Food Trends

Fake Food

olive-oilPIXDishonesty on food packages by omission or commission runs rampant. Creative writers who label a banana as “gluten free” or a jar of nuts as having “no cholesterol” get credit (or criticism).

We’re smarter than that. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley – never bananas; cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods.

But fake food is beyond deceptive descriptors. Fake food is intentionally substituting one food (always cheaper) for another. And unless we’re at our lab station, we rarely know. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine July/August issue lists the top 9 foods most likely to be fake:

  • olive oil
  • fish and seafood
  • milk and milk-based products
  • honey, maple syrup and other natural sweeteners
  • fruit juice
  • coffee and tea
  • spices
  • organic foods and products
  • clouding agents

Excepting the “clouding agents” which are even murky to me, I can certainly picture how bait-and-switch goes on. Water and sugar are added to fruit juice; twigs and leaves in the ground coffee; corn syrup diluting the maple syrup…but olive oil is tough and fish is even more difficult to distinguish.

Just as we love buying local, buying US products can help decrease the chance of fraudulent food. The FDA and USDA have standards (admittedly some are voluntary) but a very small percentage of the total food universe is inspected so we can’t be 100% certain of our food’s pedigree. But, we can probably all admit, that’s better than wildly fraudulent labeling in other countries. Buy from a reputable purveyor and get a bit of background on the product.

Regarding extra virgin olive oil – it is expensive, has a distinctive color and flavor and will be in a dark bottle with the harvest date often noted. The California Olive Oil Council and North American Olive Oil Association have standards and your bottle may indicate that those standards are followed. We switched from an Italian olive oil to a California product a couple years ago sourced through a reliable farm.

If you’re eating for your health, it’s worth a bit of investigation to be well,


PS Let’s talk fish in another Minute.


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Here we go again

confusedeyesPIXIn another brilliant move, the Food and Drug Administration announced it will look at food labels again. They intend to answer the question: does the word “healthy” mean what we think it means?

The “process could take years to complete” according to a May 11 Wall Street Journal article.

This is akin to the pest control guy coming to your door, releasing a vial of termites and then telling you that you have termites. If the government wouldn’t have messed with food labels to start with, we wouldn’t need this years long process.

It’s not just the years, but the money spent doing this. Costs that will be passed along to the consumer!

But, isn’t more information better? Won’t we make better food choices with better front of package labeling?

Let’s see, we’ve been adding regulations and words to our food labels for years. Do we look like we we’re using the information? As a nation, are getting healthier? Studies suggest we talk the talk and say we want more info but we don’t walk the walk and use the info.

I, for one, don’t need any additional information on my label. Print the ingredient list larger and that’s it. I can figure out almonds alone are healthy than when they’re covered with caramel and chocolate. I don’t need a label trying to tell me a candy bar is an “energy bar”…

How about you? What do you want to see on your food label to eat well and be well?


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