A book by Vani Hari (The Food Babe Way) was released today and if you have a bit of time go over to Amazon and read some of the reviews. For the most part, the reviews fall into one of two categories, 5 stars or 1 star. There’s very little in-between.
What’s really interesting is that most of the 1-star reviews are nothing short of personal attacks on the author. The book was released today, and unless you received an advance copy (like I did for my review) I seriously doubt how some of the reviewers had the chance to read the entire book. And yet they appear to be out in full force.
If you are new to the Food Babe, she is a young woman (not a scientist, not a medical writer, and not a political reporter, but then she never claims to be any of those) who exposes some of the dangerous (in terms of health) chemicals in some of our foods. She’s passionate about her work and some of her statements come from that place of passion.
But you know what? As a writer, she’s allowed to let her passion fuel her writing.
Above all else, a writer is allowed to write what she believes. We, as the reader, don’t have to read it or even agree with it. We can always put the book down. We have that right.
Due to her activism, Hari’s gotten some big food companies to change the ingredients they include in their foods. Sounds like a good thing, right? She was able to get Kraft to take a dye out of their American Mac and Cheese that had already been removed because of health concerns in their European products.
It’s a good solid message – try to avoid added chemicals. Know what’s in your food. Follow good health habits.
And yet, she is taking a double-fisted beating both on Amazon and Twitter. Hari is tilting her lance at the big food industry and they seem to be pulling out some big guns in return. If they get caught in her cross-hairs, it won’t be good for business and the results could prove costly. Big food has a lot invested in discrediting this particular author.
As a writer, I hate to see this. I’d like to think that if you have a disagreement with my writing that we could enter into a civilized discussion about it. Criticism is one thing, hate attacks are quite another.
Spoiler alert – here’s the moral of this post just a little bit early – If you try to change things, you will receive interference from people who do not want things to change.
I’m not going to defend Hari in this post, if you want to know what I felt about her book go here. I’m just going to say that as writers, if you take on a controversial topic (like I have with chronic Lyme disease) you will need to develop a thick skin. When it comes to controversial topics there will always be those who are out for blood.
In a time when anyone can create a fake account (and in this case, there is talk of people creating several accounts under which they are posting reviews) and when the internet is so open that it invites anonymous personal attacks under the guise of reviews, then you’d better be quite certain you’re ready for any and all consequences before you publish your work.
I’m not trying to scare anyone, and I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from writing about a controversy (just as I will continue to write about the multitude of failures with regard to Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment), but I do want to caution you that if write about a controversial topic, you absolutely must be prepared for controversy in response.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.