Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It

Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It

You’ve seen the headlines: Parmesan cheese made from wood pulp. Lobster rolls containing no lobster at all. Extra-virgin olive oil that isn’t. Fake foods are in our supermarkets, our restaurants, and our kitchen cabinets. Award-winning food journalist and travel writer Larry Olmsted exposes this pervasive and dangerous fraud perpetrated on unsuspecting Americans.     Real...

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Title:Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It
Author:Larry Olmsted
Rating:
ISBN:1616204214
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:318 pages

Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It Reviews

  • GONZA
    May 02, 2016

    This book is scaring, even if it starts talking about Parma, which is one of the loveliest city I've ever lived (for 9 years) and where is possible to find the real Parmigiano Reggiano, and the real Prosciutto di Parma and so on. As an Italian person living in Europe (Berlin to be precise), I know how hard is to find the "real food", but at last it's easier compared to the difficulties and lies a U.S. citizen as to go trough. So I think it's good that this book is around, because it helps people

    This book is scaring, even if it starts talking about Parma, which is one of the loveliest city I've ever lived (for 9 years) and where is possible to find the real Parmigiano Reggiano, and the real Prosciutto di Parma and so on. As an Italian person living in Europe (Berlin to be precise), I know how hard is to find the "real food", but at last it's easier compared to the difficulties and lies a U.S. citizen as to go trough. So I think it's good that this book is around, because it helps people to understand what they are eating and where to find the real stuff.

    Questo libro mette paura, anche se inizia molto tranquillamente parlando di Parma, bellissima cittá dove sono cresciuta e dove é ancora possibile trovare il vero Parmigiano Reggiano e il prosciutto di Parma e altre fantastiche prelibatezze. Come italiana che vive a Berlino, sono perfettamene consapevole di quanto sia difficile trovare "cibo vero" all'estero, ma sicuramente é piú difficile per gli americani, che si devono muovere in mezzo ad un mare di bugie e di falsi. Quindi sono contenta che esista questo libro, perché insegna alle persone quello che stanno mangiando e dove, eventualmente, trovare il corrispettivo reale.

    THANKS TO NETGALLEY AND ALGONQUIN BOOKS FOR THE PREVIEW!

  • Marsha
    Jul 02, 2016

    Larry Olmsted has an engaging and anecdotal style of writing that makes his book compulsively easy to read and it is oh so informative. I am on a quest now to find real and fresh parma-reggianno cheese and authentic and fresh olive oil. I am glad to know why ordering red snapper in a restaurant is a bad idea and why one should never ever dine in a sushi restaurant. It surprised me to read why Costco, Walmart and some of the other big-box stores are actually more reliable than restaurants and gro

    Larry Olmsted has an engaging and anecdotal style of writing that makes his book compulsively easy to read and it is oh so informative. I am on a quest now to find real and fresh parma-reggianno cheese and authentic and fresh olive oil. I am glad to know why ordering red snapper in a restaurant is a bad idea and why one should never ever dine in a sushi restaurant. It surprised me to read why Costco, Walmart and some of the other big-box stores are actually more reliable than restaurants and grocery stores when it comes to sourcing healthy seafood and meat.

    While some of the food fraud is relatively harmless, like lobster sandwiches that contain no lobster but do still contain edible food (even seafood sometimes) there are other occasions when the substitutions have lethal consequences, like spices being extended with fillers, which can include ground peanuts and flour -- ingredients that are lethal to those allergic to them.

    Much of what Olmsted relates is alarming but it's mitigated by the fact that he advises the reader on how to spot fake food and how to go about buying the real stuff. Eye opening and compulsively readable. If you eat food you need to read this book.

    Thank you Netgalley and Algonquin Books for the opportunity to read a free e-edition in exchange for an honest review.

