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“Olmsted makes you insanely hungry and steaming mad--a must-read for anyone who cares deeply about the safety of our food and the welfare of our planet.” —Steven Raichlen, author of the Barbecue! Bible series
“The world is full of delicious, lovingly crafted foods that embody the terrain, weather, and culture of their origins. Unfortunately, it’s also full of brazen impostors. In this entertaining and important book, Olmsted helps us fall in love with the real stuff and steer clear of the fraudsters.” —Kirk Kardashian, author of Milk Money: Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm
You’ve seen the headlines: Parmesan cheese made from wood pulp. Lobster rolls containing no lobster at all. Extra-virgin olive oil that isn’t. So many fake foods are in our supermarkets, our restaurants, and our kitchen cabinets that it’s hard to know what we’re eating anymore. In Real Food / Fake Food, award-winning journalist Larry Olmsted convinces us why real food matters and empowers consumers to make smarter choices.
Olmsted brings readers into the unregulated food industry, revealing the shocking deception that extends from high-end foods like olive oil, wine, and Kobe beef to everyday staples such as coffee, honey, juice, and cheese. It’s a massive bait and switch in which counterfeiting is rampant and in which the consumer ultimately pays the price.
But Olmsted does more than show us what foods to avoid. A bona fide gourmand, he travels to the sources of the real stuff to help us recognize what to look for, eat, and savor: genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy, fresh-caught grouper from Florida, authentic port from Portugal. Real foods that are grown, raised, produced, and prepared with care by masters of their craft. Part cautionary tale, part culinary crusade, Real Food / Fake Food is addictively readable, mouthwateringly enjoyable, and utterly relevant.
Olmsted, who writes the "Great American Bites" column for USA Today, boldly walks readers through a course in food authenticity that covers olive oil, cheese, Champagne, seafood, steak, coffee, and more. Readers will be inspired by his intensity and clarity, and floored by how far some counterfeiters go to fool consumers and some historic food institutions go to protect their products and their names. Olmsted's research is impressive, and he lets no stone go unturned. He lets the terrifying facts speak for themselves, adding just a little humor. The method for creating Parmigiano-Reggiano is a time-honored tradition used for hundreds of years; Olmsted warns that "because counterfeiting the King of Cheeses has become a global pastime, will be augmented with security holograms." But security measures haven't stopped stores and restaurants from making false claims on the food they serve. In one study of lobster dishes from independent eateries and big chains, "more than a third of the dishes did not contain lobster"at all. One eatery sold lobster ravioli that did not even have any seafood in it at all, just cheese. Olmsted's sharp language will hopefully put fires under counterfeiters everywhere, and he alerts shoppers to use a keener eye and a more questioning mind when choosing a restaurant or grocery aisle. With the guiding hand of a good friend and prose that keeps the reader's eye moving, Olmsted insists that readers "shop better and cook more."