How To Tell if Your Food is Real

Well, of course, your food is real if it is not packaged processed chemicals. Fruits and vegetables are hard to fake. Finding good organic sources might be a bit tougher, but at least you can’t (yet)make cardboard look like a banana.

But how about your fish and meat? How can you be sure that the expensive fish you are eating is really the type you ordered? According to Larry Olmsted, author of, “Real Food, Fake Food”, there are many scams being run on those willing to pay top dollar for highest quality food.

Olmsted claims that there is rarely real lobster in Lobster Bisque. Langostino is substituted, which is a type of crayfish, but not a type of lobster. And he says that there is almost no genuine red snapper, salmon or tuna used in Sushi restaurants.

Although beef labeled “grass-fed” may come from cows raised on grass, much of the time the cows are “finished” on grain to fatten them and increase weight before slaughter. (Note to anyone wanting to lose weight that it is grain that is used to fatten up farm animals.)

So, just when you are trying to do the smart thing nutritionally, and you are willing to pay top dollar, you find out that the gourmet food industry is also corrupt. You need to be educated and aware to weed out the pretenders.

Don’t go to the cheapest sushi restaurants. Real fish is expensive. Talk to the staff and see if they know the menu. Use your eyes and nose. How does the fish look and smell? Are there a lot of sauces and rolls using mayo and cream cheese and other non-traditional ingredients to cover up the fish itself? For more tips on good sushi go to

For real fish you can buy online from Vital Choice and Copper River Seafoods for salmon, cod and halibut Never buy farmed fish, but only wild-caught.  Tilapia is always farmed and salmon is often farmed. These fish are raised in pens, not allowed to swim free. They are fed soy and chicken waste, as well as pesticides and chemicals.

Most shrimp sold in the U.S. is from other countries, and is unregulated. Beware of farmed shrimp, like that sold at Costco.  Trader Joe’s may be a better choice due to their pledge to supply only sustainable seafood.

Farmer’s Markets are good choices for poultry, meat and fish. Knowing the small local vendors and developing a relationship may provide peace of mind and value for your dollar. Burbank Farmer’s Market now sells beef from Autonomy Farms that is either grass or grain “finished”, with the grass-finished at a slightly higher price. This means that the cows are fed grass up until the time they are slaughtered. The steak from Autonomy Farms is some of the best I have ever eaten anywhere. They also offer ground beef with ground beef heart added. Native American Indians fed deer or buffalo heart to the warriors and hunters only so they could stay strong enough to feed and defend the whole tribe. The inferior muscle meat was given to the women and children. Autonomy Farms also offers chicken and lamb, as well as homemade sausage with ground kidney added. These organ meats are super nutrition.

So, now we have a new definition of real food as food that is all it is promoted to be. And even if you are willing to pay a premium for higher quality, you still have to be an educated, savvy consumer. Since nutrition is the major avenue for building and maintaining a sound, healthy body, eating well is the only option for our loved ones and ourselves. The other benefit to eating the “realest” food is that it is the most flavorful. Ground beef mixed with heart is an exotic tease for your taste buds, and just might bring out the hidden warrior you need to be for your own tribe.