Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee

Bee Wilson, Author
Bee Wilson, Author Princeton University Press $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-691-13820-6
Reviewed on: 09/08/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-0-7195-6776-6
Hardcover - 370 pages - 978-0-7195-6785-8
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COLUMNIST AND FOOD WRITER WILSON TAKES READERS TO THE BEGINNING OF THE 19TH CENTURY TO DOCUMENT THE HISTORY OF FOOD ADULTERATION\x81\AT HEART \x81GTWO VERY SIMPLE PRINCIPLES: POISONING AND CHEATING.\x81H 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 \x81GSWILL MILK\x81H EPIDEMIC AND CHICAGO'S MEAT PACKING INDUSTRY WOULD EVENTUALLY LEAD TO THE 1906 PURE FOOD AND DRUG ACT\x81\WHICH PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE PASSED WITHOUT THE POPULARITY OF UPTON SINCLAIR\x81FS MEAT PACKING EXPOSE THE JUNGLE, AND COULDN\x81FT 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, AND CLOSE SOME MOUTHS.
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