Author(s): Michael MossDownload
Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese and 70 pounds of sugar. They ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from salt shakers. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how this happened. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century–including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more–Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research. He goes inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouth feel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks to redirect concerns about the health risks of products. He talks to concerned executives who explain that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: the industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat.
Some Reviews: 3141 in Goodreads.com
Probably like most of you, I thought Michael Moss’s Salt, Sugar, Fat would be about how these ingredients are not good for us, how to eliminate them from our diets, and perhaps a few recipes to get us started. I was wrong. This book is far more fascinating than that. It’s a well written, in depth look at the food industry, and how the products we all know came into being and developed over the years. It names companies like Kellogg’s, Kraft, Campbell’s and the soft drink giants that produce Coke, Pepsi, and even Dr Pepper, as well as other.
Did you know that the amount of sugar and cheese that we each eat today has tripled since 1970? No wonder there is an obesity epidemic today. I was very interested in the story of how the US Government was responsible for the increase in cheese production, how the excess was stored, and how it finally made it’s way into a lot of everyday foods as time went by.
There are stories about the science behind product development, and how advertising and product placement get our attention, and get us to buy more. One thing became very clear, and that is that processed foods could not exist without salt, sugar or fat. Even some of the people who used to work for these companies now know that in order to avoid these substances, they also have to avoid the very foods those companies produce. While I do a lot of my own baking, and seldom buy convenience foods, I’m starting to think the cans and boxes that are currently in my house may be greatly reduced in the future. I will likely make more of my own soups and salad dressings and maybe even bread in the future.
I think this is an important piece of literature that will withstand the test of time, and will likely be a great reference book about the food industry for many years to come. It’s a thick book (over 400 pages) but not difficult reading. It will be available for purchase March 12, 2013. Look for it when the time comes. I think everyone should read it.
Wow, wow, wow. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book. I feel I have been forcing this book into conversations I’ve had with people all week. I literally cannot shut up about it. It is one of the most interesting, engaging non-fiction books I’ve read in years.
Ever wonder how Coke and Pepsi came to be enemies? How a grocery store is strategically designed to pray on innocent shoppers? How General Foods literally put their own people in Home Ec classes around America to promote convenience over making healthy food from scratch? It’s all in here and loads more.
These sort of encapsulated histories of big industries can be interesting at first… but you quickly tire of being inundated with thousands of mundane facts and statistics (at least I do). Salt Sugar Fat never once bored me. It was endlessly fascinating, horrifying and enlightening. I highly recommend listening on audio (done by Scott Brick) at the gym and while grocery shopping. That’s what I did, and I was shocked at how much of the book I was able to confirm with my very eyes on the shelves of my local store.
The last passage summed up my entire takeaway. That we ultimately have choices when we shop and while this book should not serve as a moral scolding, it should empower the reader to understand what is truly behind all the labels in advertising so we can make educated choices. And that is exactly what this book did for me.
I pledge to put this in the hands of at least 10 other people by end of the year.
This book does not vilify food manufacturers, nor does it make excuses for them: what it does is make one realize what one is up against every time one enters a grocery or convenience store or looks at a vending machine. In sections devoted to the role of salt (and sodium), sugar and fat in processed foods, Moss lays out the series of techniques that food scientists, advertisers, package designers, financial officers and sellers use to discover, shape and give consumers exactly what they want. Moss shows that individuals in the food industrial complex can try to do the best by their customer, but still struggle to change an industry driven by stock prices and profit margins. Unfortunately, processed foods will not become healthier until consumers stop buying them in their current forms. The book becomes a bit repetitive in the salt and fat sections, but it still manages to be a page-turner.
In the course of the book, Moss brings up the existence of a bliss point in enjoying sugar, the effect of sugar on dulling our awareness of fat, the heightening of our salt cravings and our ability to resensitize our palate, the Coke and Pepsi wars (and how no side loses), the ability of minimally edible foods like Lunchables to attract children, the advertising of pure fructose as “made from real fruits,” and the limited role of the USDA and FDA in shaping food policy. Together, these stories reveal the true cost of convenience and unimpeded capitalism on the consumer: food addiction, obesity, and heart disease.
What can the consumer do? Read the nutrition label and list of ingredients (or ask someone with better vision to read them for you), write down a grocery list before shopping and stick to it, be especially careful with what you give very young children, and try to be mindful about what you consume without developing orthorexia. Good luck!
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I thought this book was amazing! I consider myself to be a fairly healthy eater. I like fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from too much processed food. However, after reading this book I have even more of a commitment from staying away from any food that was developed in a laboratory. The author is not preachy. He is not advocating for a certain diet. I have been turned off by other authors such as Michael Pollan who seem to be pushing eating rules on people that are not practical. Instead, Moss has set himself the task of investigating how the processed food giants, including Kraft, Kellog’s and others, have relied on the three pillars of Salt, Sugar and Fat to seduce people into eating the maximum amount of processed foods.
The author is the journalist who first cracked open the “pink slime” meat scandal and the depth of his investigative journalism is really impressive. It seems that he has spoken with scores of researchers, marketers and financial officers of the processed food companies in order to learn about things such as the invention of the Lunchable, as a way to sell more processed meats, and the growth of cheese from a food meant to be savored on its own into an ingredient that is shoved into a million different kinds of food.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in nutrition, or in the business of food. I would also recommend it to anyone who is looking for a push to close up the bag of chips or give up a soda habit.
Salt, Sugar, Fat (the book-that is) is a healthy read about the unhealthy industry of processed foods. Although a little long-winded at times (the only reason for the 4-star rating, otherwise it would have received a 5-star rating)this book will be a healthy addition to your diet.
In my home I work really hard to make as much as possible from scratch, but I also work full-time and feel like I am literally going out of my mind trying to keep up at times. This book reinforces the importance of not relying on processed food from day-to-day making what I do rewarding in the long run.
I am always ranting about how things really took a turn for the worse, when mothers started to work in the late 40’s, early 50’s and this book is just more re-enforcement for that theory of mine. Processed food really came out of that time period due to working mothers needing quicker ways to provide meals for their families after a long day of work.
The most disturbing part is that their seems to be no morality in what the food manufacturers are doing, they are so driven by profit that the greater good keeps getting pushed aside. But, fear not, I see a movement happening amongst my fellow humans and I do believe that something better must be around the corner.
My recommendation is to eat simple foods-steamed veggies, baked or grilled lean meats, rice, fruits (you will be amazed by how much better you feel and surprised when some of those ailments clear up)-just do not buy those boxed items, then the food manufactures will have do do something to meet the new demands of the more health conscience consumer.
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