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Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud,…
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Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to… (2016)

by Bee Wilson

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An interesting overview of an overlooked aspect of modern and historical life. Google-searching aplenty was required for all of the historical adulterants and chemical compounds which were unfamiliar to me. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
Wilson has written a comprehensive guide to adulterations, alterations, and substitutions made to our food, ranging from Romans sweetening wine with lead to GMO crops in the modern day. Fascinating! (My status updates contain the examples that most struck me.) Wilson's theory is that there will always be attempts to save money or effort by cheating or changing how food is made. Particularly, swindles like making fake eggs out of chemicals or fake tea by carefully coloring and curling tree leaves will happen when the costs of raw materials are high and human labor is cheap. The most effective ways to prevent these counterfeits are: make people aware of what quality food tastes like, so they are aware of when they're lied to. Someone who knows what real milk tastes like is a lot less likely to pay money for whitened water, for instance. Put regulations in place to protect consumers, as in the medieval guild systems or through the government. Regulators have to test constantly and stay on the forefront of science, and these regulations have to have serious consequences. It seems relatively simple, but Wilson documents how time and time again, just agreeing on regulations is hardly done, and even then, enforcement starts strong and rapidly becomes lax or outmoded. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
From the title of the book I was worried that it would glorify in the gross out factor. Fortunately, it was nothing like that.

This book handles the idea of food tampering since the 1800s through now, from a scientific and historical point of view. The book discusses various methods of food tampering and focuses on how science has made it a race to keep up with dangerous swindles before they affect people. There is also a strong focus on the development of food purity laws, and how both the government and the individual must work together to combat food tampering.

The end of the book concentrates on the 20th and 21st century, discussing preservatives, artificial sweetners, genetically modified food and world obesity issues. There are certain points where it feels as though the author has gotten on the proverbial soapbox. If you can ignore this and focus on the information she is providing, then the book is well worth the read. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
From the title of the book I was worried that it would glorify in the gross out factor. Fortunately, it was nothing like that.

This book handles the idea of food tampering since the 1800s through now, from a scientific and historical point of view. The book discusses various methods of food tampering and focuses on how science has made it a race to keep up with dangerous swindles before they affect people. There is also a strong focus on the development of food purity laws, and how both the government and the individual must work together to combat food tampering.

The end of the book concentrates on the 20th and 21st century, discussing preservatives, artificial sweetners, genetically modified food and world obesity issues. There are certain points where it feels as though the author has gotten on the proverbial soapbox. If you can ignore this and focus on the information she is providing, then the book is well worth the read. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
From the title of the book I was worried that it would glorify in the gross out factor. Fortunately, it was nothing like that.

This book handles the idea of food tampering since the 1800s through now, from a scientific and historical point of view. The book discusses various methods of food tampering and focuses on how science has made it a race to keep up with dangerous swindles before they affect people. There is also a strong focus on the development of food purity laws, and how both the government and the individual must work together to combat food tampering.

The end of the book concentrates on the 20th and 21st century, discussing preservatives, artificial sweetners, genetically modified food and world obesity issues. There are certain points where it feels as though the author has gotten on the proverbial soapbox. If you can ignore this and focus on the information she is providing, then the book is well worth the read. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691138206, Hardcover)

Bad food has a history. Swindled tells it. Through a fascinating mixture of cultural and scientific history, food politics, and culinary detective work, Bee Wilson uncovers the many ways swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and even poisoned our food throughout history. In the hands of people and corporations who have prized profits above the health of consumers, food and drink have been tampered with in often horrifying ways--padded, diluted, contaminated, substituted, mislabeled, misnamed, or otherwise faked. Swindled gives a panoramic view of this history, from the leaded wine of the ancient Romans to today's food frauds--such as fake organics and the scandal of Chinese babies being fed bogus milk powder.

Wilson pays special attention to nineteenth- and twentieth-century America and England and their roles in developing both industrial-scale food adulteration and the scientific ability to combat it. As Swindled reveals, modern science has both helped and hindered food fraudsters--increasing the sophistication of scams but also the means to detect them. The big breakthrough came in Victorian England when a scientist first put food under the microscope and found that much of what was sold as "genuine coffee" was anything but--and that you couldn't buy pure mustard in all of London.

Arguing that industrialization, laissez-faire politics, and globalization have all hurt the quality of food, but also that food swindlers have always been helped by consumer ignorance, Swindled ultimately calls for both governments and individuals to be more vigilant. In fact, Wilson suggests, one of our best protections is simply to reeducate ourselves about the joys of food and cooking.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:58 -0400)

From the Publisher: Bad food has a history. Swindled tells it. Through a fascinating mixture of cultural and scientific history, food politics, and culinary detective work, Bee Wilson uncovers the many ways swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and even poisoned our food throughout history. In the hands of people and corporations who have prized profits above the health of consumers, food and drink have been tampered with in often horrifying ways-padded, diluted, contaminated, substituted, mislabeled, misnamed, or otherwise faked. Swindled gives a panoramic view of this history, from the leaded wine of the ancient Romans to today's food frauds-such as fake organics and the scandal of Chinese babies being fed bogus milk powder. Wilson pays special attention to nineteenth-and twentieth-century America and England and their roles in developing both industrial-scale food adulteration and the scientific ability to combat it. As Swindled reveals, modern science has both helped and hindered food fraudsters-increasing the sophistication of scams but also the means to detect them. The big breakthrough came in Victorian England when a scientist first put food under the microscope and found that much of what was sold as genuine coffee was anything but-and that you couldn't buy pure mustard in all of London. Arguing that industrialization, laissez-faire politics, and globalization have all hurt the quality of food, but also that food swindlers have always been helped by consumer ignorance, Swindled ultimately calls for both governments and individuals to be more vigilant. In fact, Wilson suggests, one of our best protections is simply to reeducate ourselves about the joys of food and cooking.… (more)

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