  • Billie
    Jul 29, 2016

    This book was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors ("principal" instead of "principle" and—the one that almost made me stop reading—"Columbia" for the country of "Colombia") and presents information that should be common knowledge to most of the audience for whom this book is intended. There is a lot (

    ) of repetition and the most interesting parts—when the author speaks with the producers of the genuine foodstuffs and others in the food industry—are too short and often too focused o

    This book was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors ("principal" instead of "principle" and—the one that almost made me stop reading—"Columbia" for the country of "Colombia") and presents information that should be common knowledge to most of the audience for whom this book is intended. There is a lot (

    ) of repetition and the most interesting parts—when the author speaks with the producers of the genuine foodstuffs and others in the food industry—are too short and often too focused on the author himself. Ultimately, this book felt like a project that arose when the author discovered the areas in which his own food knowledge was lacking and decided to write an angry screed, but an angry screed wasn't going to get him paid, so he had to tone it down and somehow turn it into a book. Save your money and use it to buy some good olive oil or a nice wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano instead.

  • Sophia
    Aug 01, 2016

    Highly recommended reading for anyone who truly cares about food and the food & beverage industry. As a life-long food appreciator, as someone who loves to travel, and as a person who feels strongly about shopping and eating locally, this book was exactly what I hoped it would be. Informative without being overwhelming, Olmsted marries his personal and professional experiences with research and industry-expert interviews to produce this excellent piece of journalism.

    A few quick takeaways --

    Highly recommended reading for anyone who truly cares about food and the food & beverage industry. As a life-long food appreciator, as someone who loves to travel, and as a person who feels strongly about shopping and eating locally, this book was exactly what I hoped it would be. Informative without being overwhelming, Olmsted marries his personal and professional experiences with research and industry-expert interviews to produce this excellent piece of journalism.

    A few quick takeaways -- always buy wine, olive oil, and parmigiano-reggiano from a high-quality and experienced vendor. Never buy seafood, especially shrimp, at a restaurant. Never buy meats from a supermarket. Buy and eat everything you possibly can that is local and if you want to try a "local specialty" product, travel to the place it is made and try it there!!

    And I just have to say, the last two pages were exquisitely written. Maybe that's because homemade pizza and a glass of excellent red wine is my idea of a perfect meal, but maybe not, who can say ;)

  • Kim Berkshire
    Aug 07, 2016

    Parts were really interesting, but I agree with reviewer who thought how nice for the author to be able to travel the world eating things most of us will only ever see at Whole Foods or the farmer's market (if that farmer's market is in, say, Napa). Would like to have seen more American foods put under the microscope. But the olive oil, fish and wine sections were illuminating.

    But how seriously can you take a book with so many misspellings? I saw references to inexcusable mistakes in other revie

    Parts were really interesting, but I agree with reviewer who thought how nice for the author to be able to travel the world eating things most of us will only ever see at Whole Foods or the farmer's market (if that farmer's market is in, say, Napa). Would like to have seen more American foods put under the microscope. But the olive oil, fish and wine sections were illuminating.

    But how seriously can you take a book with so many misspellings? I saw references to inexcusable mistakes in other reviews, like Columbia/Colombia and I'm sure I missed others, but come on, Pasa Robles?

    I felt the publishers thought they were in some kind of race to get this book out and you can really tell by the structure of the chapters. So jarring!!!!

  • Rebecca
    Aug 14, 2016

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via Librarything, in exchange for an honest review.

    I had a love/hate relationship with this book. The chapters on seafood and olive oil were terrifying. The rest of the book really irked me.

    I absolutely understand the regional pride behind things like Champagne and Parmigiano Reggiano. Many people have the means to get these "real" foods from their producers overseas. Many people do not have the means to do so. This was one of my issues w

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via Librarything, in exchange for an honest review.

    I had a love/hate relationship with this book. The chapters on seafood and olive oil were terrifying. The rest of the book really irked me.

    I absolutely understand the regional pride behind things like Champagne and Parmigiano Reggiano. Many people have the means to get these "real" foods from their producers overseas. Many people do not have the means to do so. This was one of my issues with the book. The author seems to be constantly traveling the world and eating in top tier restaurants. Good for him. Myself, a civil servant, will probably never have the chance to fly to Italy for cheese. According to the author, this seems to mean that I should never have "parmesan cheese" because it isn't the "real" stuff. I do think there is a major difference between the powder in the green can, and a wedge of cheese called parmesan from the specialty cheese case of my grocery store (which is NOT a Whole Foods). Simply because my $9 wedge of parmesan is not from the right parts of Italy, it is denounced as fake and derided for daring to exist. As an educated consumer, I fully understand that the Boar's Head parmesan I'm buying is not authentic Parmigiano Reggiano. So what?

