Fake food has me fuming

olivie oil

I’ve been known to purchase a fake Louis Vuitton handbag out of the trunk of a rusty old pick up truck for $39.99.  I know its fake because the real thing would set me back about $500.

Good thing that doesn’t happen with groceries, right? Well, let me introduce you to the sneaky world of counterfeit food. It never occurred to me that cheap food is probably a forgery as well.

I was grocery shopping with a friend the other day.  As we worked our way through the produce section, I commented that I was out of garlic – an ingredient I put in practically everything that comes out of my kitchen.

Garlic_cloves He pointed out a bin of fresh garlic that was right under my nose, but I hastily shook my head…I wanted the kind that comes in a bottle, already chopped up and good to go. Much more economical, I thought. He turned up his nose and defiantly picked up a handful of garlic heads.

“Those aren’t really garlic cloves, you know,” he said under his breath pointing to my bottled variety.

“What?  It says so right here on the label,” I retorted.  “What is it then, chopped daylily bulbs?”

I tried to read the ingredients, but they were written in minus 16 point type – I couldn’t have read it with a telescope!  But he’d made his point, and I was beginning to be a little distrustful of the bottled variety of “garlic.”

Heck, half the time I can’t get the stupid jar open and have to walk outside in hopes of finding a muscle bound man walking by. In the same amount of time it takes me to wrench the lid off, I could have smashed and minced 40 cloves of garlic.

I put back the bottle and bought a few heads of “real” garlic, which will probably die in the vegetable drawer before I get to use them.

Low and behold, “Good morning America” did a segment today on “Fake Food.” Apparently the practice of counterfeiting food has become more common than I realized.

As the economy continues to head South, manufacturers are diluting their products to make them stretch.  Honey is often cut with the less healthy corn syrup, and no one’s the wiser.  Olive oil is diluted with less healthy soybean oil. Farm raised salmon is fed red dye pellets to get the red color of the more healthy wild caught fish.

Some of the worst offenders of counterfeiting are those off-brands sold in dollar stores and discount houses, reported Robin Roberts.  If the price is significantly different than name brands, buyer beware, she said.

Oh Lord, I’m a sucker for deeply discounted products.  I have off-brand hot sauce, worchestershire sauce, and vinegars.  I even purchased a jar of “Panned Peanut Butter” that looked just like the Peter Pan brand. It wasn’t until I got it home that I discovered the subterfuge.  Betcha money I got some salmonella to go along with it.

ButterOil RaspberryBalsamicVinegar 01 framed[4] Moving up the deceit scale, what we call “balsamic vinegar” may not be that at all.  If a bottle of balsamic vinegar costs less than $100, it’s probably not the real thing, writes one food editor.  How’s that again?  The last bottle I bought was $2.99.  He claims authentic balsamic vinegar is aged for at least 12 years in a succession of wooden casks. Doubt that’s going for $2.99.

No wonder I’m not crazy about balsamic vinegar. I’ve probably never had it!

What’s a shopper to do?  I guess I’ll have to spring for the pricier “name brands” and hope it’s what I think it is.

4 thoughts on “Fake food has me fuming

  1. Cuz,
    I have to be sooo careful because of that with my food sensitivities which include gluten (barley, oats, rye, WHEAT, and things like spelt), dairy, eggs, dietary yeast and soy.
    Before the new allergy labeling law went into effect (it’s still not being enforced and is confusing), I had to (at first) carry a long list of chemical names with me to the store so that I could figure out which ingredients were made from which (if any) food that I can’t eat, before I had them memorized. Turns out most of those chemicals are made from something “natural” which is usually either wheat or soy, or so it seems.
    Now, there are some stores I just hardly ever shop in — low end ones, mainly, but since I’ve only time to shop one store, I usually end up buying what I do eat at Whole Foods. Even there, I have to read EVERY label, and now, I won’t even bother to read a label with more than a few ingredients, and usually, they are written in plan ole food words.

    Anyway, it’s a pretty stupid business move putting corn or soy into a product line since so many are sensitive or allergic to it, and more people are developing food issues all the time — much more than in the past.

    Welp, I’m late for a meeting if I don’t get going.

  2. Hi there,

    I’ve learned an awful lot about food since being diagnosed, and believe me, we have to be proactive in terms of what we purchase to eat these days. My rule of thumb (or was that tum?) is to eat as little processed food as possible, and then, only the ones with the fewest obvious ingredients. I also try to buy as much home grown produce as possible, and organic when it’s feasible, frequently frozen organic as it’s actually fresher than the so-called “fresh produce” that comes from California.
    Consumers are driving the market, and you can see it at stores that aren’t at the absolute lowest end in terms of ranking stores.

    Unfortunately, the more rural areas of the country don’t have an abundance of stores to chose from as we do here in the big city, but the advantage might be that there may be farmers near you who produce things that are pretty much organic if not totally organic. Also, it’s easier for you to check out the beef suppliers and chicken at local farms than in the middle of a urban area.

    You will be amazed at how good food tastes once you go back to eating it the way your grandparents ate it. You’ll get back taste buds (without the food enhancing chemicals) that you thought were gone forever!
    Even on my more restrictive diet with my disease, I now have so much more variety in my meals that it’s not the same old two plus two. It’s really gotten me out of the rut of the typical American diet, thankfully.

    My diet is much more difficult and complicated than most of yours need to be, and still, I have great meals and still enjoy eating. Turns out, now that I have to cook most things, that it tastes better than eating out ever could.


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