If you have an interest in health and how food plays such a part in your overall wellness, then I would recommend this book. It's along the lines of others such as "Fast Food Nation", "Supersize Me", and Michael Pollan's books. I found it enlightening, but you have to be interested in the topic; alot of my friends and family prefer to be left in the dark when it comes to the food they prefer.
When I learned that Michael Moss wrote this book based on a food industry insider suggestion that he research how the industry uses salt, sugar, and fat, I knew I had to read it. This book lays open an insider view of the food business, and feels (in a good way) like a cross between a nutrition guide, a business book, and a marketing tips/tricks white paper. There is so much interesting detail outlined that it's impossible to do it justice in a brief review... Moss leaves no stone unturned and no "sacred cow" unexamined. He looks at how foods that are inherently unhealthy (e.g., fruit flavored yogurt, which is loaded with sugar) are marketed as health foods, and how salt, sugar, and fat are often used for their nearly addictive qualities, in addition to the more mundane task of preserving shelf life. He cites examples of when food companies attempt to make healthier versions of certain foods, they suffer because their competitors seize upon the formula change to grab market share.
Perhaps the most interesting element of the book is how the insiders Moss interviewed generally don't eat the food their companies sell (viewing it as unhealthy). He also traces the experience of insiders who experienced a "crisis of conscience" about how their companies' products affect public health. Moss doesn't condemn the food industry insiders for the choices they make (that negatively impact public health) but rather notes they're largely trying to do what they feel is best for their company in the competitive market place and preserving the company's bottom line.
I listened to the audio version of this book. Narrator Scott Brick struck the perfect tone throughout, making this a fun and fascinating listen. I'd rate this in the top three of any audiobook I've ever read, it's that good. Whether you're interested in nutrition, public health, business, or marketing, this is a must listen/read. Very highly recommended.
Probably. With a voice that it interesting to listen to no matter what they are saying.
2 ½ hours in and absolutely no new information and nothing surprising apart from the names of some people. Could be summarized in about 2 paragraphs. Narrator seems to try to speak slower to drag it on (more hours pay more???). Hoping it will get better and not make me regret the loss of my credit....
Take this review with a grain of salt, as I'm new to audiobooks and in fact Salt Sugar Fat was my first ever audiobook. I'm still processing whether I like audiobooks, or which books are good for audio, and which books I should read on paper. Also, I struggled with issues of staying focused while listening (usually on crowded train rides to/from work) and having to keep up with many names (both of people and of products/chemicals) without the ability to turn back a page or two, etc.
Having grown up on much of the food and companies discussed, be it Fritos or Oscar Meyer bologna, Mac & Cheese, et al., not to mention being recently diagnosed as borderline diabetic, this book forced a lot of soul searching in terms of how much I'm to blame for my poor eating habits and health, and how much blame can be laid at the feet of these processed food companies. Naturally I am not blameless, but frankly I never realized the extent with which these companies also shared the blame. Moss lays out the case that they should share a lot of blame, and for the most part I was there with him. Partly this is due to Moss being able to find food industry people who now regret some of their companies' excesses, while also showing some sympathy to the fact that these are companies with shareholders and responsibilities to grow the bottom line.
As other reviews have mentioned, the narration does tend toward the conspiratorial and in fact makes Moss sound more hard-hitting than I think he is.
I own & listen to a variety of audio books constantly in car and gym. My reviews remind me what I’ve read & hopefully are helpful as well.
I'm tempted to give 5 stars because I can't find any faults with the book. But I reserve that rating for a book I really loved (for entertainment or educational value) and/or would reference again. I doubt I'll get much from re-reading this one later. That said, I recommend you read it to increase your awareness of what the food manufactures do (I'd say because they have to to make money by giving the consumer what they want - although I'm sure others believe they do it because they're all evil and greedy).
I liked that the author didn't bash the industry or preach not to eat this or that. He just laid out the information (presumably facts) and lets the reader decide what to do about it. I am now more aware and will likely make healthier choices as a result, but I'm not swearing off any foods or ingredients.
The author covers, obviously, Salt, Sugar, & Fat, but also goes into things like how the industry optimizes products based on consumers' tastes as well as cost considerations. He covers products like Dr. Pepper, Kool Aid, and Lunchables. He explains the government's role in the over production of milk and cheese (which then leads to the industry trying to find ways to get us to eat more of the fat... for example 33-35 lbs / yr of cheese for the average American. Mmmm Pizza!
The book seems well researched and covers a breadth of relevant topics, but it's not boring. There are some cool things I learned, like the "bliss point" which is the term where a manufacturer optimizes the sweetness range for consumers to make the product taste the best to most people while not over-spending on sugar.
Oh, one thing the author failed to convince me of is his occasional attempt to create an analogy between salt, sugar, and fat with drug addiction. I'm not saying a person can;t be addicted to food; I'm just saying the author's analogies and points did not provide evidence enough to me to support the claim that sugar is like cocaine and fat is like opium (or whatever it is he said exactly).
I do read food labels and I'm aware of how different foods impact hunger and satiety. I lost a bunch of weight by counting calories and became educated by doing so. I mainly look at fat, carbs (and sugar especially), and protein when I am watching what I eat, but I also have noticed how much salt is in food. It's shocking, given I don't feel like I'm a person who likes salty food. I NEVER add salt to anything, just because I never really liked it or felt anything needed it. BUT I also don't usually think a can of soup or whatever is over salty until I look at the label. It's sneaky and I think often goes under the radar since it has no calories. I also have good blood pressure, so I don't necessarily have a reason to look for it. That said, I know inherently that too much is bad and so I do look to limit my intake when possible. The thing is; it's VERY hard when eating any fast food or packaged/processed food.
And THAT IS THE BIG TAKE-AWAY from this book. Fast Food / Processed Food utilizes these ingredients in a strategic way to sell more and improve the food's shelf-life. So if you want to limit your salt/sugar/fat, then YOU MUST LIMIT YOUR INTAKE of Fast Food / Processed Food.
To close, I recommend the book. I also think that the food industry is where it is because they give the consumer what they are willing to pay for; taste, convenience, low-price. AND because most consumers aren't aware of the health implications. They don't even bother reading the nutrition labels and ingredients most of the time. I support consumer education and then eventually more consumers will "boycott" the "bad" foods and create a demand for "healthful" foods. Then the industry will put their R&D and marketing power behind better solutions. Manufacturers compete based on what's important to consumers.
Great book! Well researched and highly recommended. Author interviews vast numbers of insiders in the food industry and come away with a complete view of processed food in the US
I would not only recommend it but suggest it.
Kept me very interested.
yes, very much.
the truth behind the shelves
I am totally honored to have listened to the book. I loved it so much I am buying the paperback and give it as gifts.
This was pretty repetitive overall. A lot of ideas were mentioned over and over again. The saving grace of the book was the investigative journalism. There is some interesting information about processed food companies here but you have to get through the fluff.