    The author also isn't consistent in his real/fake cheese discussion. He bashes all American produced cheeses that originated elsewhere (feta, Muenster, etc), yet some domestic cheeses get a pass on being labeled "fake" because they are made in a common style. So who makes this decision? Why is domestic cheddar okay, when domestic feta is declared the bastard brother to Greek produced feta?

    The biggest example of cheese hypocrisy is the author's declaration that American cheese food/product is simply the best cheese for burgers. Excuse me? The "food" that isn't legally allowed to be called cheese is okay by him because it is so tasty? I'll take my domestically produced "fake" cheese any day. He also advocates Popeye’s fried chicken and admits to eating gas station fried chicken. How do these mass produced foods pass the “real” foods test?

    And what happened to the whole Local Foods trend? Sure, you can purchase foods from all across the world because they are considered the best. But has he stopped to consider his carbon footprint? If you care about the environment, wouldn't it be better to eat domestic foods than put tons of carbon into our atmosphere to get food imported? Shouldn't we support our local farmers and producers? The high environmental cost of importing "real" foods, combined with the many, many flights the author has stated he's taken, has given him a very large carbon footprint, at least in my opinion. How can he claim that "real" foods are better for the environment?

    Again, the seafood and olive oil chapters were certainly terrifying. It is obvious that our government should be doing more to prevent actual fake food from entering our markets. Products that could potentially sicken and kill consumers should be dealt with seriously, instead of not at all.

    Overall the book was an informative look at food production and the global food trade, the author’s attitudes and biases really turned me off. Let this book help you become a better consumer, but don’t let it dictate all your food buying decisions. After all, the author confirmed that his $125 French Bresse chicken tasted just like. . . chicken.

  • Shomeret
    Oct 01, 2016

    When I decided to read Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted after seeing it on my Goodreads feed, my main concern with fake food was whether my health was being endangered by it. I learned that Larry Olmsted is what was once called a gourmet, but would now be referred to as a foodie. His main concern is authenticity. He wants food that is associated with a specific geographic location to have been made at that location in the traditional way. He explains at great length why this is important. He

    When I decided to read Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted after seeing it on my Goodreads feed, my main concern with fake food was whether my health was being endangered by it. I learned that Larry Olmsted is what was once called a gourmet, but would now be referred to as a foodie. His main concern is authenticity. He wants food that is associated with a specific geographic location to have been made at that location in the traditional way. He explains at great length why this is important. He is not unconcerned with health, so there is some overlap. Yet I found this book only selectively valuable.

    Even though not every chapter in this book dealt with types of food or beverages that I ever consume, I do consider Olmsted an engaging writer. I thought that all the content in this book was interesting. The chapters I found most significant were extremely useful and sounded an alarm about the state of our food supply. Let the buyer beware. Let the buyer also read the relevant chapter in Real Food, Fake Food.

    For my complete review see

  • Ken Dowell
    Oct 14, 2016

    Several years ago I was vacationing in Puerto Rico and while driving along the south coast of the island, stopped at a seaside restaurant. Sitting on a dining deck overlooking the Caribbean, I ordered red snapper and thought that it was possibly the best fish fillet I’d ever tasted. I ordered red snapper again while I was in Puerto Rico and the result was the same. But when I came back to the continental U.S., every time I ordered red snapper I was disappointed. After reading Real Food, Fake Foo

    Several years ago I was vacationing in Puerto Rico and while driving along the south coast of the island, stopped at a seaside restaurant. Sitting on a dining deck overlooking the Caribbean, I ordered red snapper and thought that it was possibly the best fish fillet I’d ever tasted. I ordered red snapper again while I was in Puerto Rico and the result was the same. But when I came back to the continental U.S., every time I ordered red snapper I was disappointed. After reading Real Food, Fake Food I realize why. When you order red snapper here, there is little chance that is what you get.

