Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: Real Food, Fake Food by Larry Olmsted

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this product, free of charge,from Algonquin Books, via Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It

Real Food, Fake Food ncover


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.


"Unless you are leaving the supermarket via the “8 Items or Less” express lane, 
something in your cart is likely fake"

The idea behind that statement is that just about any processed or handled food, in a grocery item will be fake, altered or mislabeled. In these modern days of public awareness and scrutiny, thanks to the internet. it may come as a huge surprise to some readers of this book, about how much in our food is FAKE or a lie. I was not surprised to find out that Asian catfish is frequently substituted for tilapia or grouper, as every time I have had either of those, I hate their taste, and I abhor the taste of catfish, so it now makes sense (and yes, I know that is unSouthern, but I grew up with river trout and salmon, whole other world!). It was surprising to read about shrimp, lobster and crawfish, however, and it made me grateful to live in Louisiana, where I can literally buy shrimp and crawfish off the boat in 8 different places nearby! But it made me rethink buying any seafood at any national restaurant chain again!

Add in chapters on Parmesan cheese- fake and real, beef, fruit juice and more, and your head will be spinning! It is amazing what is allowed by the FDA, and what isn't. Common sense seems to have gone out the window. But being aware of the problems if the first step, as when consumer pressure forced Kraft to change their macaroni and cheese, the consumer dollar can be the key player to get companies to change. And Olmsted gives a great chapter on just what we as consumers can do to get things changed. But the key is awareness. Once you know, you will question, and that is how changes get made. I really recommend that everyone read this book and learn the truth and be better informed consumers!

About the Author:

Larry Olmsted writes the "Great American Bites" column for USA Today, and his column on travel and food, "The Great Life," appears on A contributing editor to, Olmsted was named one of the 10 Most Extreme U.S. Journalists by the Society of Professional Journalists, and his column was named one of the World's Top 100 Travel Sites. A longtime member of the Society of American Travel Writers and Golf Writers Association of America, for over two decades he has written extensively on food, wine, and spirit topics, including regional food specialties, production, health, consumer issues, celebrity chefs, and restaurants worldwide. He frequently participates as an expert food panelist and regularly appears on national and locally syndicated radio shows, including NPR's All Things Considered, as a food expert. His exposé on counterfeit Kobe beef for was widely covered by newspapers, websites, and radio shows around the world. Olmsted, who has visited more than forty countries around the globe, is the author of two books on golf and, most recently, Getting into Guinness (and in the process personally set or broke three world records). He and his wife live in Vermont.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a very interesting read. I would be interested in learning more about this subject!


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