The West Has a Fake Food Problem

So much of our food is not food at all. It has been formulated by food scientists to make it cheap, addictive and to make it less filling (so you can eat more of it). From bread that does not go moldy to ice cream that does not melt we are living in a food nightmare. As chronic disease and cancers skyrocket, these mega food companies are experimenting on you without regard. But its easy to get out of it once you know what to look for. Eat natural foods, that’s it, simple.

Recognizing The 15 Most Common Fake Foods

Here’s a list of the most popular foods that are false, including milk, caviar, honey, cinnamon, and olive oil. This Bon Appetit article explains how to spot food scammers!

Eating makes us typically trusting. When a waiter delivers a dish, it has to match what’s on the menu. However, labels aren’t always reliable, and can you really tell the difference between a whity flaky fish and another when it comes down to it? Food fraud is real, and it has probably occurred to you, whether you like it or not.

Thanks to an infographic published in the New York Times last week that presented the issue as a smart, if somewhat sensationalist, cartoon, olive oil is currently the food hoax du jour. Food fraud is a difficult problem to sympathize with since, like wine and caviar, fine olive oil is a luxury item; after all, are you really really going to pay that much for something you can’t even identify? We think the answer is definitely no. You must, however, complete your homework. Could you ever eat without being paralyzed by uncertainty again if you don’t have a chromatography set in your pocket?

Overall, there are a few warning signs to be aware of. First thing first, read the ingredients. Words like essence or scent should make you want to run away. Frequent offenders include added sugar and subtly suffixed substances (vanillin for vanilla, for example). The most important thing to remember is to always purchase entire foods. Sure, it’s simple to add paprika extract to orange juice, but what could they possibly do to this orange? Actually, though… Well, that’s a different slideshow.

Olive Oil
You can only go so far with reading the label when it comes to olive oil. Since they aren’t legally lying if the olive oil went via one of the ports, a lot of olive oil that makes the claim to be “From Italy” is really imported into Italy and then exported again from there. Olive oil can be made fully from a less expensive oil that has been enhanced with beta carotene and chlorophyll, or it can be diluted with vegetable or soybean oil. Look for the label that says “extra-virgin,” although according to one research, 69 percent of bottles with that label failed the test. Benefit from tasting bars (free samples and quality assurance!) and seek out bottles bearing unique origin designations.

Initially, the teddy bears appear adorable. But examine it more closely. Look into the tiny, beady eyes. Those arrogantly flipped noses. Something is being concealed by them. Indeed, documented instances have revealed that purported “honey” is actually high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, or beet sugar. 2008 saw the downfall of the Al Capone of honey laundering, who was accused of passing cheap honey from China under the guise of white Korean honey. Select honey from small batches to prevent honey fraud. Make sure to review the ingredients to steer clear of any goods that include syrup or added sugar.

The primary tactic used in seafood fraud is mislabeling, where a less expensive fish is mistaken for a more costly one. The most common culprits are fish with ugly names that pass for their more expensive, prettier-sounding counterparts (toothfish for Chilean sea bass, escolar for white tuna, and threadfin slickhead for Alaskan cod). In a study done between 2010 and 2012, Oceana, an organization that promotes ocean conservation, discovered that every sushi restaurant in New York tested carried fish that was incorrectly labeled. In addition to the fact that the consumer overpays, this frequently results in fish that you wouldn’t have chosen to eat in the first place being placed on the plate. Escolar, which frequently appears in place of tuna, has histamines that can have extremely unsettling side effects; think diarrhea but with more oil. Currently, the FDA warns against the “importation and interstate marketing” of escolar, and Italy and Japan have outright banned the fish.

The most commonly deceived seafood species are snapper and tuna, so be cautious while purchasing these fish. Although Oceana’s findings might make you want to give up sushi entirely, there are tools like Trace and Trust and Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that might help.

A brief digression into conspiracy theories: As we’ve seen, seafood fraud is common, but there is a unique situation with so-called scallops that may actually be sharks, skates, or rays that have been divided into sections using a cookie cutter. The majority of scallop fraud cases have been confined to the murky world of Internet discussion forums, so it’s unclear how frequently—if at all—this replacement occurs. Even while it is even less appetizing than the infamous pork-bung calamari, the idea of cookie-cuttered scallops may still make some shudder deeply. Would you like to look at This American Life?

Vinegar Balsamic
Like wine, traditional balsamic vinegar is matured for years in oak barrels and is subject to stringent regulations. However, the market literally became diluted as balsamic vinegar reduction drizzles appeared on every restaurant table. If the bottle says “Modena,” don’t be duped (yes, the Italian city famous for balsamic).

Look for “grape must” in the ingredient list or the designation Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale to find the real deal; these indicators will ensure the vinegar has been matured for a minimum of 12 years. You don’t have to search through old Italian cellars to find an ingredient for salad dressings, but stay away from added sugar and caramel coloring.