    There are a couple different kinds of “fake food” covered by the author in this book. One is what I would call geographical impurity. That’s when you get Champagne or Burgundy that isn’t from those regions in France, port that isn’t from Porto, Portugal, Kobe beef that isn’t from Japan or prosciutto that isn’t from Parma. Not sure “fake” is the right word for this. Maybe just inauthentic. The other day I bought a can of “Marzano style” tomatoes that clearly said on the front of the label “grown in California.” So I was not getting real Marzano tomatoes from Italy. But I knew what I was getting and I was okay with that.

    What I’m not okay with is grated Parmesan cheese cut with plastic (see Kraft), ground coffee diluted with twigs or parchment, or tea bags filled with sawdust or weeds. That is truly fake food.

    A lot of what is covered in the book is about inaccurate or deceptive labeling. One classic example is Coke’s pomegranate-blueberry juice which actually contains 0.3 percent pomegranate juice. They were taken to court over this fraud and the company’s defense was that their misleading claim was in line with FDA regulations. And they were right, although is this case the judge ruled instead for common sense. But that shows how little we can rely on our regulators to help us out here. According to Olmsted, “American consumers receive less protection against Fake Foods than do citizens of Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica…”

    Another example is Angus beef, which the author contends may or may not come from Angus cattle. That’s because “the USDA defines the term by color not breed. To be labeled ‘Angus,’ meat must come from a steer that was a least 51 percent black.”

    Olmsted offers us some advice to make us better consumers. Some surprised me, like his assertion that if you want to be sure extra virgin olive oil is really extra version grade, you’re better off getting Australian olive oil than Italian. And if you want to shop somewhere that accurately identifies seafood and its origin, Walmart, Costco and BJ’s are good choices. He even slips in a recipe here and there.

    I did come away with the impression that the author is a food snob who got righteously indignant over issues that I would more likely shrug off, like Parmesan cheese made in Wisconsin that was not the same as Parmigiano-Reggiano made in Parma, Italy. And little was said of the issue that you could make sure you get only prosciutto from Parma, lobster from Maine, Kobe beef from Japan and many of the other “real foods” the author discusses, but you might then have trouble paying your rent. That being said, “Real Food, Fake Food” is an enlightening account of what it is you are buying and eating, and what it is not. At one point I put the book down and went to get an apple, comfortable in the knowledge that I had picked it from the tree myself and that nobody had screwed with it or mislabeled it.

  • Jessica
    Dec 10, 2016

    5 Mind-Blowing-Stars! ☆☆☆☆☆

    Everyone need to read this book. Its insane finding out the truth about what we put in our mouths, thinking we are eating healthy. Worst part is, the people, & organizations like the FDA & USDA , who are supposed to be protecting us, don't. Not even half guidelines for the half the foods on the store shelves. Congress doesnt want to pass laws to monitor where our food comes from or what is in it. And even worse, some companies lie to you, pushing fake labels, p

    5 Mind-Blowing-Stars! ☆☆☆☆☆

    Everyone need to read this book. Its insane finding out the truth about what we put in our mouths, thinking we are eating healthy. Worst part is, the people, & organizations like the FDA & USDA , who are supposed to be protecting us, don't. Not even half guidelines for the half the foods on the store shelves. Congress doesnt want to pass laws to monitor where our food comes from or what is in it. And even worse, some companies lie to you, pushing fake labels, pretending to be better than they are. Its disgusting.

    PS: Larry, i love you. Reading this book has opened up my eyes and helped make me an even more conscious buyer and eater. Thank you.

    This book will give you goosebumps, once you find out what is wrong with not only our food industry, but by what is in your kitchen. I am very health conscious, and i am very happy my bf told me to read this book, because ...wow! The lies on most food labels are outrageous! But, if you know what to look for and how to spot the fakes & scammers, you could beat them at their own game. This book helps you do just that.

    “Fake Foods are usually of low quality. But they are not fake because they are of low quality; they are of low quality because they are fake”

    This book is a mixture or crazy facts, recipes, stories and shopping tips to help you buy the 'real food'.

    “in New England, the popular lobster roll, basically a heaping mound of lobster meat on a bun, is one of the most expensive sandwiches you can find on a menu. So how can fast-food chains sell lobster rolls for half the price or less? Simple—their lobster rolls don’t contain actual lobster. And it’s legal. Welcome to Fake Food.”

    Fun Fact:

    1. Kobe beef sold in america in any restaurant is fake! Import of Japanese beef is banned by the USDA.

    2. Most cheese sold in the US is not really cheese. Cheese has 3 simple ingredients. Drug-free Milk, salt & rennet. Kraft includes milk of unknown origin and purity, cellulose powder, potassium sorbate and cheese cultures.

    3. When kraft labels say "100% Grated Parmesan Cheese", its a lie. The '100%' refers to the grating, not the cheese. And in fact, it is completely grated. F#%king WOW!

    4. Kraft's "100 percent pure beef" doesnt mean there arent any added chemicals, ingredients or flavors. Because there are, they mean their hotdogs are made of cow. Not dog or cat or eagle. Just cow. What part of the cow? :) well thats best kept secret if you ever want to eat a hotdog again.

    5. “there are no legal organic rules for seafood at all but also no rules against using the term.”

    6. “Here is the main way the USDA defines natural for meat: “All raw single ingredient meat and poultry qualify as natural.” In one of the few cases where rules mean what they say, this defines every piece of every animal as natural. Additionally, “certain products labeled as natural may also contain a flavoring solution . . . The amount of solution added to products bearing natural claims is not limited.” So while the current USDA standard for 100% grass fed does not prohibit drugs or animal by-products, and the naturally raised definition does not prohibit an unnatural diet of grain and silage, labels bearing both claims are pretty close to what consumers such as Tom Colicchio, Casey Cook, and I want to eat.”

    7. Bottom line: the organizations and companies that look like they are out to protect our best interests, really aren't. The laws and regulation for conventional terms on all packaging are either loose or are so completely twisted, that they don't even come close to the dictionary version. Its sickening how the people running these organizations sleep at night.

    8. “If the meat you are eyeing is already packaged, as most supermarket steaks are, sandwiched between a foam tray and clear plastic wrap, don’t rely on its vibrant appearance to make your decision. Meat marketers use what is known as modified atmospheric packaging, or MAP, to make products look artificially fresh. Basically, they fill the package with small amounts of carbon monoxide, the same stuff unhappy folks use to kill themselves in garages. This doesn’t actually preserve meat, but it does keep it bright red—even if it has already spoiled (seafood lovers, as if you didn’t already have enough problems, they do the same thing with tuna—real and fake).”

    9. “While the USDA regulates the meat in the package, the carbon monoxide is considered a food additive, so it comes under the purview of the FDA, which in turn does not require it to be listed on the label." -WOW! WHAT?!

    10. The USDA created a grading system for honey. Grade A, B, C, etc., but the grading rules skip vitally important factors, such as whether nonhoney ingredients (such as corn syrup) can be added. Additionally, honey and maple syrup are in a special category, and unlike almost every other product it regulates, the USDA allows use of its grading marks without any inspections, ever (oil is theoretically subject to inspection, though it almost never is). As the Federal Register reads, “Honey does not require official inspection in order to carry official USDA grade marks and . . . there are no existing programs that require the official inspection and certification of honey.” Enforcement is based solely on responding to complaints” -Why create a system if no one is there to monitor it or even enforce it?!

    11. “actual organic production of honey is almost impossible for producers to control, because bees roam freely and choose plants that may or may not have been organically farmed. Also, “100%” is a widely misused food label term that often means a particular ingredient, not the entire product, is 100 percent something.”

    12. “Increasingly, ground coffee is being mixed with cheaper ingredients such as maize, soybeans, sugar and acai seeds.”

