opinion

My mum used to think like Pete Evans. And it's cost me a fortune.

As the world now well knows, celebrity chef Pete Evans doesn’t have much time for conventional sunscreen.

Or baby formula.

Or the addition of fluoride to drinking water.

And while ordinarily I’d be like, “okay kooky affluent man, you do you,” I can’t when it comes to Pete Evans.

And that’s because I grew up in a household that would have set his paleo-loving heart racing. And it’s cost me thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Pete Evans with his daughters. Source: Facebook.

For the most part, my early childhood was the kind of experience many of us, Pete Evans included, dream about.

My family and I lived on a small farm where we grew our own fruit and vegetables, collected eggs laid by our pet hens, drank rain water fresh from the tank, and spent our mornings feeding poddy lambs.

My parents made almost all of our food from scratch, with preservatives and food colourings being big no no's.

pete evans lifestyle

Katy with her mum. Source: provided. 

And thanks to my older brother's allergies, my mum spent countless hours throughout the 1980s listening to the advice of doctors, specialists and alternative therapists all in a bid to learn how to keep her children healthy and safe.

So when the local dentist told my mum that drinking rain water was great and assured her that her three children didn't need to take fluoride tablets, she believed him.

Pete Evans proudly wearing an anti-fluoride tee in Western Australia. Source: Facebook.

He promised her that fluoride would naturally come into our rain water because it sat in a concrete tank. And given his status as someone who knew more than the average Joe, my mum believed him. I'm sure most of the town did.

Because just like Pete Evans, his voice had power and carried weight.

But then years later, when I learned I had teeth riddled with cavities, that we learned our dentist's water-sitting-in-concrete theory held about as much legitimacy as our fears around the Y2K bug.

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pete evans lifestyle

Katy with her mum and sister. Source: provided. 

And suddenly after an entire childhood of brushing and flossing and doing everything I'd been told to do, I faced a mountainous dental bill. And all because a personal theory was peddled by someone who had a scientifically unproven opinion.

Several fillings, a root canal, and countless fluoride treatments later, I'm thousands of dollars down and still furious.

And call me a negative Nancy, but I have a feeling that in 20 years time another generation of people will be coming out of the woodwork to share similar horror stories about those who, like Pete Evans, have labelled fluoride "unsafe and unethical".

So if you're wondering why I don't just stop listening, the answer is this: on Facebook alone, Pete Evans has 1.5 million people listening to his opinions.

And if you spend just five minutes looking through the comments section you'll see that almost all of those people truly believe what he says.

"You rock Pete, love your work, love your spirit and you're a huge inspiration to thousands of Aussies who are boldly taking control of their own health," one follower wrote following his sunscreen comments last week.

"Keep spreading the truth Peter... you are awesome," another commented.

His feed is dedicated to those worshipping at the alter of his scientifically unproven theories.

And as someone who unwittingly attended a similar church for years, I'm here to say the wellness cult club is highly flawed.

But if I'm really being honest, perhaps what makes me more furious than anything is that despite admitting she feels guilty for believing our dentist's crackpot theories all those years ago, my mum is now one of the 1.5 million Facebook users that follows Evans.