Vani Hari’s followers hail her as a savior of food activism who reaches hundreds of thousands of readers eager for straight talk on the American processed-food machine.
But in interviews with food-policy advocates and academics, she is criticized for sensationalized and overblown claims. Other activists say she takes more credit than she deserves. And in some cases, the Charlotte Observer found evidence of errors and inconsistencies.
As Charlotte’s self-titled “Food Babe,” Hari’s blog is becoming known all over the country for campaigns against food companies. Harnessing supporters she calls her army, she has pressured Kraft over food dyes, gotten Subway to remove a controversial dough conditioner from its breads and convinced two large beer makers to make their ingredient lists public.
Hari says she is simply trying to help people understand what’s in their food and hold companies accountable. She says she has researched her critics and that they attack anyone who opposes alternative nutrition.