The Weekly Woo: hitting them where they live

This week in woo, I crashed ALL OF THE WOO. The Los Angeles Green festival was aptly named as I saw a lot of people out to make some green. And some who had been smoking it.

I was up front with everyone that I’m a science blogger and work as a chemist at a pesticide company. I felt the need to say “no, it’s not Monsanto” so that the pitchforks would stay underneath their hemp tablecloths. I told people I was looking for evidence and studies. If they were nice, I was way, way nice. If they weren’t? I was polite while telling them the truth about the science of their product. I knew I was basically walking into Church and saying “you know this ‘god’ thing is crap, right?”

Most people were civil. A few weren’t. A lot were clueless. And there was a really cute puppy.

First thing upon walking in?


I asked “do these contain gluten?” A simple enough question, right? Because I want my pathetic immune system to not be decimated by your shitty woo-bar. His answer?

“We use spelt.”

“Um, that has gluten.”

“No, but it’s spelt, so it’s not conventional wheat.”

“You didn’t seem to understand me, I asked if it contains gluten, spelt contains gluten.”

“Well some people who are concerned with gluten aren’t concerned with that.”

This company is fine with harming it’s customers with celiac (um, me). Or I found one idiot rep. I told him I was tweeting that answer and he said to go ahead.

Next, Mr. All Natural:


I told him I was going to bust him and he was sure he was bullet proof. What was this sweet adorable blond girl possibly going to have against him who was certified GMO free? After grilling him on the definition of ‘natural,’ I eventually just asked…

“What’s better about natural?”

“It’s a lifestyle.”

“So you admit you’re selling a lifestyle?”

“You can move on.”

This started a trend.


I almost felt sorry for the girl working here. She had no idea what to say.

“Our founder is a doctor and he’s discovered the cure for athlete’s foot.”

“Yeah, it’s called ketoconazole, it’s a common anti-fungal medication.”

None of the statements were backed up by the FDA and they had zero published studies. Also… athlete’s foot? Really?




I found bullshit central. But they were way, way friendly even while I was busting them.


“Your product’s not chemical free.”

“How do you know?”

“Water is a chemical.”

He was pretty defensive at first, but we chatted for a bit. I explained by having a sign that says “no chemicals,” the company contributes to an unnecessary chemical phobia. He seemed to get it. Progress. Who knows if it’ll be gone a few trade shows from now.


I think they need to update their advertising campaign to include people who haven’t testified in front of congress for false advertising.


The sign advertising their booth said “no toxins.” When I pointed out that isopropanol can shut down someone’s kidneys, they told me to leave. (I seem to have established a pattern).


It’s important to keep hydrated.

(Also, this is in the middle of all their “healthy” snack vendors.)


Wherever there’s bullshit, there’s an MLM business. The knives from this company are great. They were really friendly. And yes, I am absolutely shilling for them now because they gave me a free knife. My love can be bought. After a day of having so many people tell me to go to hell? I’m fine with this.


Don’t worry, it’s a vegan polar bear.


I normally need to flavor coconut water. This was non-flavored and it was delicious. I’ll happily promote products that just taste good. I really don’t care if it’s organic.  Organic or not, just good stuff.


A lot of kiosks had ‘label GMO’ type handouts. I asked the guy at the Dr. Bonner kiosk what he thought about it and brought up my objections, mentioning that so many products have small ingredients derived from GMO products. At what point is labeling just a hassle? What detail level will be demanded? Do we need to know what lube the farmer used to jerk off that morning?

It was like the issue opened up for him and it was no longer big business trying to hide anything, the food was safe, it was just communicating the contents and not making people afraid of the food. He was a biology major who, of course, wanted it labeled. Because of course. Now… Maybe not?


This guy believed in crop circles and that he had pictures of angels. I took this picture and backed away slowly.


They asked for a ‘green’ haiku to be entered for a $100 amex gift card. Well… it’s 5-7-5. And it involves ‘green.’


“Do you want us to tell you about safer food?”

“No, because you’re trying to destroy my job.”

The look on these poor wide eyed optimists’ faces when they hear these things fills my heart with glee. They never considered that at GMOInside.



One kiosk was there signing a petition to ban all GMOs in Los Angeles. She went off on me when I said GMOs were good. She was scary.


Closing with some non-bullshit, these guys were giving out energy saver shower heads and a bunch of tools for water efficiency. We’re having a touch of a drought out here, it was nice to see this.



There was an animal shelter with their WAY ADORABLE PUPPIES there. So… go adopt one if you can. I’m thinking about taking this one home.

So that’s that. People were disarmed more often than not when the evil scientist was a cute perky blond, they were really willing to talk, occasionally didn’t have a clue what natural or organic meant, were shocked to know that pesticides could go into organic farming, and have a hard time thinking of science in this context as a good thing. 

Maybe one day I won’t have to say “I don’t work at Monsanto” when I introduce myself at these things just to reassure them that I don’t work at the company whose technology saved a billion people.

They’ll come around. More pictures of cute blondes with puppies. Less pictures of gas masks.

And maybe one day somebody will know what the fuck gluten is.

-Science Babe.

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About SciBabe 79 Articles
Yvette d'Entremont, aka SciBabe, is a chemist and writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and their four pets. She bakes a mean gluten free chocolate chip cookie and likes glitter more than is considered healthy for a woman past the age of seven.

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