There are so many foods out there that you think are one thing, but it turns out that you are being lied to. Everything from Extra Virgin Olive Oil that’s no more a virgin than tuesday afternoon pole dancer to expensive scallops which are actually just circles of meat punched from the wings of skates. Journalist Larry Olmsted has just published a new book on the subject called: Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It.
A big part of the problem comes down to inaccurate labeling and a lack of enforcement, but it’s amazing what people are paying for and eating, without even realizing it. For example, according to Olmsted, there are only three restaurants in the entire USA that serve real Kobe Beef. If you are at any other making the claim, it’s a lie. Another mildly disturbing example is the “White Tuna” that turns up on sushi menus. It’s not actually tuna at all, but a form of snake mackerel called escolar. When full portions of the fish are eaten, they can cause explosive, orange diarrhea due to the gempylotoxin in its system. No wonder experts refer to it as the “Ex Lax fish.”
Olmsted’s journey took him from Alaska to Italy, and all the way to Japan as he found examples of honey, rice, coffee and far more expensive luxury items that are often illicitly swapped out for cheaper and sometimes dangerous substitutes.
One scary example he points out in his book is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Many, less scrupulous, producers cut their supply with soybean or peanut oil, but never admit to it on their labeling. All it would take is for someone allergic to peanuts or soy to get ahold of some and it could kill them.
On the upside, Olmsted seemed optimistic that there’s still plenty of food out there that is exactly what it appears to be. “The good news is that there is plenty of healthful and delicious Real Food. You just have to know where to look.”