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"Bee Wilson is a terrific writer who tells great stories, and her book could not be more timely given what's going on in the Chinese food industry today."—Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and What to Eat
"No other book tells the history of food adulteration in this way. Swindled is ambitious in its coverage and extremely well written."—Andrew F. Smith, editor of the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink
"In this engaging study, Wilson narrates the history of food adulteration in Britain and the US. According to the author, this history is essentially the account of an epic battle between the science of deception and the science of detection. . . . This volume will amply reward the growing number of readers concerned about both food authenticity and food safety."—D.M. Gilbert, Choice
"I recommend Swindled for undergraduate history courses on food, culture, or public policy, but it is worth noting that Wilson drops the historian's dispassionate analysis when discussing modern topics. Here her normative frame becomes clear (one I embrace as a citizen if not as a historian); she is a crusading reformer against today's 'adulterated' foods laden with additives, preservatives, vitamin and mineral supplements, flavorings, and sweeteners."—James A. Spiller, Journal of American History
Columnist and food writer Wilson takes readers to the beginning of the 19th century to document the history of food adulteration-at heart "two very simple principles: poisoning and cheating." Concentrating on Britain and the U.S. (other countries, especially France, navigated food supply industrialization with wiser government policy), Wilson finds the first food crusader in Frederick Accum, a German immigrant who used chemistry to expose the dishonesty of London food purveyors in his Treatise on Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons; she finds the first ineffective government response in Parliament's commitment to laissez faire economic policies over citizen safety. In the U.S., New York's 1850s "swill milk" epidemic and Chicago's meat packing industry would eventually lead to the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act-which probably wouldn't have passed without the popularity of Upton Sinclair's meat packing expose The Jungle, and couldn't stop the most nefarious and prevalent of food frauds, the development of fake foods: margarine, baby formula and thousands more. Wilson follows the economic, cultural and political threads skillfully, reporting on developments as recent as the China baby formula scandal. Prescribing more awareness and regulation, Wilson contends that consumers and governments must recognize the continuous pressure on companies to make money by substituting nutritious, genuine ingredients with adulterants. Timely, witty and purposeful, this thorough history should open a lot of eyes. .
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Chapter 1: German Ham and English Pickles 1
Chapter 2: A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread 46
Chapter 3: Government Mustard 94
Chapter 4: Pink Margarine and Pure Ketchup 152
Chapter 5: Mock Goslings and Pear-nanas 213
Chapter 6: Basmati Rice and Baby Milk 272
Epilogue: Adulteration in the Twenty-fi rst Century 322
Picture Credits 365
Posted June 19, 2009
It's amazing to know that governments and people have become so good at shutting our eyes to the adulteration and toxicity of food and drink. This has been going on for hundreds of years. Known by all and celebrated in song. Greed, lack of oversight and no regulations in all countries seem to be the common thread. This is an enjoyable read. Indeed, it is "food for thought".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.