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Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats Paperback – 8 Jan 2009

5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (8 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719567769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719567766
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Meticulously researched and fascinating to read, Swindled is guaranteed to give you food for thought' (Daily Express)

'A wonderully written, thrilling rollercoaster of a book . . . A must-read: loaded with flavour, it is a satisfying rich stew of savoury details and meaty chunks of information - nourishment for the mind' (Sunday Telegraph)

'Riveting . . . If ever a book could convince you that the only food worth eating is that which you have scrupulously shopped for in reputable local shops and cooked yourself from scratch, it is this one' (Daily Mail)

'Bee Wilson is not only an able historian but a food writer with a passion rooted very much in the present. She wants to shake us awake, to make us look afresh at the food we eat. She does so triumphantly . . . erudite and entertaining . . . Wilson is a fervent lover of food but Swindled is not blind polemic . . . It is her considered and often humorous approach that makes this book so successful' (Sunday Times)

'[Bee Wilson's] intellectual rigour and disciplined research skills prove a great match with her seamless and engaging writing - she manages to bring history alive, and leaves you wanting more' (Time Out)

'Gripping reading - don't miss it' (Sainsbury's Magazine)

'Lively and well-argued' (Sunday Express)

'Engrossing' (Financial Times)

'A cautionary tale, it provides ample food for thought' (Tatler)

'Wilson brings a humorous touch to the history of swindlers who have tampered with our food' (Oxford Times)

Book Description

Bad food has a history. Swindled tells it.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 30 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this based on a recommendation - and have since bought several copies to give to friends and family!
The book begins by explaining just how far back the tradition of dodgy food goes - basically right back to medieval times and probably beyond. Sweets coloured with mercury, chicory and barley being sold as 'coffee', gravel and sand being used to fill out bread mixture - ugh!!
I loved the historical bit as it was really interesting, but where the book really hits its stride is the later chapters discussing modern food adulteration - you will find yourself scrutinising labels in the supermarket too. There's also a discussion about 'additives' such as fluoride and vitamins into drinks and food - in the USA it's mandatory to add folic acid to bread. (Folic acid is vital for women as it helps to reduce spinal complications in babies, but a lot of women simply don't get enough in their standard diet).
Anyway, DO buy this book, I guarantee you'll enjoy it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SuReads on 25 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
Buying Swindled is a smart move for your health. Especially if you are a parent.

I bought this book for educational purposes, but actually, I couldn't put it down. Swindled reads like an alarming thriller, and will have you frightened and outraged in equal measures.

Who should buy it?
Every family. Every food writer. Every chef. Every cook. No. Every one.

Food piracy is a massive industry (I'm writing this in the wake of the horse meat scandal). Wilson chronicles a lot more than your supermarket burger. Hers is a voice worth listening to. The book shares her research and helps to inform us about the perils of highly processed food and the desperation of food 'adulterers.' Pretty haunting stuff.
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Format: Paperback
I read this over a couple of days while laid up in bed with a snapped ankle ligament. It makes fascinating - and deeply worrying - reading for anyone interested in the history of food, and also for those who care deeply about the quality of the food we eat. It proves that from ancient times we have been at the mercy of individuals, big (and small) business and politicians regarding the quality of our daily bread and practically every other item of food that we have put in our mouths over the centuries. Along the way, the careful reader will find out such interesting snippets of information to drop into the dinner table conversation as why Double Gloucester cheese is described as "double" (the milk used has to come from two milkings made on successive days rather than just from one milking) and the origin of the giant's "Fee, fi, fo fum" speech in "Jack the Giant Killer" - the 1792 wheat harvest was particularly poor and millers were accused of adding ground bones to the flour to increase its bulk. Of perhaps greater relevance is the explanation of why modern "bread" is so disgustingly tasteless and flabby and how lucky we are that individuals and organisations have campaigned in the past and continue to do so against food adulteration and sharp practice.

Wilson writes that we suffer from "food scare malaise" - almost every day we read or hear about some new claim that this or that foodstuff is bad for us or good for us, and so eventually we stop taking any notice. Part of this book's problem is that, once the modern era is reached, we've heard it all before.
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By Andy on 18 May 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent read. Enlightening and entertaining.
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2 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Elizabeth Gilbert on 14 July 2009
Format: Paperback
Obviously well researched, but the organization of information lacking. Information ping-pong made an irritating read!
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