Imagine. If you could go back to the days of sowing your own seeds and harvesting your own crops. No, I am not being medieval. If you realize that everything you purchase today from the market is somehow adulterated, you would also agree with me. Would you like to consume foods whose ingredients and quality have been hampered with? Forget about hampering, people have gone to the extent of replacing foods with their look-alikes. As an attempt to let my readers know about the menace in the food industry, here’s a list of the top adulterated foods that you have been buying and eating, probably every day, and you don’t even know what was going into your stomach all this while.
Shall we begin with the staple food of the region I come from? Why not? After all, there has been an uproar in the local news channels about the plastic rice that is doing the rounds in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. So, this Made in China plastic rice is the doppelganger of our regular rice – just that it is made of phthalates. Yes, the exact thing I had mentioned in one of the previous articles of mine. Cosmetic brands were prohibited from using this chemical in nail polishes because it seeps into our skin through the nail beds and causes reproductive or hormonal disturbances in the human body. While manufacturing nail polishes was difficult with phthalates because of the rules, the food industry, I think, thought, “Forget nail polish, why not use it to manufacture rice?”
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: Add some rice grains in a glass of water and stir it well. If you see the rice floating, it is definitely synthetic rice. Also, try burning some rice on a hot pan. You know how burning plastic smells, right? So, if the smell is anything similar while burning rice, you know it is plastic.
Another easy-to-fake and a poor victim of adulteration is honey. Sometimes, it is corn starch that has high concentrations of fructose or it is just glucose with water and even gypsum. Always remember that pure honey, when stored, takes the form of crystals or a crystalline mass. If you buy honey that looks anything like this, you are on the right track. Although our senses prefer a smooth flowing brown fluid in the name of “honey,” this consistency is a sure shot sign that it had been meddled with. Real and pure honey always crystallizes over time unlike the watery adulterated store-bought fake honey.
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: Do a simple spoon test. Take a scoop of honey and allow it to fall from your ladle. Pure honey is more viscous and takes a while to glide off the spoon. Of course, if the liquid just flowed through, sorry, you were just eating glucose all this while.
Do you know how coffee powder is adulterated? Want to take a guess? You can go as wild as you want in this guessing game. Could be soy or wheat. Okay, that wasn’t too wild. How about wood powder? Yeah, so anything that just looks like coffee powder is enough for it to become a potent adulterant. Of course, chicory is sort of a legit adulterant. Chicory root silently mimes the taste of coffee and hence is added in coffee. This helps in reducing the strength of coffee for those who don’t like it strong and also helps the retailers mint some money by adding more chicory than necessary.
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: There’s a simple test you could do. Take the coffee powder and try to press the powder between your fingers. If it forms a clump, it means there’s more chicory in it. Pure ground coffee doesn’t adhere at all.
Those dainty little red threads. So beautiful and so aromatic. The saffron thread that is edible is, in fact, the stigma of the saffron flower, and each of the threads needs to be hand-picked. It requires huge manpower. And yes, Kashmiri saffron, one of the other few varieties of saffron, is yet again a victim of malice. Common adulterants used are red silk threads, beetroot, and pomegranate fibers. One of the wise ways to save yourself from fake saffron is to buy it from sellers who have been certified by the Government or other reliable bodies.
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: Pure saffron threads are slightly moist. If you find them too wet or extremely dry, they are adulterated. Adulteration of powdered saffron is easier as it is often mixed with red paprika or even turmeric. To find out if your powder is pure or not, add the powder to a glass of water. Check the intensity of the color that is imparted to the water. If it is not mild golden and is a deep yellow like turmeric, or even red, it is adulterated saffron powder.
Cinnamon is often adulterated by mixing cassia in it. Cassia is a spice that is obtained from the bark of East Asian evergreen trees. However, it looks, smells, and tastes different from cinnamon. Cinnamon, on the other hand, is extracted from the bark of several trees that belong to the Cinnamomum family, which are also native to East Asia, like cassia. If you are a novice in the field of culinary industry, it is very easy to fool you and make you buy cassia mixed cinnamon instead of real cinnamon.
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: Real cinnamon appears like a rolled-up newspaper and is light brown. Also, it has a slight aftertaste of cloves. Cassia is darker in appearance and is curled up on both the ends, unlike pure cinnamon. Also, cassia has a more pungent taste.
Our very own Indian cheese – the cottage cheese. Paneer is considered a delicacy all over India and its demand is increasing by the day. Sellers have resorted to adding starch, particularly during festive seasons to increase the production and decrease the cost and time. Sadly, you might be consuming more starch than real paneer. This might not cause a health hazard, so to speak, but why would I eat starch but buy paneer? I will buy starch, instead. It is the very principle of deceit that bothers me more than the harm that it could possibly cause.
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: Take a small piece of paneer and boil it in water. One it is boiled, add few drops of iodine to it. If there is starch in paneer, you will find the drops turning blue.
7. Chili Powder
Another surprising thing that is subjected to adulteration is red chili powder. The fake red chili powder looks exactly like the real one. So real that even the food administartion bodies cannot differentiate between the fake and the real one. Rhodamine-b is a chemical that is mixed in water to make the false red chili powder. Red oxide is also used apart from red brick powder.
This Is How You Can Identify The Real Amidst The Fake: If it is made of Rhodamine-b, then forget about spotting the fake one. Although you could try this method if the adulterant is the brick powder. Mix a spoon of chili powder in a glass of water. If the solution becomes red, it is fake chili powder.
Don’t you want to start growing your own food, now? I know it is not possible in today’s times. All you can do is be alert and always purchase any edible item from a trusted retailer. Look for ingredients, become more alert, and try to detect adulteration the moment you find something fishy. Never forget to bring this to the notice of legal bodies. You would be saving hundreds more from adulterated foods along with your family. Were you a victim of fake foods ever? Comment below and tell me now! It is time to spread the news.
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