#3. Your Salmon Is Dyed Pink
When you think of salmon in the wild, you're usually imagining a bunch of strong, determined fish swimming upward through a waterfall, maybe while getting chased by bears. It's the blood rushing through the powerful salmon's veins that makes its flesh so pink and healthy as a bastard -- by devouring it, you also absorb its strength and the spirit of the untamed Alaskan wilderness.
"... AND THE PEAS WERE PRETTY GOOD, TOO."
At least, that used to be how it worked. The salmon you eat today has never swum a single damn inch upstream. Instead of the Alaskan wilderness, today's salmon only contain the spirit of the cramped, overcrowded salmon farms in which they spent their entire lives. Because the fish can't move much and their diet consists entirely of aquarium pellets, the salmon that arrives at your local Safeway is as gray as a British winter.
So how do they recapture the soul of Alaska? They pump the salmon full of pink dye, obviously. The pellets they feed to those aquatic prisoners are infused with a line of coloring agents developed by the pharmaceutical giant Hoffman-La Roche and selected according to a color fan. That's right -- just like the ones you use to choose the color of your wall paint from the hardware store. Behold, the SalmoFan:
"Hey, it's our anniversary, we're allowed to splurge. Let's order neon."
This is no small-scale stuff, either. About 95 percent of Atlantic salmon is currently farmed, and pretty much all of it is dyed.
Of course, salmon is not the only thing in your grocery basket that isn't really the color you think it is. Remember Perdue chicken, Frank Perdue's famous poultry with the "healthy, golden color"? Turns out that the healthy, natural color was achieved with a mix of marigold petals and dyes. In the baked goods corner we have wheat bread, which is often dyed darker with brown sugar or molasses to make it appear more healthy. The peculiarly orange hue of cheddar cheese is also a careful mix of coloring agents, because the natural color of cheese batches varies, and being faced with variation reduces regular shoppers to confused and aggressive beasts.
"Be careful, they charge when provoked."
For the red-meat lovers out there, rest assured that your hamburger and sausage meat is often dyed to a more appetizingly red hue that can cause cancer. But hell, who wants to eat slightly inconsistent-looking food?
#2. Kobe Beef Doesn't Really Exist
Seasoned carnivores know that Kobe beef is just about the cream of the crop, if you can afford it. The Japanese Wagyu cattle it comes from are raised with a very direct set of rules, followed with the kind of strict meticulousness you'd expect from a country where making a cup of tea is an hour-long ritual.
Luckily, the international market has made Kobe beef pretty widely available. Nowadays, many restaurants keep Kobe on the menu, and many a well-equipped meat purveyor is able to get his hands on a chunk every now and then. And as the markets open, the prices plummet -- these days, you can totally enjoy a delicious Kobe burger for the relatively measly price of $81.
"Here's your wrong burger with a side order of french lies. Enjoy!"
Say, ever wonder where all this sudden, delicious Kobe influx comes from?
Nowhere, that's where. Every single restaurant and beef purveyor boasting Kobe beef is lying its ass off. You have never had real Kobe beef. Not in the U.S., not in Europe, not in Australia. Unless you actually flew to Japan and specifically sought it out, you haven't had a shadow of a chance to even sniff a Kobe steak.
Nope, doesn't count.
In fact, the strict rules that apply to Kobe production aren't in compliance with U.S. legislation, which technically makes the meat more or less illegal stateside. And there is precious little Kobe beef to go around -- so it doesn't. With the exception of Macau, for some reason, Kobe beef is exclusive to Japan, and even there it can be a bastard to find.
So wait, what are they actually feeding us when we pick "Kobe" off the menu? Whatever the hell they want. The term "Kobe beef" is only subject to regulation within Japan, so for the rest of us, it can legally apply to anything that doesn't violate the "beef" part of the description.
"That'll be a million dollars."
When you buy something labeled "Kobe beef," it's likely that you're actually buying something with a vague explanation, like it's prepared "in the style" of a Kobe steak, which probably isn't enough to warrant the $80 price tag, unless you're one of those creepy Japanophiles.
#1. Your Olive Oil Is Fake, Thanks to the Mob
Even though it's basically just fat, olive oil is one of those fabled "good fats" that sounds like "healthy cigarettes," except that the folks at Harvard will even tell you that olive oil can prevent heart disease and generally help you live longer. It's such a shame that you may never actually get to try the stuff, thanks to a shadowy global conspiracy that exists purely to keep it away from you.
"They're on to us. Pack your things -- we have to get out of town right now."
As crazy as it sounds, olive oil piracy is one of the Italian Mafia's most lucrative enterprises, to the extent that it appears that most olive oil on the market is either greatly diluted or completely forged by a massive shadow industry that involves major names such as Bertolli.
They've been at it for a while, too -- Joe Profaci, said to be one of the real-life dons who inspired the character of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, was known by the moniker of "The Olive Oil King." But evidence suggests that olive oil racketeering has been a major problem in the world for centuries. Hell, the ancient Sumerians had a fraud squad for shady olive oil peddlers.
"Hurry up, man, my salad is getting limp and wilted."
Today, the stuff that is pawned off to us as quality olive oil is often just a tiny amount of the real thing, mixed with up to 80 percent of ordinary, less than healthy, cheap as muck sunflower oil. That is, if you're getting any olive oil at all. In fact, we're so used to shitty olive oil that apparently food connoisseurs reject the real stuff because it tastes fake to them.
But why would anyone bother? It's freaking olive oil. How much money can there be in it when you can get a bottle for a few bucks at the grocery store? It turns out that, profit-wise, shady olive oil is comparable to cocaine trafficking. If anything, the reality would have really changed the atmosphere of the Godfather movies.
For more dark truths about your food, check out 8 Health Foods That Are Bad For Your Health and 5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Debate: Should Hotels Charge for Wi-Fi?
And stop by LinkSTORM because Mondays need a swift kick in the jimmies.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!
We have some bad news: the food pyramid is a huge scam, calories are all that matter for weight loss, and your favorite book sellers are now taking pre-orders for a text book written and illustrated entirely by the Cracked team! Hitting shelves in October, Cracked's De-Textbook is a fully-illustrated, systematic deconstruction of all of the bullshit you learned in school.
It's loaded with facts about history, your body, and the world around you that your teachers didn't want you to know. And as a bonus? We've also include the drinking myths that might kill you.