Is "Is your food fake or real?" real or fake?
July 15, 2019 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Food scientist and YouTuber Ann Reardon (How To Cook That) decided to evaluate the claims in a scaremongering viral video about detecting "fake foods". Unsurprisingly, the video's claims were nonsense.

Perhaps even more interestingly, she discovered that the content producer, Blossom, is owned by First Media, the same parent company that owns the channel So Yummy, which Reardon recently exposed for producing fake recipes. According to Reardon, after publishing this video, a former editor for So Yummy contacted her and told her that "whether the recipes worked or not was never their concern." In this latter video, Reardon also points to the rise of clickbait content farms producing false but compelling content as a direct cause of the decline of legitimate cooking-related channels on YouTube.

(Ann Reardon previously on MetaFilter.)
posted by biogeo (33 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Next up, the Fox Fake Food Network...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:40 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Is there any text-based version of this?
posted by signal at 8:21 PM on July 15 [10 favorites]


the rise of clickbait content farms producing false but compelling content as a direct cause of the decline of legitimate cooking-related channels on YouTube. media in the internet

ftfy
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:26 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


She's just in the pocket of big cheese. The hot pocket.

Seriously, though? This Russian stuff is weird. It goes....allthewaytothetop!
posted by amanda at 8:41 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Today I learned about meat glue.

I think I understand what Mssr Frankenstein felt when he realized life was electric.

There will be abominations in the Name of Science!.
posted by LD Feral at 8:49 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Is there any text-based version of this?

Hmm, good question. Sort of? There's a transcript (I think automatically generated but I'm not sure) which can be opened from the video options dropdown (three horizontal dots icon underneath the video; it looks like the aria-label attribute is "More actions" if you're using a screen reader) and then choosing "Open transcript". This shows a timestamp-annotated transcript (the timestamps can also be turned off) next to the video.

If for some reason you can't access this, I'd be happy to copy the transcript text for you if you send me a MeMail.
posted by biogeo at 9:19 PM on July 15


Is sodium bicarbonate called “baking powder” in the UK? In the US, baking powder is a mix of bicarb and tartaric acid. We call sodium bicarbonate “baking soda”.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:23 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


I am actually a little worried about sea salt, not because I'm afraid it contains chalk - which probably wouldn't concern me anyway - but because I believe sea salt these days is likely to contain microplastic particles, which I would prefer to avoid.

Likewise, I wouldn't care to eat food prepared with transglutaminase, not because I'm worried about 'fake' meat, but because I have celiac disease, and the autoantibodies which do the most damage to the intestines of people with CD are autoantibodies which react to endogenous transglutaminase, and I wouldn't care to stimulate the production of those autoantibodies with exogenous transglutaminase, which I've read is generally microbial transglutaminase.
posted by jamjam at 10:05 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Dear god, I am just so terribly tired of everything.
posted by aramaic at 10:15 PM on July 15 [16 favorites]


Another one of her videos just appeared in my YouTube recommendations: Is 5-Minute Crafts the WORST Channel on YouTube? This has the WTF factor of:

1. Someone brushing her teeth with still-molten hot glue
2. Ice cream made with activated charcoal
3. Strawberries soaked in household bleach to turn them white

The video clips also have the same weird face icons as the ones I linked in the FPP, which makes me suspect this is another First Media channel.
posted by biogeo at 10:24 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


One of the channels that my wife follows- JennaMarbles- did a few of the crafty five minute crafts. The crafts are just as bad as the food hacks:

Hot glue

Jean chair
posted by Hactar at 12:34 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


mr_roboto, I can't speak for the UK but Ann Reardon is Australian. Baking powder here is fairly similar to the US, and different to baking soda (however we would refer to sodium bicarbonate just as bicarb, not baking soda).

However we commonly use self raising flour for baking, which is flour with a leavening agent already added. Bicarb doesn't get used much in cooking here at all. I think she may have just referred to bicarb as baking powder for simplicity.
posted by arha at 12:52 AM on July 16


I wonder if they do use baking soda in Australia? I'm currently living in Germany and baking powder is more common here. Baking soda is Natron (and super fucking expensive - like €2 per 100 grams, I think, I had my mom bring me a box of A&H when she came to visit). Baking soda is rarely used for cooking here, but is used for cleaning, so sometimes it's called cleaning soda.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:20 AM on July 16


LizBoBiz, no, Australian's would not generally use Baking Soda in cooking, apart from some very specific uses (soda bread comes to mind). Most recipes not calling for self raising flour would specify baking powder to be used as the leavening agent, it's just not that common. It's not really that expensive except that everything here is kinda expensive compared to the States.
posted by arha at 1:43 AM on July 16


Anyway, sorry for the de-rail. That crafting video is a whole extra level of holy shit.
posted by arha at 2:09 AM on July 16


I wouldn't care to eat food prepared with transglutaminase

Reardon's point was that meat with transglutaminase must be labeled and looks nothing like meat fat or connective tissue. Blossom's video showed fat and connective tissue in a steak and claimed it was "meat glue" and thus that food companies were being deceptive. Added transglutaminase can be avoided by reading labels (at least in the US and Australia, mileage may vary in your country).