    13. Regarding juice, “the sticky matter that most of the apple juice concentrate used in this country comes from China and has a bad reputation—deservedly, as it has frequently proven tainted.”

    14. “the bland tomato industry, which gases the green tomatoes with ethylene, triggering a ripening response—or more accurately a reddening response—in already-picked tomatoes. “You can take green tomatoes, gas them, and they turn red within twenty-four hours, but while they may look red, they are still green, as in not ripe, and they taste terrible. Maybe 95 percent of the field grown tomatoes in the U.S. are gassed and not truly ripe,” said Dr. Howard Resh, one of the world’s leading authorities on hothouse gardening and hydroponics.”

    15. Another fact, apples and bananas get gassed just like tomatoes to ripen.

    “I’ve seen oil labeled ‘USDA organic,’ ‘extra virgin,’ and ‘made in Italy,’ which was actually colored and flavored soybean oil,” Mueller told me. “If no one is checking, that’s what’s going to happen—you can put whatever in hell you want on the label.” Guess what? No one is checking.”

    The beginning of Chapter 1 sucked. The made up story of a character named Paola Rainieri living in Parma was silly, nicely put. All of this to tell me how hard it is and long it takes to make Parmigiano-Reggiano. Then it talked about the correct way to make ham.

    But the second half went back to interesting facts about cheese and how to spot the fakes.

    “In Italy, bologna is rightly considered a delicacy, while in the United States it’s almost a punishment”

    -Hahahahaaa...!

    Shopping Tips:

    1. When buying parmesan, buy the ones with the full Italian name and make sure it says "made in Italy" and has the PDO Seal.

    2. For high quality balsamic vinegar, look for the full name "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena" or "... Di reggio Emilia".

    3. Never buy 'Red Snapper'. It is almost never, 98% of the time, NOT red snapper but tilapia or some other imitation fish, pumped with hormones and antibiotics.

    4. Dont buy salmon from Scotland and Norway.

    5. Stay away from farmed fish. Farmed salmon dont eat krill which gives them the distinctive pink color. So they are dyed with chemicals. How to tell if your eating farmed or fresh? When you cook salmon, the wild caught retains its pink color, the farmed tends to have the color leak out!!!!

    6. Atlantic salmon is extinct in the wild. So they are all farmed. If it says 'wild', its a lie!

    7. When buying seafood, to be safe, look for the MSC logo. It means its been wild caught. Or the Gulf Wild seal, which assures the authenticity of wild caught fish from gulf of Mexico and is best for shrimp.

    8. Look for 'Alaskan Seafood' logo. Probably the most reliable for wild and natural seafood. There is no such thing as farmed Alaskan Seafood.

    9. Buy dry scallops, but not really dry. So avoid scallops that are frozen, cloudy, white or translucent. Real scallops have a cream color. Treated scallops tend to be bright white.

    10. “Unlike wine, olive oil is never going to be better than on the day it was bottled, but it will get worse. The most important thing you can find is the harvest date, which few bottles carry but should be no more than a year earlier. Ignore meaningless “best by” or “bottled on” dates.”

    11. When buying olive oil, look for the COOC or EVA or UNAPROL logos. And try to buy oils from Chili or Austria, who enforce strict no carry-over regulations.

    12. When buying meat, look for the “American Grassfed Association seal”. It is issued by an industry group that requires its like-minded members to feed only grass and never confine cattle or use antibiotics or hormones.

    13. Remember “terms such as pasture raised, pasture finished, no additives, no animal by-products, free range, free roaming, green fed, humane, and pesticide free are all allowable—and all totally meaningless.”

    14. “The most reliable pork and chicken label is “USDA Organic” (used mainly for meat and much different from the FDA’s version of organic), which requires a 100 percent organic diet, no antibiotics (ever), and bans feed made with synthetic pesticides.”