The most costly spice in the world had no chance of remaining off this list. Genuine saffron can cost up to $2,000 per pound and is produced from the stigma of the saffron crocus. There have been reports of dried flowers of all kinds, even dyed onions, passing for the spice. How can one avoid falling into a scam? Purchase whole saffron threads, as they are far harder to imitate. Avoid bargain hunting, even though the offers could be alluring. Saffron is pricey for a reason—a gram of saffron requires 150 blossoms, but all you need to manufacture the powder that’s sitting on clearance is an onion and some orange dye.

It’s also time to fake the second most expensive spice. The most popular form of vanilla, as opposed to the more expensive whole beans, is vanilla extract, which is an aged solution of vanilla beans macerated in alcohol and water. A lot of fake vanilla is created using **vanillin, an organic substance that can be found naturally in vanilla beans but is more frequently created in a lab. It is unapologetically a less expensive, if fake, substitute. However, artificial vanillin frequently finds its way into purportedly pure extracts. If you can’t find 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde in imitation vanilla, just look at the ingredient list if you don’t have your scientific kit on hand. Vanillin is probably synthetic if it is listed. Extra sweetened? Fructose-rich corn syrup? Remain absent.

Anything brown and powdery works well to support ground coffee. If you’re lucky, you can also use coffee husks, twigs, roasted corn, or even ground-up toasted parchment paper. This is simply one more justification for purchasing whole coffee.

Instead of cinnamon, cassia is available in the majority of US stores. Ceylon, which is regarded as the “genuine” cinnamon, is connected to cassia, which is primarily grown in China or Vietnam. Compared to the lighter, more scented Ceylon bark, the cassia bark is hotter and more abrasive. While Cassia consists of a single sheet of bark, Ceylon quills are made up of numerous paper-thin layers that are rolled up, making it very easy to distinguish between the two sticks. However, once the “cinnamon” is ground, the brown dust that remains may not be Ceylon or Cassia at all. Coffee husks are the most frequent culprit in this cinnamon scam; they work well in a coffee cherry tea, if that’s your goal, but not so well in scones. On the label, look for genuine Ceylon cinnamon.

Pepper, Black
Similar to crushed cinnamon, ground black pepper is also very impossible to identify in powder form. Researchers have discovered that purported black pepper really contains papaya seeds, juniper berries, pepper stems, and chaff. Similar to coffee, it’s best to go whole in terms of taste and to stay away from adding colored starch to your supper.

The largest caviar scammer was caught a year ago after he spent 23 years evading authorities by creating a tax-evasion scheme that allowed him to sell cheap caviar to well-heeled passengers on cruise ships and airplanes. Because no one was ill and the caviar was still rather nice, the judge deemed it “a victimless crime.” However, caviar fraud is still rife, just like any rare and desirable product. Low-quality domestic caviars are frequently marketed as elegant foreign versions. But in a delightful twist on the classic bait and switch, Kentucky is really producing some of the best (and authentic) caviar.

There have been numerous allegations of milk containing melamine or even detergent or hydrogen peroxide since the Great Chinese Infant Formula Debacle of 2008, which left 54,000 babies unwell and six of them dead. Read the ingredients to avoid mixing cleaning products with your breakfast in the morning. Avoid imported milk powder completely by making one of our nut milks instead, or buying it from a nearby farm if you can’t stand the smell.

As soon as pomegranate juice gained popularity as the Next Big Superfood, there was a method to imitate it. According to a research published by the Food Fraud Database last year, pomegranate juice isn’t even present in some juices, and many are enhanced with other liquids. The primary offender is grape juice since, once a black liquid is in that ostentatious bottle, it’s anybody’s guess as to what it actually is. The other mystery ingredient is “Juice of non-authentic botanical origin.” Though even liquids branded as “100 percent pomegranate juice” can have been “enhanced,” it is still important to study the ingredients.

Unidentified Meat
While school cafeteria fare has given many nightmares, mystery meat is actually even scarier in real life than lumpy stew. Meat fraud encompasses a wide range of industrial transgressions, such as fox meat posing as a donkey or horse flesh passing for ground beef.

Fortunately, the majority of occurrences have happened outside of the United States, but the possibility of fox meat alone should make you want to get to know your butcher well.

Since the most infamous counterfeiter, Rudy Kurniawan, was found guilty last month (or at least the biggest one to be apprehended), counterfeit wine—another heavily faked luxury good that rarely elicits sympathy—has come under scrutiny, and a “thriller” documentary about it is in the works. The most prevalent types of wine fraud are passing off a lower-quality vintage for one that is well-known to command a high price or bottling an ordinary wine under an esteemed label. According to experts, five percent of wines sold are fraudulent, costing American companies $250 million in lost revenue. This shouldn’t be a problem unless you plan to fill your cellar with back-vintage Chateau Lafite. If so, however, you should be aware of the number of Ts in Lafite.

Here is how Ramen is made. Does this resemble real food at all?

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