How did I come up with the name “Farm Babe”? It’s a question I get often. Self proclaimed? Do men’s wives feel uncomfortable when they talk to them about the Farm Babe?
Ha, not quite! The story behind this name is G-rated, unexpected, and innocent, really. Here’s the story:
Back in 2015, a Facebook friend was sharing articles on her page from a blogger who calls herself the “Food Babe.” My friend had become a pretty big fan of hers, but the more I read from this blogger, the more frustrated I became with the misinformation she was spreading. She was promoting eating only organic, that GMOs were drenched in toxic chemicals, etc. … basically, if you weren’t buying what she was selling, you were a terrible person who was poisoning your family.
I checked out the Food Babe on her Facebook page. Wow! I couldn’t believe my eyes how much she was spreading point-blank lies. How ugly! Frustrated, I politely commented on one of her posts. She was explaining how toxic GMOs were, and I explained how we are farmers who grow GMOs and care greatly about your health! I talked about how GMOs have allowed us to minimize pesticide use and how helpful they’ve been to us in our fields.
Rather than engage with me, she blocked and banned me from her page within about 30 seconds of posting! What? It was the first time I had ever visited or commented on her page. It was actually the first time anyone had blocked or banned me from a page, ever. I then managed to find a Facebook group called, Banned by Food Babe, which boasts nearly TEN THOUSAND members! I had read a thread of how and why people were banned. The thread was full of good people — scientists, farmers, veterinarians, agronomists, food safety experts. All people who know a thing or two about food and farming. Why on Earth were they silenced? Meanwhile, self-taught Charlotte, North Carolina, resident Vani Hari, the real name of “Food Babe,” has a degree in computer science and has never been a farmer; not a very credible resource.
It dawned on me that the Food Babe was not at all interested in facts — she only cared about pushing her agenda of selling her products and didn’t want to be proven wrong. So that’s when I decided to start my own page and called it the Farm Babe. A spin-off of the name “Food Babe.”
I wasn’t alone. I discovered so many other Facebook pages that were trying to do the same thing and debunk her misinformation. Some were satire and just for fun, like the “Food Hunk,” the “Fast Food Babe” or the “Chow Babe.” Others are now more serious, like registered dietitian “Nutrition Babe,” food scientist the “Food Science Babe,” Biology Babe, Swine Babe, or the SciBabe.
When I started my page, I didn’t think it would amount to much. For me it was a creative outlet to talk about what we were doing on the farm without bogging down my personal page’s newsfeed too much. I wanted to debunk misinformation and thought maybe I’d get 1,000 followers or something, nothing too crazy.
Fast forward to now, and I’m so glad I did! I now reach between 2 million and 3 million people per month across my social media platforms of nearly 200,000 followers. It’s given me a full time career as an international keynote speaker across three continents, a writer, and an online influencer. It just goes to show that sometimes when you stand up for science and what you believe in, it really can pay off.
People want the facts, and they don’t want to be duped. You can only lie and mislead for so long before people realize you’re a con artist. Take for example, the hashtag #visitafarmfoodbabe on Twitter. Several years ago, when Food Babe was arguably in her online prime, she was readily debunked, but farmers genuinely wanted to have her visit their farms. Farmers everywhere offered to pay her to come visit so they could show and teach her the real facts about food from farms and how it’s grown. Food Babe ignored every request.
Another great example came from Yvette Ross, (formerly known as Yvette d’Entremont) who wrote an article on Gawker titled, “The Food Babe Blogger is Full of Shit,” which quickly ended up received nearly 6 million hits in a very short time and virally landed her on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.
Yeah, people don’t like to be lied to, and the backlash on fraud is certainly a thing on social media. Fortunately the Food Babe is a bit of a “has been” and has nowhere near the engagement that she did four or five years ago. May the truth always prevail.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.