The IPKat has been thoroughly enjoying reading his copy of Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats, by academic-turned-food-writer Bee Wilson. If the publisher (John Murray) has a web-page with data concerning this book, the IPKat failed to find it despite the best offices of Google. However, you can buy it on the usual book-sale websites. Listeners to BBC Radio 4 will recognise this book as having been serialised some months ago.

The author sets out to describe and explain the reasons why foods are adulterated and products are counterfeited, raising some interesting philosophical questions as to when an recipe is an adulteration rather than an innovation. She also sets out, on layman-accessible style, the attempts made to legislate against food abuses and why those attempts have been so frequently unsuccessful.

Bee Wilson's thesis is that there is no better weapon against consumers being swindled by adulterated and fake foods than for them to be armed with knowledge as to what real foods taste like and as to what the effects of their various ingredients are. To this end, she advocates wider use of geographical indications and appellations that, if properly policed, give the consumer a wide degree of assurance as to the likely quality of what they eat. She likens the current regime of geographical indications to the old power exercised by the guilds in Europe in policing and maintaining the standards of their members -- an analogy that the IPKat remembers his learned and sometimes controversial friend Hugh Hansen making some years ago at the Fordham IP conference.

Trade marks and appellations listed in the Index include Basmati, Bordeaux, Bournville, Bovril, Bred-Spred, Champagne, Coca-Cola, Crosse & Blackwell, Heinz, Miracle Whip, Nestle, Pepsi, Snapple, Tilda and Unilever.

Bibliographic data: xiv + 370 pp. Hardback. £16.99. ISBN 978-7195-6916-6. Rupture factor: low.
Swindled! Swindled! Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 Rating: 5

No comments:

All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/p/want-to-complain.html

Powered by Blogger.