- Title: Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, From Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee
- Author: Bee Wilson
- Year: 2008
- Type: Nonfiction
In the epilogue to this book, Wilson writes:
The story of adulteration has been a story of the repeated failure of modern politics to value consumer interests above those of the market.
This summarises not only the problem but also the contents of the book. Starting in the age of industrialisation, Wilson provides a panoply of examples not only of adulterated, falsified, or otherwise sketchy food fobbed off on consumers, but also of legistators neglecting to do anything about it. She follows these examples all the way through the modern day, when we may not be buying candies filled out with arsenic or coloured with lead, but we continue to face deceptive practices like meats injected with water.
The book is dense, with longer than expected chapters and abundant references (which, thankfully, are collected at the end rather than included as footnotes). She’s done a great deal of research and it shows. That density lends the book a more serious tone than Consider the Fork, another work of hers that I’ve read and enjoyed, but considering the topic this tone is justified.
It took me a while to get through it, but I’m glad I did. Even though I already have a lot of knowledge on this subject, having read several books and following blogs on it, I’m glad I spent the time with this one. It’s a valuable history of food-related scams.