Arts, Culture & Media

Scandals in the food industry

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BW says history seems to repeat itself on food fraud. She talks about the example of candy in her book's title: we think of candy now being a worrying substance because of the additives in it. But children's candy in the 19th century were colored with lead and other derivatives which are actually poisons. BW isn't saying food today aren't deliberately poisoned, but the average food choices in a regular supermarket aren't as great as they seem: supermarket food doesn't always count as food as well. If you know what you're cooking then there's better options than in the past. But for the people who don't know how to cook, I worry about them because everything they're buying is deceptive and might not be good for their health. (But food is fairly reasonably priced.) Yes but if you look at these foods, like margarine or butter is a classic example, margarine is sometimes sold with all these supposed health benefits, but in the past it almost cost nothing to produce compared to butter but the price of it has always been very close to butter. The same can be said with snack foods. They seem cheap but much of is based on the fact that it's an approximation of real cheese, for example. And it's not, and it probably costs the manufacturers almost nothing to produce.

(Now we're at the supermarket and one might think roasted chicken is a healthy choice. Is it?) Not as healthy as you'd hope. The basic fat content for chicken has transformed since the 1970s. there used to be much more protein than fat in chicken. (What did they do to them?) What didn't they do? they keep them in dark sheds and didn't let them get out and fed them horrible things. So whatever you do to this chicken, it's still not going to be a good food. (Here we are in the bread aisle and there are tons of options.) By my definition, most of what we're looking at isn't bread at all. Sliced white comes with a lots of bleaches, but let's look at this 100% whole wheat bread. But bread really only needs flour, salt, yeast, and this one has tons of chemicals. So really it looks like a nice choice but it's not that different than the bleached white breads. (But it's so much cheaper than natural artisan-made breads.) And that's the trouble. If artisans sold more, the price would come down.

BW says some of the blame for food fraud can be blamed at globalization: swindling is something that's happened for centuries but only does it become an endemic problem in post-industrial societies and when you have these long food chains between the producer and consumer, this food fraud takes effect. If you add a globalized economy into this, the chain gets that much longer. (What is the effect in the developing world?) Some terrible things. It's been said that the most adulterated food in the whole of Asia is sold in the markets of Bangladesh where the markets are rife with corrupted foods. And a big problem is also hunger and when they do have food, they know what goes into a loaf of bread because they're making it themselves. So the subsistence economies, adulteration is the least of their problems because they're just trying to get enough to eat.

In Arts, Culture & MediaHealth & MedicineConflict & Justice.

Tagged: AsiaBangladeshAsiafoodhealthcrime.