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Navigating Fake Food

Sep 27, 2023 | Daily Trek, Tales from the Trek

Navigating Fake Food - Radical Trekking - Ayelet Baron

Fake food challenges our trust, drains our wallets, and jeopardizes our health. And this fake food industry costs honest producers $40 billion and puts our wellbeing on the line.

But what is so heartbreaking is that this industry is booming and we don’t question the source of increased diseases. Why are there companies and even criminal organizations making money by offering knock-off versions of everything from truffle oil to coffee? So, what does this really mean for us?

Olive oil has a long history of fakes. Extra virgin olive oil comes from fresh olives and involve zero chemicals. Yet, many bottles on the shelves are blends or inferior oils masquerading as the real stuff. If you want the real deal, look for “Extra Virgin” on the label and check the “pressed on” date.

Coffee has its own fakes. Some blends sneak in burnt paper or corn. Opt for whole-bean coffee and grind it yourself to ensure better quality. Similarly, saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, faces counterfeits made of dyed plants. To spot genuine saffron, look for strands that release color slowly in water and fall apart easily.

And take truffle oil, for example. We ‘believe we’re getting a luxurious flavor when it’s drizzled it on our food. The truth? It’s often made from a synthetic compound, not real truffles. Real truffles are rare and expensive; black ones take six years to grow. So, when we eat truffle fries, we’re likely tasting something far from the real deal.

Maple syrup offers another cautionary tale. Authentic syrup comes from sap, mostly from Canada. But many times, what we pour on our pancakes is just corn syrup with flavoring. Real maple syrup and fake syrup don’t even look the same; the genuine article is thinner and cloudier.

Choosing fish involves navigating health risks and environmental concerns. A Guardian Seascape study analyzed over 9,000 seafood samples from more than 30 countries. The study showed a 36% mislabeling rate, uncovering widespread seafood fraud around the world. This deception not only inflates the price but also risks your health if you don’t know the fish’s origin and how people handled it.

Wasabi is no exception. Most of us have probably never tasted the real thing. Real wasabi, a rare and pricey plant, offers a milder, nuanced flavor compared to its common horseradish substitute.

Even cheese gets faked. Genuine Parmesan cheese hails from a specific Italian region and needs time to age. Many fake versions skimp on aging and add fillers. Honey faces the same issue. A lot of it isn’t pure but mixed with other sweeteners, reducing its health benefits.

So, how do we navigate this? First, stay aware. Conscious choices make all the difference when we question what is healthy + authentic and what is toxic + fake to our wellbeing. Second, buy local direct from sustainable farms. And most importantly, seeing is believing. If you watch truffles getting shaved or wasabi being grated, you’re more likely to get authentic food.

In essence, fake food isn’t just about tricking us to pay more. It also highlights the shortcuts we take for convenience or savings, which deprive us of the health benefits of real, quality ingredients. It’s not just about savoring the taste; it’s about cherishing what’s real in a world brimming with fakes; whether it’s food, news or people. Staying aware in our choices steers us toward a healthier, more genuine food experience, crucial for our overall wellbeing.

Quality sleep, balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and being free from toxicity lead to longevity and excellent health.

So, can we pay close attention to what we consume, apply to our skin, plug into the wall and experience? At the end of the day, there is no blueprint to living a healthy life. It’s all about questioning the source of everything.

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