Swindled by Bee Wilson
The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee

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Synopsis

Bad food has a history. Swindled tells it. Through a fascinating mixture of cultural and scientific history, food politics, and culinary detective work, Bee Wilson uncovers the many ways swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and even poisoned our food throughout history. In the hands of people and corporations who have prized profits above the health of consumers, food and drink have been tampered with in often horrifying ways--padded, diluted, contaminated, substituted, mislabeled, misnamed, or otherwise faked. Swindled gives a panoramic view of this history, from the leaded wine of the ancient Romans to today's food frauds--such as fake organics and the scandal of Chinese babies being fed bogus milk powder.

Wilson pays special attention to nineteenth- and twentieth-century America and England and their roles in developing both industrial-scale food adulteration and the scientific ability to combat it. As Swindled reveals, modern science has both helped and hindered food fraudsters--increasing the sophistication of scams but also the means to detect them. The big breakthrough came in Victorian England when a scientist first put food under the microscope and found that much of what was sold as "genuine coffee" was anything but--and that you couldn't buy pure mustard in all of London.

Arguing that industrialization, laissez-faire politics, and globalization have all hurt the quality of food, but also that food swindlers have always been helped by consumer ignorance, Swindled ultimately calls for both governments and individuals to be more vigilant. In fact, Wilson suggests, one of our best protections is simply to reeducate ourselves about the joys of food and cooking.

 

About Bee Wilson

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Bee Wilson is the author of "The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us." She writes a weekly food column for London's "Sunday Telegraph" and is a former food critic for the "New Statesman." She has been named Food Journalist of the Year by the Guild of Food Writers and Food Writer of the Year by BBC Radio 4.
 
Published January 1, 2008 by John Murray. 384 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Travel, Cooking, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Swindled

The Guardian

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Swindled : From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee by Bee Wilson Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Watered-down milk, lea...

Feb 14 2009 | Read Full Review of Swindled: The Dark History of...

The Guardian

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Swindled : From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop ...

Jan 25 2009 | Read Full Review of Swindled: The Dark History of...

The Guardian

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Swindled by Bee Wilson 400pp, John Murray, £16.99 In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan 256pp, Allen Lane, £16.99 According to Bee Wilson and Michael Pollan we are all going to hell in a supermarket cart.

Feb 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Swindled: The Dark History of...

The Guardian

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Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson John Murray £16.99, pp384 There's a New Yorker cartoon on my wall that depicts two cavemen sitting crosslegged together.

Mar 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Swindled: The Dark History of...

Publishers Weekly

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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 SUP...

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Englewood Review of Books

Main topics will include: health and safety issues sometimes confronted when farming urban sites, how to mend soil if health concerns are discovered in the soil, what crops are best suited for Indianapolis and environs and related garden growing hints, and lastly how to share the bounty from urba...

Jun 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Swindled: The Dark History of...

New Scientist

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Sep 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Swindled: The Dark History of...

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