fake food

The Fake Food Scandal

When you hear the term “fake food”, what often comes to mind are the toys children receive along with their toy kitchen set; rubber hamburgers, apples, pieces of bread, etc. However, in America, we have a real fake food problem. Sounds ironic, but the fake food scandal is present among restaurants, grocery stores, college campuses and almost anywhere else food is sold. What is it exactly? Larry Olmstead, author of ‘Real Food, Fake Food” describes it as mislabeled or imposter food. The problem is not that fake food is unhealthier than real food. The problem is in fact that you are a) not getting what you pay for and b) fake food is often illegal.


Olmstead’s book provides many examples of food fraud; however, four of the most common include olive oil, fish and seafood, Parmesan cheese and honey. Parmesan is an easy example of fake food to understand. Similar to many other fake food scandals, including Kobe beef and champagne, Parmesan receives its name from its origin in Parma, Italy. In Parma, strict regulations go into making the authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. In fact, the cheese can only be considered true if it is made with just three ingredients. Finding Parmesan labelled in United States with only three ingredients is rare. While some may ask if real Parmesan really makes a difference, and to real food aficionados, the taste of real Parmesan is incredible. What to learn from Parmesan is not to label a similar product as the true name, but to consider the regulations that go into making the product first.


In the case of honey, the battle first begins with local honey producers and big name manufacturers. Mass produced honey often receives an ultra-filtration treatment which removes the pollen. Local producers claim this is no longer honey, however no regulations are in place and it is perfectly legal in the United States. The taste preference of the consumer ultimately decides the battle between local and mass produced honey. In addition, producers of honey in the United States grade their own honey without USDA regulation. This means any producer has the ability to claim their own honey meets a certain standard. The United States imports most of the supply of fake honey without knowing so. Many countries dilute their honey with corn syrup or other sugar solutions. The United States deems these mixtures illegal, however without testing; no one knows if this honey solution is indeed fake food.

Olive Oil

Similar to honey, Extra Virgin Olive Oil often does not contain what it advertises. Olive Oil remains the most frequented fake food in the world. In fact, the National Consumers League states that 6 of 11 olive oils are mislabeled. In addition, the New York Times found that 69% of olive oil labelled Extra Virgin do not meet standard. Manufacturers either cut with cheaper oils or do not use olive oil at all, just a mixture of cheap oils and chemicals to mask the flavor. Manufacturers can legally label this oil, “Packed in Italy” or “Imported from Italy.” This deceives consumers to believe that Italy makes the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, while it is only imported to and shipped from Italy.


Another very common example of food fraud is fish and shellfish. When you order seafood such as lobster as a main dish, you can clearly see that the food presented to you is what you ordered. However, in the case of lobster bisque, crab cakes and sushi, this is often not the case. Manufacturers often blend lobster and crab with a cheaper seafood option as to keep cost down while growing profit. Same is true with sushi. Whitefish will often replace tuna in the very common tuna roll. With allergies so common among seafood, fake food in this category can be dangerous.

How to Stop Fake Food

In some cases, stopping food fraud is hard for the consumer. Often with mislabeled foods, restaurants will prepare dishes with a different ingredient than they thought. However, restaurants can do their part in preventing fake food. Especially with honey, experts suggest buying from your local farmers. A simple solution is to check labels. In the case of olive oil, checking the label for “made in” or “grown in” will give you the answer about the origin of your olive oil. To be 100% sure about the validity of your food, do your research to check the validity of your product.

Fake food is a real issue in the United States that often goes unnoticed.  With proper investigation you can do your part to prevent fake food from happening. Real food is worth the difference. It’s time to end the fake food scandal.


going green food

Going Green for Earth Day

From the beginning, Van Eerden emphasized fresh food, launching as a fresh produce market. As time passed, we’ve widened our scope and gained customers along the way. Now, almost 100 years later, we offer thousands of food products, different kitchen cleaning supplies and various tableware products. Although our range of products has vastly expanded, we still offer a fresh approach. Earth Day is Saturday, April 22nd, to celebrate; we are sharing how we are going green.

Going Green with PROACT

Our vendor partner, PROACT, offers our customers superior and sustainable produce. Founded in 1991, PROACT, or “Product Regional Operators Advancing Cooperative Trade”, has spread throughout the nation servicing coast-to-coast distribution. With measured and monitored success, PROACT commits themselves to the success of over 50 customers, Van Eerden included.

PROACT’s ethics align with the Van Eerden fresh approach, especially the Greener Fields Together division. Greener Fields Together, a program created and operated by PROACT, focuses on two goals. They strive to implement sustainability practices to improve environmental impact as well as ensure the availability and safety of produce. Sound like something Van Eerden would capitalize on? Absolutely. Greener Fields Together has developed many initiatives to ensure that they meet their goals as an organization. They continuously improve impact areas whenever and wherever possible, including the growing, handling and distribution of produce. In addition, their strive for sustainability pushes local produce production which in return creates fresher products, benefiting Van Eerden and our customers alike.

