of disparaging statements about conventional farming and ranching. You can read these at #FoltaReadsHari on Twitter.
Filler. The last 100 pages (of about 300) are a 48-hour detox (which I will not read), an appendix of terms (most people can’t pronounce) and an index.
Synthesis. Fans of Hari will find little new here. It is a lot of revisiting her past “successes” and then blaming a corporate cabal for her shortcomings and her decreasing impact. It is in essence waving a white flag to make gross false associations about others, waste public money for personal gain, and fall on a sword again and again to rehabilitate a well-earned poor scientific reputation and stoke favor with a slim cadre of ravenous supporters. It is the irony of Feeding You Lies, as time will show that Hari is the one saying, “Open up wide.”
First, I'll start with what I didn't like. Then I'll tell you what I loved about it.
What I Didn't Like:
There's a lot of helpful action steps on how to reclaim your health. This may be a benefit to some, but it was lost on me as I already have a plan in place. If you don't have a plan, I could see why you'd want this... but for me... the step-by-step stuff was something I skipped over.
What I Loved:
I really appreciate the investigation. I had no idea how bad Big Food / Big Soda acted until I first encountered Vani, and the more I learn, the more surprised I get. And now, that I'm behind the scenes making some of these products alongside her, I see how bad it really is...
Either way, if you're interested in health and food, this is a great book to read. And I recommend it.
Top international reviews
Now I eat cleanly to avoid further damage and to rebuild my digestive tract. Vani Hari's book is a blueprint for me to make sure I am doing it right, at last. I learned so much from Hari when I thought I knew a lot already. Turns out the food industry is a tricky beast and they simply aren't putting our health first. Turns out that sales numbers and bottom lines are the most important thing to corporations and, to them, we are simply sheepish consumers who can be led down the garden path.
Who knew that natural flavours are anything but natural in the way you might think? I sure didn't. The listing of food additives and preservatives at the end of this book is a resource I will turn to again and again to keep me mindful to stay well away from all the pretty packages full of ick. Now I eat a mostly-organic mostly-vegan diet that I cook for myself and my family -- and my cravings for sugary junk food have disappeared at last! I love eating this way, my meals are delicious and satisfying and surprisingly easy to prepare. I enjoy reading labels now! It's like a game called Can't Fool Me Now! (I put a lot of food items back on the shelf.)
Thanks to Vani Hari I no longer leave my health in the hands of so-called "experts", government agencies and corporations that have failed to put my best interests at heart. I investigate everything I consume and decide for myself now. (It's too bad so much vigilance is necessary but good health is number one on my list of priorities; I have found it gets easier over time, and fairly quickly too, once new eating habits are established) I highly recommend this book to all who seek the truth and the path to better health.