April 24, 2015

Popular Food Bloggers Get Busted For Inaccuracy

4.24 jaime

The health and wellness space has exploded in the last few years. Healthy eating, the whole food and the food as medicine movements have seen a massive uptick in popularity. Naturally, the Internet has responded in kind. The number of bloggers in this space has grown exponentially, and in many cases, book deals, endorsements and more have followed.

But in a burgeoning space with a slew of new voices keen to add their own two cents, are we too quick to buy into their theories and advice? Even as an (almost) all organic eater, alternative medicine enthusiast, green juice devotee myself,  I firmly believe it’s of the utmost importance to know where the information we’re getting is coming from, and not just blindly follow advice that promises clearer skin, better digestion, more energy and more.

Two food and health bloggers have recently come under fire for misrepresenting themselves and are serving as a sharp lesson for all Internet authors — with the worlds of journalism, nutrition and medical advice dangerously converging, it’s more important than ever to check your sources and blog responsibly!

Disgraced Australian blogger Belle Gibson amassed a huge social media and blog following, which she then leveraged with a book called “Whole Pantry” (along with an app and website of the same name). Gibson claimed that she had survived multiple forms of cancer using a healthy diet and alternative therapies, which we all recently found out was  complete fabrication. This week, the interview in which she came clean hits newsstands in Australian Women’s Weekly. Gibson confesses that “she is passionate about avoiding gluten, dairy and coffee, but doesn’t really understand how cancer works.”

Somewhat in the same vein, now much maligned blogger Vani Hari, aka “Food Babe,” shot to fame with a massive social media following and bestselling book claiming that you can change your life in 21 days by “breaking free of the hidden toxins in your life.” She’s given interviews in publications such as the New York Times and been on Dr. Oz and many other shows (the list is terrifying) – there’s no denying she has a voice in the space. There has recently been a slew of controversy surrounding Hari’s claims, brought to light by a Gawker op-ed written by an analytical chemist. The piece claims that Hari misappropriates pseudoscience terminology out of proper context, and uses fear tactics to lend legitimacy.

How did both of these women score major book deals, among many other endorsements, without anyone really checking out their credentials and stories? It’s chilling to think about, but it serves as a pertinent lesson to all content creators. While chiming in on relevant, trendy topics and publishing content that will resonate with audiences is doubtlessly important, lack of accuracy will always catch up with you. Think of it as a journalistic Hippocratic oath of content creation: Do no harm, check your facts!

(Photo: Carrots by flickr user USDA via Attribution 2.0 License)