Swindled

Swindled

The Dark History of Food Fraud, From Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee

Book - 2008
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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.

Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2008.
ISBN: 9780691138206
Branch Call Number: 363.1926 W746
Characteristics: xiv, 384 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.

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thomd
Aug 12, 2012

More than just adulterated food, it's about the human condition and the basics of economy, and what we'll do to each other and ourselves if we think we can get away with it.

a
AtiPetrov
Jul 16, 2012

Quite an eye opener. A must read for anyone who cares about what they put into their body.
I was amazed at the terrible poisons used in the past and the sophistication and levels of deceit right now, in our times!

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