Monday, June 19, 2017

Plastic rice and other fake foods

One story that seems to never die on the internet are claims of "plastic rice" (1, 2 and 3.) I find the endless claims very strange, not only because of their endlessness, but also because the whole idea of making rice from plastic in the first place is pretty idiotic for more than one reason. As was noted in the Bangalore Mirror article,
'Rice is being sold at Rs 40-Rs 50 per kg while if at all one has to make plastic rice [sic], the cost would be somewhere around Rs 200 per kg. So, I don't think there is any logic in this.'
Further, plastic rice would be immediately obvious to the consumer with the texture being extremely different from real rice, (assuming the rice was cooked even close to properly).

What really hits me as funny is all the "testing" that the articles do to ascertain if rice is plastic or not. Burn some with a match and you can easily tell the difference.

I'm old school enough to remember kits available for purchase that relied on this technique for quick-and-easy plastic identification. While the kits no longer seem available, the information still is. And anyone who has spent much time in a plastic processing plant will rapidly be able to tell what resin is being run just from the aroma in the air.

But getting back to the costing of creating fake food, rice (and eggs) and other low cost food items are worth the bother. If your are going to create fake food, go for something expensive. Fake caviar would be a good starting point. Hydrogels are readily available. and already used in bubble tea. Add a little bit of fish flavor, salt and color - voila! cheap caviar, and most people wouldn't even know the difference - PLUS, there would be much bigger profit margins available. But alas, it's already been done.

Ok, so that idea didn't work out. How about something else, like fake cheese...

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