Real Food Fake Food

Title: Real Food Fake Food

Author: Larry Olmstead

Reviewer: Maria Ryan

Publication Date: July 12, 2016

We’re Victims of Food

I could be wrong, but I’m not. After reading Olmstead’s heavily researched expose on food that is real and food that is anything but and how to spot the difference (sometimes you can’t) and after journeying through my own call to truth to the horrific world of EVOO, I no longer see out of the same lenses. I also spend far more on food than I ever thought I would. In addition, I spend far more time researching, shopping, preparing, and cooking as well.

Truth is, a book like this shouldn’t have to exist at all but sadly the need for more work such as Olmstead’s is a critical counterpoint to the adulteration of our food supply and the far-reaching damage it does to all of us, both consumers and real food creators alike.

Each chapter covers a specific food such as cheese, wine, beef, and olive oil. From there Olmstead gets up close and personal with these foods as they hail from specific parts of the world and outlines the subtle and not so subtle nuances that make them special and calling out the imposters as even more heinous. He also names names, a practice I wholeheartedly believe we need more of in every area of fakery. Why are we protecting the frauds?

Olmstead ends each chapter with steps that the consumer can take to better ensure that they are indeed getting the real thing if that is a concern for them. It should be to all of us as it impacts our health, pocketbook, taste, experience, and the livelihood of those painstakingly creating the real thing. Cheap fillers, one of the many methods of fakery, can range from toxic, life threatening substances to those that threaten our long term health and optimal functioning.

The takeaways are simple too. A couple of my favorites are:

The wider the appeal of a particular food, the more prone to fakery it will be. This also goes for food that is the most expensive.

Foods with categories listed as ingredients (i.e. natural flavors) will most often contain ingredients that none of us should be eating. Avoid these like the plague.

Price points can be a strong indicator of real vs. fake but not in every case.

At this point in time, hardcore investigative journaling is the best mainstream option we have for critical information regarding our food industry, including sourcing, manufacturing, restaurant practices, and marketing. Those who question these journalists’ expertise are nothing short of ridiculous. Who better to shed light on this topic but a food journalist, especially one that cares?

Though upsetting and depressing, thank goodness for books like this.

It is always better to know so let in the light.

BRB Rating: Own It

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