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Being a usually inferior imitation or substitute; artificial.

Not genuine; fake.

Made in imitation; artificial, especially of an inferior quality.

I use this word to indicate a food product that is made by industry to resemble a food that is not the food it is made from, such as “plant-based seafood” that is plant foods combined in such a way to make you have the experience of eating seafood, even though you are not.

Ersatz has an interesting history relating to consumer products.

It is a German word that means simple a substitute or replacement, with no implication that the substitute or replacement is inferior.

In English, ersatz generally means that the item is inferior because it’s not “the real thing.”

At the beginning of the twentieth century in Germany, products made from petroleum and other substitute materials during wartime were designated as ersatz, such as rubber made from petroleum instead of rubber sap from trees, tea made from roasted barley grass, bouillon cubes made of salt instead of meat extracts.

Today we live in a very ersatz world where many products are not what they appear to be. And we accept them as being equally valid even when they aren’t.