From a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.
Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and 70 pounds of sugar (about 22 teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that 26 million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.
In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. 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.
Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the "bliss point" of sugary beverages or enhance the "mouthfeel" of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed - in a technique adapted from tobacco companies - to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as "fat-free" or "low-salt". He talks to concerned executives who confess 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. Just as millions of "heavy users" - as the companies refer to their most ardent customers - are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
©2013 Michael Moss (P)2013 Random House Audio
"What happens when one of the country’s great investigative reporters infiltrates the most disastrous cartel of modern times: a processed food industry that’s making a fortune by slowly poisoning an unwitting population? You get this terrific, powerfully written book, jammed with startling disclosures, jaw-dropping confessions and, importantly, the charting of a path to a better, healthier future. This book should be read by anyone who tears a shiny wrapper and opens wide. That’s all of us." (Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President)
"In this meticulously researched book, Michael Moss tells the chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in this country. He understands a vital and terrifying truth: that we are not just eating fast food when we succumb to the siren song of sugar, fat, and salt. We are fundamentally changing our lives - and the world around us.” (Alice Waters)
Updates since the print version
Eye opening and revealing facts regarding the food industry and how they are able to adulterate our foods. Sad and scary facts on what we are eating and what we have become as a society of obese with chronic ailments. This can give you good insight on how that's happened and how to avoid the foods discussed. Interesting from a scientific standpoint add a star if you are a food technologist or chemist.
Say something about yourself!
In this highly illuminating book, Mr. Moss shows that many processed foods are formulated for the maximum sugar “bliss,” by Big Food manufacturers. They employ the high math of regression analysis to calculate the 'bliss point,' or the precise amount of sugar that will send consumers over the moon. In his meticulous examination of the Big Food industry, Mr Moss shows how sugar, along with salt and fat have become the industry pillars because of their ability to stimulating overeating, and cover up the tastes of chemical additives.
He also demonstrates that the strategy behind this $1-trillion-a-year industry is a ruthless exploitation of our built-in cravings for salt, sugar and fat, as well as aggressive marketing of junk food. They employ insidious tactics to keep their “heavy users” (the industry term) using and to hook new consumers, especially children. A few years ago, a Kellogg’s commercial claimed that Frosted Mini-Wheats had been clinically shown to increase children's brain power by 20%.
It turns out that when food manufacturers compete, we consumers lose. Over the last 30 years, unhealthy processed food came to fully dominate the American diet. It accounts for 70% of the calories that Americans consume. Thanks to processed food, we became the fattest nation in the world! And we are getting fatter. The total economic cost of the current obesity crisis is approaching $300 billion a year. So everyone is paying the price.
Overall it is not an optimistic book, although Mr. Moss do offer few ways by which we can protect ourselves
• Think of the grocery store as a battlefield, dotted with landmines itching to go off
• Read and understand food labels and marketing gimmicks
• Make better bad choices - a little goes a long way
• Retrain your taste buds – it only takes several weeks
I'd like to add one myself: read/listen to the book!
Good book. Seems to be well researched and with several insider sources from the food industry on how they work to get us hooked on their product. And on how they neglect the healthimplications for the the general consumer.
Scott Brick: What can you say... excellent.
This is a book stuffed with facts, some of them a bit alarming for the general consumer, inspite of that I really wanted to listen to it one stretch.
Read it and stop buying those super sized meals...
I'm Trying to see the world with my ears.
The book is easy to read and understand, but there is a bit of dullness at times, however not too preachy, an informational tone overall.
Salt, Sugar, and Fat (hope you read those on the cover because they will be mentioned time and again in this book) is hardly an original concept. Having read many books on the subjects of nutrition and obesity, I was unimpressed on the information provided in this book on the subject as a whole. This book is a repackaging of "The End of Overeating" by Dr. David Kessler, where he goes into great detail on how food companies layer fat, sugar, and salt on top of each other to entice people to unconsciously overeat.
Outside of the main thesis of this book, why I ended up giving it 4/5 stars, the history of the food companies from the 40's & 50's to today is fascinating and well presented. The one story of the invention of Jello instant pudding in particular showed where the food companies started and how far down the slope they have gone. As a kid of the 90's, many of the commercial campaigns that Moss depicts hit home for me because I remember begging my parents for the products he describes.
Finally, the salt section of the book, while the least approachable of the three, does provide some of the best information on how ingredients affect the taste of processed food. Of all the information that Moss pulled together for this book, the firsthand accounts at Campbell's and Kellogg were eye opening and less regurgitative than other points in the book.
Overall, this is a great listen if you haven't read other books on the subject and are thinking of becoming more educated on the matter of processed foods. If you have read other books on this matter, then this won’t provide any groundbreaking new information that hasn't been presented elsewhere.
On a side note, the narrator of this was poorly chosen. Akin to an Atlas Shrugged veneer, which was sometimes commentary to the corporate aspects of this book, but mostly fell flat for me.
Yes, we all know processed food is bad for us but eat it anyway. What we don't know is what is in that food and the extent of consumer manipulation by the food industry. The government has played a role in this as well, but they are now turning around and complaining about the high obesity rate when they are part of the problem. My favorite chapter was the one on cheese. In a sentence from the book - "cheese went from being a food to being an ingredient". How true. There many enlightening facts which I cannot quote since I listened to the book but I believe it was something along the lines of a cup of Ragu having as much sugar as 4 Oreos. That tends to make you aware. A very enlightening book.
recommending this one, especially to those that have childern, or thinking of having childern.
when having lunch with a food favoring expert....the expert would not eat his own creations.
Whats gone wrong with food.
I was disappointed by the book. It's a history book on food industries since early 1900s. It has small parts on how food industries use sugar salt and fat, but they are lost in the historical documentaries. I lost interest in the book and stopped reading it.
Yep. Would probably make for a great movie!
This could have been far more succinct. By chapter 8 I had had my fill, and had to force myself to finish it. Somewhat agree with other users that dramatics of the performer, Scott Brick, may have been excessive at points, but also kept the book entertaining.
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