If your neighborhood is anything like mine (or any other neighborhood, frankly), there’s a Starbucks in it, and that Starbucks was crowded with a line of cars around the block a week or two ago. That’s when the coffee chain rolled out its popular pumpkin spice latte drink.
I’m not a fan of that drink, but evidently everyone else who lives within about five miles of a Starbucks is. There were huge lines.
The pumpkin spice latte even got its own official Twitter feed.
Twitter: “We can’t verify you.” Me: “I came out here to have a good time and honestly I’m feeling so attacked right now” #VerifyTheRealPSL
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) September 17, 2014
The “verify” crack comes courtesy of Vani Hari, aka the “Food Babe.”
When Starbucks rolled its seasonal pumpkin spice latte out, Hari was ready with a damning infographic to attack the drink and you, if you drink it.
Geez, didn’t Basher Assad just declare a bunch of these things chemical weapons and ship them out to be destroyed?
Look, it is a little problematic that the pumpkin spice latte doesn’t contain any actual pumpkin. I’ll even side with the Food Babe that a lot of this artificial stuff is bad. High fructose corn syrup is nasty stuff, in my opinion, and I avoid it as much as possible. By the way, it’s in pretty much everything.
But HFCS isn’t in that latte. It has 50 grams of sugar, which Hari describes as “toxic.” See the graphic above.
50 grams of sugar is a lot for one grande drink, but it’s a sweet drink. The grande is also a fairly big drink — about 16 ounces. So the grande pumpkin spice latte’s 50 grams tracks with the 39 grams of sweetener that’s in a 12-ounce can of Coke.
And 50 grams of sugar is nowhere near “toxic.” It’s about 3.5 tablespoons. Many, many people put nearly as much in a regular sized cup of coffee without thinking twice about it.
I suppose if someone did the Super Size Me thing and drank nothing but grande pumpkin spice latte drinks every day every time they got the urge, they wouldn’t feel very good. It would be bad for them. But no reasonable person is going to do that. So the sugar in the drink is not, in any way, “toxic.”
Healthy eating and living are good things. I’ve changed my own diet recently to get more nutrients and fewer processed items into my body. Nothing to do with the Food Babe or any fad, I just want to lose a few pounds and be healthier. Fewer meats, more fruits and vegetables, more grains, you probably have heard the drill by now. If you haven’t, look into it. Yes, quinoa can be made edible. So far, about a month in, the results are inconclusive. But I’m sticking with it, with only an occasional dabble into a sweet item like a seasonal latte. And my grill is standing out back neglected. I need to rectify that soon.
This Food Babe is verging on becoming a Food Nazi, though. Hari makes her way through life being hot, and throwing out hyperbole. I get it, that’s how the Internet works. Hot gets you gigs on networks even if you don’t really know what you’re talking about. But Hari twists facts on ingredients when she lacks any sort of scientific background.
But before anyone enlists with the #FoodBabeArmy (yes, that’s a real thing), it’s worth pointing out that Hari is not a chemist or a scientist in any way. She’s an activist. More power to her, Army of Davids and all that, but reader beware. Now that she is a public figure and a known crusader, her livelihood will depend on her ability to “uncover” more things like non-toxic doses of sugar in a coffee drink. Having already successfully launched her “quackmail” campaigns against beer, Chick-Fil-A, Kraft, Panera, Subway and now Starbucks, who’s next?