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The 6 Creepiest Lies the Food Industry Is Feeding You

By Pauli PoisuoCracked

As we’ve talked about before, the food industry is based almost entirely on a series of lies that, quite frankly, most of us just prefer to believe (“‘All natural?’ Sounds healthy to me!”). But we have to draw the line somewhere, right? Especially when the food you buy has nothing to do with what it says on the label.


#6. Your Honey and Spices Are Fake

If you’re like us and you only use spices to impress the opposite sex with the illusion that you know what to do with them, then it’s possible that you don’t even really know what that stuff is supposed to be made of. And that’s exactly where the food industry wants you, if they’re going to sell you fake bootleg spices.

The Horror:

Take honey, for example. You’d think it’s a pretty straightforward product — bees make it, bears steal it from the bees, you eat it. Or something. But the truth is that pretty much all the major players in the industry knowingly buy their honey from dodgy sources in China — a country that, for instance, has no qualms in purveying pepper that is entirely made from mud.

Bootleg Chinese honey frequently has all of the pollen filtered out of it to disguise its origin, and it’s then cut like back-alley cocaine with cheap corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. The FDA says that a substance can’t legally be called “honey” if it contains no pollen, and yet most of the stuff tested from the main retailers contained not a trace of it.

Soy sauce is another thing you’d assume no one would feel the need to fabricate, seeing as soy isn’t exactly a rare commodity. Again, you’d be wrong. Proper soy sauce takes a pretty long time to make, so many manufacturers have started producing an imitation product that takes only three days to make and has a longer shelf life. It is made from something called “hydrolyzed vegetable proteins,” as well as caramel coloring, salt, and our good old friend corn syrup. Most of the soy sauce that you get in packets with your sushi is actually this fake stuff. But at least it comes with wasabi, too, right? If by “wasabi” you mean “horseradish mixed with mustard.” Let’s face it, you probably weren’t even served by a real Japanese person.

The worst offender is possibly saffron. The real stuff is up there with the most expensive spices at roughly $10,000 per pound. That’s especially impressive, considering that a lot of “top-quality” saffron consists of roughly 10 percent actual saffron. The rest is just random, worthless plant bits, ground up and mixed with the real thing.

And that’s what you get when you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you get the complete forgery: saffron-flavored gelatin. Its appearance is convincing enough, until you put it in water and it completely dissolves, leaving behind little more than a bland aftertaste and a patch of froth shaped like a middle finger.

This article excerpt was written by Pauli Poisuo and published in Cracked on June 18, 2012. Photo by Marisa Ross/Flickr.

Next: Your Chicken Is Pumped Full Of Weird Liquids

9 thoughts on “Food Industry Lies: Fake Honey, Soy Sauce, And Spices”

  1. so tired of being treated like an idiot by the big agro! Just tired.
    Saw some really expensive saffron in a spice store… I wonder if it might be real…

  2. Saffron substitution isn’t a new thing. It’s been going on since saffron started being used. It was rife in the Middle Ages – no gelatin then, but often other stamens, sometimes red silk (which wouldn’t dissolve), other reddish and yellowish spices, and even just reddish dust. Kinda hard to get worked up at the modern agro-industrial complex about something even Alexander the Great had a hard time sourcing properly. ‘Course they used to execute the folks caught substituting junk for saffron.

  3. Wow, I buy local but knew nothing about what is above. Watched a cooking contest on TV a month or so ago where one of the contestants’ dishes was critisized for having a metallic taste. The poor woman had used pine nuts! I live in Texas, which is politically neanderthal but for real local food, it is the place to be. Glad to have found this site!

  4. Heard about the HFCS ‘honey’ but not about spice frauds. Thank you. I buy my honey locally and ship some to my NYC friends. Will be viligent re: spices. Thanks for the good info.

  5. And don’t forget the Chinese pine nuts. I put some in a recipe and ate them. They tasted OK, but then I had a horrid metallic taste in my mouth that nothing would shift. I googled. I found that the problem is common with Chinese pine nuts, although not with authentic Italian ones. Really disappointing to me is that Waitrose, an upscale UK supermarket that stocks a lot of organic foods, carries Chinese pine nuts and no other. Now I won’t even eat anything in a restaurant if I suspect a pine nut has been anywhere near the dish I’m considering; the two-weeks of miserable aftertaste was horrible, and I’ll do without pine nuts to avoid a repeat.

  6. Uhhhhh…., where are the other lies.., there are supposed to be six! You lured me into your beta test and then pull out a fib for an article to do it with! Shame on you! You just lost me!

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