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Mon, Feb. 10th, 2014, 10:49 pm
Why are ersatz foods ingredients so common in the US?

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

US isn’t a poor country. Yet typical food includes junk like corn syrup. Even in fairly expensive restaurants, imitation crab is used instead of real crab. Airlines serve absolutely foul artificial creamer instead of half-and-half or cream. Typical baked goods, even at the fancy bakeries, are so inferior to German, Swiss or Czech products that I can’t help wonder why.

Does anyone know?

It’s not like making better food is difficult. At this point, I can prepare meal ingredients in 2 to 5 minutes to rival all but the best restaurants in town, and do so with fairly inexpensive ingredients. For grocery makers, is the cost of ingredients so critical compared to the cost of packaging, distribution and advertising as to mandate the use of very inferior substitutes in mainstream food products?

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 05:04 am (UTC)

Yes, it is expensive when you scale it up.

Also HFCS specifically is significantly cheaper because of corn subsidies.

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 12:24 pm (UTC)

Corn is subsidized and sugar has price controls. One government program makes taxpayers pay out to the farmers and the other government program makes consumers pay more directly.
It's good to be in agriculture.

Wed, Feb. 12th, 2014 04:07 am (UTC)

This, pretty much. On the other hand, depending on what part of the country you live in, fresh food can be significantly cheaper than the packaged stuff even taking preparation time into account. Too bad a lot of people don't learn how to cook or comparison shop properly.

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 05:18 am (UTC)

Makes me wonder why as well. Soda in US is produced with high fructose corn syrup, and soda in Mexico - the same brands - are produced with real sugar. Looks like Mexican government cares more about health...

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 05:29 am (UTC)

I read an article recently that indicated that may be changing.

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 05:53 am (UTC)

"— Мне думается, ваша подруга не права. Здесь, на Тормансе, люди настолько напуганы Веком Голода, что стараются произвести как можно больше еды из каждого продукта, добавляя туда несъедобные вещества. Они портят таким образом натуральное молоко, масло, хлеб и даже воду. Естественно, что такая пища не может быть вкусной, а нередко она просто вредна. Отсюда громадное количество болезней печени и кишечника.

— Вот почему вода здесь такая невкусная. И разливают ее без пользы. Разве не лучше расходовать ее бережливо, но делать вкуснее? — сказала Чеди.

— Здесь на каждом шагу встречаются вещи, противоречащие здравому смыслу. Вечером они включают вовсю телеэкраны, музыка грохочет; надрываясь, что-то говорят специальные восхвалители; показывают фильмы, хронику событий, убийственные спортивные зрелища, а люди занимаются своими делами, разговаривают совсем о другом, стараясь перекричать передатчики."


"— Удивляюсь, — Чеди привстала на локте, но Эвиза мгновенно водворила ее на место, — как могут они травить себя, своих детей, губить свое будущее, фальсифицируя и удешевляя пищу так, что она становится отравой? Представьте, что на Земле кто-нибудь стал принимать такую отраву. Бессмысленно!

— У них, — сказала Родис, — этим ужасающим путем увеличивают количество пищи, удешевляя производство ее. А продают по прежней дорогой цене — это называется косвенным налогом в обществе Торманса, и доход идет олигархам."

Вообще, Ефремов в "Часе быка" много внимания уделяет проблемам питания, и вполне понятно, с какой страны он берет пример.

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 04:19 pm (UTC)

Because the majority of consumers are unable to differentiate such degrees of quality, or they don't care when faced with the cost difference. Look at the success of Walmart.

Tue, Feb. 11th, 2014 04:47 pm (UTC)

Nope, but you might like the Vietnamese bakery sweets.

Wed, Feb. 12th, 2014 05:17 pm (UTC)
Rich D

While cost of the actual goods can be a factor, one of the biggest reasons, especially when it comes to restaurants, where you know that they have the skills to prepare good food, and the time to prepare it when you order it, is storage.

Good quality, real ingredients are great. But they don't store (and relatedly, they don't ship) as well as 'ersatz' ingredients. Sometimes, it's a small difference - good cheese is good for weeks, often for months. Imitation cheese is 'good' for calendar years. But sometimes it really matters. A well-made pastry gets stale - something made with stabilized oils and processed fruit will last on a shelf and not get significantly less appetizing all day. Day-old baked goods made with real lard and butter and fresh fruit glazes start to trend downhill in an hour or so.

This can often be overcome, but doing so can get expensive (so we're back to expense), but sometimes, it just can't be done. Half-and-half is real milk and real cream. Needs to be refrigerated, and once opened, is only good for so long. Artificial sweetener will accompany the cockroaches on their travels across the post-nuclear-war irradiated plains with no loss in effectiveness.

Airlines and other users who can't be sure how long something will sit before use are the worst offenders because they just can't rely on fast demand, and they also can't really tolerate significant stock-loss.

My two-cents anyway.

Thu, Feb. 13th, 2014 09:14 am (UTC)

As far as the half-and-half and fake crab go, perhaps it's that the average consumer is so used to the fake product, that when given the real, they reject it.