    15. “If memorizing label terms becomes a mind-numbing experience, the quickest and easiest shortcut to idiot-proof shopping for healthful red meat is to buy buffalo. At least until it gets popular enough to be exploited, pretty much all commercial bison operations in the country are free ranging, with no fences, eating an entirely natural diet of grass and forage without drugs. It is arguably better for you than beef anyway, tastes good, and there is no such thing as a bison feedlot” (bison is buffalo meat)

    16. I did not know this, but Peppers naturally go from green to red, yellow, or orange as they ripen on the vine, the same pepper, different stages. “always buy colored peppers. It’s worth the extra money, better tasting, better for your health, more nutritional value.”

    “Japanese beef became such a wannabe foodstuff that even Burger King—yes, that second-rate fast-food chain best known for making McDonald’s look good—created a $170 wagyu burger for its UK outlets, topped with foie gras and blue cheese instead of ketchup and yellow cheese slices. Kobe beef was not available in the United Kingdom either”

    “Under USDA regulations, the only legal requirement for calling something Kobe beef is that it qualifies as beef. Kobe is a completely unregulated term, and in any case, no agency—not the USDA, the FDA, or any other—regulates restaurant menu claims. Any restaurant in this country can, at any time, claim that any piece of meat it serves is Kobe beef, Kobe chicken, Kobe pork, Kobe goat, or even Kobe lobster (I’ve seen chicken and pork) without breaking any specific law, which as a consumer, I find sort of scary”

    “Passionate, artisanal, and devoted to her ancient art, Karin Bach is also a very nice woman, and for her sake, I hope she never visits an American supermarket.”

    -sadly, most people who don't live in america think this about our food. Worst part is, their right. Most of american food is so packed with steroids, antibiotics, fillers, color additives, preservatives, growth hormones and much more cr*p that you wouldn't eat if you saw it being made. So why eat it just because its in a shiny package on a store shelf?

    “American cheese” (which I admittedly use regularly because it is still the best choice for cheeseburgers), isn’t even cheese at all. Bearing in mind that the United States has the most lax cheese-labeling laws of pretty much any developed nation, American “cheese,” with its saturated fats, emulsifiers, and other additives, ventures so far from the basic definition that it can’t legally be called cheese, and when I was younger, it used to be widely known as “American cheese food.” Now it is more often called “processed cheese” or “cheese product.”

  • puppy
    Jan 03, 2017

    I broke my "no pop science" rule and once again mildly regret it.

    The book examines a handful of "real" foods and their fake counterparts: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Champagne, seafood, coffee, olive oil, and truffle oil are a few examples. All have a long, venerable history and exacting standards; all are widely imitated and sold as fraudulent “fake foods”.

    Like most pop-science books, the writing leaves a lot to be desired. The chapters are laid out in a very predictable fashion: a product is made t

    I broke my "no pop science" rule and once again mildly regret it.

    The book examines a handful of "real" foods and their fake counterparts: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Champagne, seafood, coffee, olive oil, and truffle oil are a few examples. All have a long, venerable history and exacting standards; all are widely imitated and sold as fraudulent “fake foods”.

    Like most pop-science books, the writing leaves a lot to be desired. The chapters are laid out in a very predictable fashion: a product is made to exacting standards, other people try to get a quick buck by copying it. The end.

    What I would like to see more of are the things that are mentioned only briefly in the conclusion: that eating “real food” (i.e., whole unprocessed foods of verified origin) is healthier and more sustainable for so many reasons. For example, there's only the briefest mention on reducing meat consumption. I would rather read a chapter on that, than a discussion on how bad cheap beef is. (No shit! Stop eating beef!)

    Parts are unbearably pretentious. (Pardon me if I don’t clutch my pearls at the thought of spending $100s on a knock-off port.) Other parts are weirdly chauvinistic… “the original Hooter’s, a mecca for chicken wing and breast lovers”? Ugh, please.

    I do think the chapters on wines (including champagne, sherry and port) are interesting. I also like that each chapter is accompanied by practical “buying tips”, like what to look for when buying a wine (region, quality designation, etc.).

    It’s a pretty quick and light read, and the tips on buying “real foods” are practical/helpful. I wouldn’t get too excited about this one but it’s a decent overview of food fraud. (FWIW I'd probably give this three stars if not for the dumb machismo.)