After reading or listening to this book, you will never think of or look at food the same way again.
Larry Olmsted, who is a long-time food column writer and self-proclaimed foodie, does an excellent job of revealing the many lies, mostly against the American people, when it comes to food and what we consume. What is even more scary is that the American Government often turns its back and permits food fraud; often without repercussions to the thief. For the audiobook version, Jonathan Yen does an exceptional job of bringing the book to life by giving a professional narration. I am not a foodie as I was raised on the (wood pulp) cheese that comes in a green can from Kraft Foods which I sprinkled heavily on my pasta, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was often shocked at how easily we are duped into accepting an inferior product because of our lack of knowledge. Can you tell the difference of a “Kobe” burger from one that is instead made of a beef blend? This book opened my eyes and made me think twice when thinking about paying for that Kobe burger at my local chain restaurant.
If you have ever bought cheese, meat, cooking oils, fish, sushi, wine, anything organic, etc. expecting you were getting what you were paying for, often at a higher or at times adsorbent price, more time than not you were sold a different or inferior product to what you expected. At times this can be simply deception or a moral issue, while at other times a substituted product can cause illness or even death. Mr. Olmsted unwraps this complex issue of paying for real food while due to our never having the real thing to base our taste upon, we are served fake food in its place. This is not saying the food you receive is not actual food (think plastic fruit), but instead he shows that what you pay for and often what you receive are two very different items. If you go home happy after eating that tuna sushi you may ask what all the issues are, but if you later learned the tuna was actually a farmed fish from China that had been fed antibiotics, you may feel differently.
A few of the examples he provides in this book include regional foods such as Champagne, Parmigiana cheese, and Kobe beef; along with many other examples. What is even more surprising is that the U.S. Government often turns a blind eye to these blatant lies under the guise of definitions or politics. Of the two organizations in the U.S. that are regulated to protect and monitor our food supplies, neither want to take the overwhelming task of putting a stop to food robbery. Mr. Olmsted give a few good examples of how the U.S. protects its own exported intellectual property such as autos and software/hardware. They will not tolerate another country starting up a Microsoft Corporation making a fake version of Windows software. Or a new Chinese Cadillac car company that produces fake models of these vehicles. However, when it comes to the import and protection of products from other countries to the U.S., they become hypocrites. I was shocked to learn that many other countries have treaties protecting product from other countries, yet the U.S. does not participate in them.
From a narrative perspective, Jonathan Yen professionally told the story. I could not notice any audio artifacts or other issues with the recording while listening. This is the quality I would come to expect from a narrator that have over 109 titles on Audible; nearly all with 4 or 5 stars. I will be looking at listening to more of his work in the future, I enjoyed his voice and reading speed that much.
The book is a solid delve into this overlooked subject and can be enjoyed buy foodies and non-foodies alike. What would I have changed or removed from the book? I did not care for the recipe sections at the end of most chapters, but for someone that is passionate about food and the products discussed in the chapter, this may be a welcomed section. I think it is important to be educated about the food we put in our bodies and ask why would you pay more for something that is not what you thought it was. After reading this book, I now think twice about what menus tell me and often instead go with the safe basic option instead of overpaying.