Vani Hari, the Food Babe, demands answers readily available
Vani Hari, the self-proclaimed Food Babe has a petition
ask ing demanding that “Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors, America’s largest beer brands to disclose their full set of ingredients online for all consumers to see.” Apparently, listing the ingredients on the beer’s label where everyone can see it is not enough, it should be online. Go ahead; look at the label. It says: “Hops, Rice, and Best Barley Malt“! Aha! They didn’t list water! I knew they were hiding something! Coors, on the other hand, only lists “100% Rocky Mountain Water” on the can.
Online, Anheuser-Busch goes on to list the water and yeast (apparently, Hari’s investigation did not include actual research or fact checking or she could not get by the age-gates for the breweries’ websites). While the yeasts, hops, barley, rice, and water are all proprietary for these breweries (yes, even water tastes different due to different chemicals/minerals in it–water in different areas is different) the basics are the same. Crushed grain (usually just barley but sometimes, wheat, rice, or corn may be added) is soaked in hot water (between 140F and 158F) for a period of time (about 20 to 60 minutes) and then the liquid is run off to be boiled. After the liquid (called wort) has boiled it is cooled and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are “pitched” into the wort. The yeast eat the sugars and excrete alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) until they run out of sugars to eat. That’s it.
With their ingredients listed on their websites and for Budweiser on its cans, Hari’s demands were first answered by silence. As Hank Campbell, founder of Science 2.0 points out:
[Hari] uses the science illiteracy of the nutritionist segment to full effect and conspiratorially declares that [her targets] must be hiding something if they refuse to answer her uninformed questions about ingredients.
You will notice she has gone after BMC (Budweiser Miller Coors) because, of course, they are corporations and only corporations have something to hide. It is common knowledge, after all, that smaller brewers use only the finest, purest, highest quality ingredients for their artisanal malt beverages. That logic is, of course, the pure, high quality horse manure.
Because as Maureen Ogle notes this sort of tactic has been used before:
Well over a century ago…supporters of “temperance” and alcohol prohibition launched a campaign to eliminate “adulterated” beer from the marketplace…[one particular group] demanded that the nation’s brewers reveal the use of all their ingredients and sent brewers a questionnaire aimed at rooting out the truth. On the list of alleged ingredients were corn, rice, glucose, ‘grape sugar,’ molasses, and potato and corn starch. Other groups claimed brewers used acids in their beer…Eventually, of course, the prohibitionists, who never met a fear they weren’t willing to exploit, managed to make prohibition the law of the land — with, shall we say, disastrous results.
The Brewers Association, which represents the smaller craft brewers in the United States has been silent on this issue. Whether they think that they are exempt from the Food Babes of the world or they think “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” or something else entirely, I do not know. Either way, it is a dangerously naive strategy.
The New Yellow Journalism By Jay Brooks
Beware the Dangers of [Profit-Driven] Dumbassery by Maureen Ogle
Beer McCarthyism – The Food Babe Goes After Breweries Again by Hank Campbell
What’s In YOUR Beer? Or, The Dangers of Dumbassery by Maureen Ogle
Beer Wars: The Calumny of The Food Babe by Tom Cizauskas (anyone who use “calumny” in a title has to be giving a smart take)