One interesting irony is that transglutaminase is a natural food product, derived from either bacterial fermentation or animal blood.
posted by muddgirl at 3:53 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Baking soda is rarely used for cooking here, but is used for cleaning, so sometimes it's called cleaning soda.

There is also a thing called washing soda (in North America at least, but I think also in the UK and other places?) that is different from baking soda. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3,) while washing soda is sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). Baking soda/sodium bicarbonate is useful in both cooking and cleaning, but don't eat washing soda/sodium carbonate.
posted by eviemath at 3:54 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Is there any text-based version of this?

I didn’t see one specifically for the FPP, but googling “fake food video” leads to a number of debunkings, including from CNN and Snopes. I have to laugh at some of the stuff I see on Facebook, like “Amazing Science Experiments You Can Do!”, where they claim you can do things like microwave a charcoal briquette and produce a diamond. Are there really adults who believe this stuff?

On the other hand, it is possible to find real fake food.
posted by TedW at 4:20 AM on July 16


These are really good - like Mythbusters for stupid viral food videos.
posted by harriet vane at 4:33 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I know there's a lot of fake crap on the internet but it never occurred to me that those "overhead-shot, no narration" recipes might be completely fake.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:28 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing this fake food video some months back and thinking it MUST be some kind of elaborate ironic joke thing (the “plastic rice” was an obvious turning point) but then it was just… played straight? Despite being a giant pile of patent nonsense.

What a time to be alive.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:58 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


In the 5 thread about things you could do with cement, someone mentioned the fake food video as a related topic. And there was a lot of similar grappling with whether some of the suggested crafts were jokes.
posted by RobotHero at 6:20 AM on July 16


I watched some of this last night and seriously though that Mayim Bialak was on a fake food crusade and Reardon was being snide by referring to her as "Blossom".
posted by Automocar at 6:38 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Oh and obviously Youtube is a stain on humanity and everyone should go outside and watch the sunset and play with a dog etc etc
posted by Automocar at 6:39 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I love Ann Reardon's recipes*, and hate that one of the reasons she does videos like this one (and it's worth watching her takedown on So Yummy as well) is that content farms that repurpose fake DIY tips and recipes are driving real bakers and crafters off the web.

* My personal favorite of hers: How to Make Balloon Sugar Bowls - and its followup Sugar Bowls Part 2 - DANGER WARNING
posted by Mchelly at 6:46 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


"When asked about the research that went into making the video, First Media provided a list of links for each clip. Eleven of the 16 were from a mix of Indian sources relating to alleged food scandals in the country; from the urbane Instagram influencers of New Delhi to national newspapers and rural TV channels. One, relating to red dye on sweet potatoes, came from the official food standards authority in India.

Karen Rebelo works for the Indian fact-checking site Boom Live, part of the International Fact Checking Network, which was in 2016 approved by Facebook to shed light on spurious posts across the platform. She says she repeatedly debunks false claims and videos about viral food scares of the type presented in the Blossom video, even when they come from well-known news organisations in the country.

'We have seen Hindi and regional television news channels picking up viral videos from social media about food scares,' she says. 'They amplify and legitimise such claims without showing any journalistic scepticism.'"
posted by jocelmeow at 7:34 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Ann Reardon is fantastic and I love her debunking videos (and those sugar bowl ones, so delightful). The tone of her presentation is this almost perfect blend of welcome and snark, she explains things clearly without belittling people's lack of preexisting knowledge in one moment and then eviscerates the disseminators of falsehoods the next. And then she's really nice about your horrible cake fails, too.

I want to eat that frankensteak, though. I mean, salt it and cook it well, but yeah, sign my mouth up for that stripey experiment.
posted by Mizu at 7:34 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Didn't see linked here so here is the original vid
posted by rebent at 8:02 AM on July 16


jocelmeow's link above is a great read, and may also satisfy signal's request for a text-based version of the story.
posted by biogeo at 2:30 PM on July 16


I watched some of this last night and seriously though that Mayim Bialak was on a fake food crusade and Reardon was being snide by referring to her as "Blossom".

I thought this as well!!! OMG I am so relieved to know that Mayim Bialak is not behind those fake food videos. I kept wondering what she could be thinking, why would she do this, this is lower than Gwyneth Paltrow, what is wrong with people?
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:27 PM on July 16


It's a good video, but I don't think it's actually a useful refutation.

The Blossom video's core message is "food companies are lying to you". Mayim Bialak's message is "food laws say you can't do that". Also, the very first experiment she does basically validates the Blossom video. I don't buy in to the nonsense, and I can't watch her video without thinking of ways to dismiss her.

I mean, I'm glad she made the attempt. I just think it's kind of preaching to the choir.
posted by Zudz at 6:22 AM on July 17


Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3,) while washing soda is sodium carbonate (Na2CO3).

So which one do they put in ice cream?
posted by RobotHero at 9:23 AM on July 17


Also, the very first experiment she does basically validates the Blossom video.

Their first demonstration wasn't fake but their explanation wasn't true either. It's still a lie. You can even see the "natural cheese" burning at the edges. Kraft is not secretive about their cheese ingredients - so it should be trivial to say which ingredient is burning that isn't in natural cheese?
posted by muddgirl at 12:02 PM on July 17


« Older What It Feels Like for a Fangirl in the Age of...   |   100 Most Sustainable U.S. Companies Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments