Organic Consumers Association

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Van Hari: A Woman on a Mission to Change the Food Industry

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

Vani Hari, better known as "Food Babe," is a blogger and food activist in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her blog,, and her "leading by example" style of activism is an inspiration to a growing number of people not just in the US but around the world.

One of her most celebrated achievements is her participation in the Democratic National Convention, in which she drew massive media attention by standing up with a makeshift "Label GMOs" sign in the front row, during Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack's speech.

This interview was taped a week after the March Against Monsanto where I participated in one of the local marches and had a chance to witness first-hand people working in the activist movement. It really helped me understand that there's a widespread opportunity for virtually anyone to participate, get inspired, and to really make a difference.

Vani's personal story is a perfect example of just how influential a single person can be, not just in educating others, but also in enticing major food chains to do the right thing and make positive changes.

The Painful 'Birth' of a Food Activist

Perhaps she was destined for the role of the activist, as her name actually means "voice" in Hindi. Indeed, a nationally ranked debater during her school years, Vani does not shy away from voicing her beliefs and sharing her ideals, and there's little doubt the world is becoming better for it.

"Shortly after college, realizing that debate wasn't really going to get me a job, I ended up switching my major to computer science and did what everybody else did. I entered the rat race," she says.

"I got picked up by one of the top consulting firms in the country... managing large-scale projects, mergers, acquisitions, and integration work. I was travelling Sunday through Thursday, and quickly, at the age of 22 to 23 years old, I became really sick...

It was that life-changing moment that I realized, 'Wait a minute, I gained 25 to 30 pounds within a three-month period, and then I had appendicitis?' There's something seriously wrong with what I've been doing and what I've been eating. What's in the food, and what caused my body to be so out of whack?

Everyone says appendicitis is this random occurrence... But I don't think it's random, because it's definitely related to your digestive system. And I was overloading my digestive system with tons of toxins."

So, when she was 22, Vani made the decision to make her health her number one priority, vowing not to let work get in the way. By doing her own homework, she quickly realized that, first of all, not all calories are created equal-a concept clearly described by Dr. Robert Lustig, who states that fructose is "isocaloric but not isometabolic."        

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