Going Green with the Greener Business Bureau

For over a year now, we have been members of the Greener Business Bureau. The Greener Business Bureau, is a national organization aimed to empower businesses to contribute to a greener world. To become certified, we had to adhere to many qualifications. These qualifications include purchasing paper products from recycled materials and using lighting with occupancy sensors. In addition, our transportation department has many sustainable logistical practices. We love our planet and want to see it flourish. Becoming a member for the Greener Business Bureau has helped us reach this goal.

Almost a century later, Grand Rapids is still the home of Van Eerden Foodservice, and while both the city and the company have expanded, we have stayed true to the fresh approach concept. With the help of Greener Fields Together and the Greener Business Bureau, we commit to improving sustainability and the wellness of our planet. We stand behind our fresh approach and gladly provide you with the most sustainable produce, as well as office environment, in food service.


Stop Crying When Chopping Onions

Anyone who chops onions knows crying is almost guaranteed.  Some eyes are less prone to tears and some onions are less likely to cause tears. Think, less juice equals less tears. But why do we react like we just watched the ending to the Titanic every time we chop an onion? The answer lies within. Literally, within the onion.

 Chopping Onions Releases Chemicals

Onions contain an amino acid sulfoxide which releases from the onion when the cell walls of the onion break down. This breakdown occurs upon slicing, chopping or dicing an onion. When mixed with the atmosphere in your kitchen, the acid creates a compound called propanethionions_1ol S-oxide. The S-oxide is known as a tear-inducing factor, hence the stingy tears produced when onion air reaches the eyes. The tears start a sort of waterfall effect, no pun intended. As the S-oxide reaches the eyes, it converts into sulfuric acid, causing irritation. The irritation produces itching which then produces more tears, producing more sulfuric acid and so on. The waterfall effect. To keep this effect at a minimum, get that onion chopped fast.

Techniques to Stop the Tears

Through the years many techniques have developed to control the tears when chopping onions. The effectiveness of each technique varies, although some techniques work better for certain individuals than others. These methods have been tested by multiple food scientists and columnists and each article rates them a little different. Here lists a few techniques that might just keep the tears away.

1- Use a sharper knife. This technique will create sharp edges on the onion; therefore less cell wall breakage. Reviews agree that this method does not prove much effective.  2- Freezing the onion, or soaking the onion in cold water works slightly better. The chill slows down the creation of the chemicals; think how blood flow slows when cold; consequently giving you more time before the tears start flowing. 3- Possibly the most effective of these tried methods is the onion goggle. The goggles act as a barrier for your eyes, blocking the chemicals to ever reach you. Companies actually make goggles designed specifically for onions, which you can purchase on online.

Chopping Onions at the Core

Maybe these methods work, maybe they don’t, maybe you do not want to purchase onion goggles. There is yet another way to keep you from crying when chopping an onion. The S-Oxide houses itself in the core of the onion. To keep from releasing any chemicals, do not cutonions_2 the core. This method, while proven effective by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, takes a little more effort in the cutting process. To core an onion, one must carve out the core in a teepee shape, keeping the onion intact. This takes precision to make sure the core goes untouched and you do not cut yourself in the process. Cutting out the core may take more time, but the extra minute is worth no tears.

In the end, many methods have been tested to keep eyes from watering while chopping onions. Some swear by certain methods while some believe tear production is inevitable. The only way to know what works for you is to test it out.  One thing we can all agree on is that onions add flavor to many meals, and cutting them out is probably not an option.

Choose Your Wine Glass Wisely

Whether originating from California, France or Australia, wine comes in more types than most know. Wines range on a scale of sweet to dry and flavor depends on color, region and age. Enthusiasts know what wine pairs best with certain foods and websites even feature articles regarding wine pairings and your favorite candy! When pouring your next glass of wine, also consider letting the wine breathe. Wine scientists have proven that letting a wine breathe, or sit for a minute after pouring, improves the quality. Even after pairing your wine and letting the glass breGroup of three wine glassesathe, you can still optimize the glass further. In fact, you need to focus on the glass. Research shows that the wine glass you choose can drastically change the taste.

Hard to believe that a wine glass can make such a difference on the experience of drinking wine. Recent scientific studies prove that shape, size and opening make a huge impact on the delivery of the wine. According to some researchers, the glass can significantly impact the taste, so much so that a favorite wine can turn undesirable in the wrong glass. This makes sense, shop at any kitchen retailer and you find a variety of different wine glasses.

Having to do with the concentration and aroma of the alcohol, the rim of the glass plays what could be the most critical role. The rim effects head tips when drinking wine as well as where the wine hits the tongue. Also under consideration; the atmosphere. Some researchers believe that wine drinkers sense their wine exceeds expectations when drinking from an expensive glass in an extravagant setting.  This Forbes article, written by Tom Mullen, describes pairing bottles of wine with the best possible glass. Give it a read and take into consideration the article next time you pour yourself a glass wine.


VE School Show

Van Eerden School Show 2016

As a foodservice distributor, Van Eerden has a wide range of customers across Michigan. These include several independent restaurants, local chains, schools and more. While the majority our customers include chains and restaurants, we also service K-12 school districts. In fact, service to the school business is so large; our company has a department dedicated solely to providing the greatest service to schools. Schools even have their own show featuring issues, products and services that are important to them.