Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Real food, fake food: why you don't know what you're eating & what you can do about it, by Larry Olmsted

Remember when it was easy to spot the bad food? No sugar, no fat. Butter is the enemy. These days, the concept of bad food seems to have shifted entirely. Larry Olmsted talks about it in his new book Real Food Fake Food: why you don’t know what you’re eating & what you can do about it.

From fake olive oil to seafood fraud, international food industry is rife with fake food. At any point, the represented food could be cut with additives, replaced entirely, or imported from banned countries. And there is a distinct probability that this process could be legal. Olmsted takes us through the leading offenders, exploring cheese, beef, fish, and various types of alcohol.

Olmsted argues that fake food is when food is misrepresented in some form. Sometimes it can be physically changed as previously specified. Sometimes it can be the expectation of something that will never be as described. An example could be calling a cut of meat “Kobe beef” that never originated in Japan, or a can of grated Parmesan that should never be confused with the taste of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 This is a surprisingly engaging read. We as a culture devote so much time and attention to scandalous celebrity articles online and in the tabloids. Why not read devote a little time to reading similar tales about the foods we consume? Think of the clickbait articles that could be written:

“This chinese honey is unbelievable!” 
“Lose 5 lbs per week with this special sushi!”
“20 signs that your olive oil is fake!”

It would certainly benefit our wallets and our health to know when we were receiving knock-offs of requested foods. Imported food does not always go through the same strict regulations that affect domestic goods.

Does the idea of fake food intrigue you? Check out Swindled: the dark history of food fraud, from poisoned candy to counterfeit coffee, by Bee Wilson for a historical take on dangerously fake food. For more information, take a look at the Food Fraud Initiative website.

-Nicole


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