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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us | [Michael Moss]

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, February 2013 - I’m going to go ahead and predict that Salt Sugar Fat will be the biggest exposé to hit the food industry since Fast Food Nation. Intelligently and lucidly written (by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, no less), this book is going to make serious waves. It’s already causing mini-waves in my own home as I frantically figure out what in the world to stock my cupboard with. In Salt Sugar Fat we meet the major players inside the processed food industry, as well as learning about all the things that they understand about human nature that the average person doesn’t. Quite simply, we are built to crave salt, sugar, and fat, and the big food companies make sure they deliver it cheaply and by the truckload. You’ll never view food – and your relationship with it – the same again. —Emily, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2013 Michael Moss (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Michael New Orleans, LA 03-03-13
    Michael New Orleans, LA 03-03-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is all too real, and YOU are the victim."

    There are times when you listen to horror audiobooks for sheer listening enjoyment.

    In this case, it's all too real, and you are the victim.

    Moss is, essentially, an industry whistleblower. A food industry whistleblower, to be precise. And what he reveals is something many of us suspected, but is no less dramatically disturbing.

    Basically the food industry is creating and adding extremely addictive chemicals to processed foods of all types, with the single intent to get you to buy more, eat more, and repeat ad nauseum. Salt, sugar and fat additives are manipulated at the molecular level to cause the pleasure centers of the consumer's brain (the very same pleasure centers affected by heroin addicts) to dramatically respond to and become addicted to the taste of the grocery store foods you eat, causing you to again, buy more, eat more, thus fattening yourself as well the food industry's (and the health insurance industry's) sizable wallets.

    These additives are now causing a generation of pre-teen illnesses once only seen in the very elderly, and causing the soon to retire baby boomers to face illnesses that don't have to be endured.

    We have placed our trust in the food industry, quickly swallowing, literally, what we're told. It's time to wake up, to realize that trust has been nightmarishly broken, and our very health and lives are in danger. And the food industry couldn't care less.

    These reveals aren't speculation, but facts backed up by insider company documentation, with more discovered on a daily basis. The sheer amount of proven conclusions are stunning, and the result is a national disaster. Moss was recently on the Oz show, among others, and is spreading the word. It's sobering, and it's scary, to state it plainly.

    I can speak solidly on this audiobook's conclusions, having once weighed 390 pounds and endured a horrible physical lifestyle. I began to do the research, and discovered much speculation regarding what Moss has now proven to be fact. It disturbed me so much, that it changed my life, and I went on a strict program of healthier foods, additional water intake, and walking daily. As the processed foods remains washed out of my body, I began to lose a dramatic amount of weight, my health returned, and I felt better than I had in a very long time. I've kept the weight off, and enjoy my life immensely. I'm living proof that these processed foods can damage you, and that it's not too late to change.

    Dear Audible listener, note the star rating I've given this book. VERY FEW of my reviews garnish such a positive recommendation. I cannot help by make this my most highly recommended listen thus far for 2013. And when you listen, I'm confident that you'll agree.

    I appreciate that you've taken the time to read this review. Now, take the time to learn the truth about what you eat, and what it's doing to you.

    Stop being the victim.

    89 of 95 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 05-29-13
    Grant NANTUCKET, MA, United States 05-29-13 Member Since 2008

    caffeinated

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    "Tasty, and nutritious."

    I really liked this book. One of the most compelling and telling facts that I took away from it is that the people who create processed foods, in general, actively shy away from consuming them in their own diet. The history of processed foods is well told here. The moral of the story: try not to eat foods that require chemists, engineers and lawyers to produce. You'll be happier and live longer.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 03-19-13
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 03-19-13 Member Since 2010
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    "The Smoking Gun on the Obesity Epidemic"

    If you want to know what caused the obesity epidemic, here it is!

    Sugar, Salt, Fat is about how the processed food industry figured out how to use sugar, salt, and fat to make processed foods taste more than just good, but to make them something close to addictive. With this technology, they could make cheap, unnutritious foods taste good, and use the resulting high margins to fund advertising to drive demand. The food industry also made these foods more convenient than cooking. They even played a role in killing off home economics in the schools to ensure the next generation would not know how to cook.

    Oh, one little side-effect that the industry needs to sweep under the rug: because these processed foods are so unlike foods found in nature, the body body can't properly gauge when these foods make the body full -- causing people to consume far more calories than they need.

    Some interesting angles to the story are the involvement of the tobacco industry, such as Phillip Morris’s acquisition of food companies; and the healthy lifestyles pursued by the food industry executives, who eat their own products far more sparingly than the general public does.

    This is not rocket science, but it’s great investigative journalism. It may be the best investigative journalism about the food industry since Upton Sinclair's work a century ago about food impurities. Yes, that good; that important.

    One minor annoyance is that the narrator, Scott Brick, over dramatizes. Brick mostly narrates fiction, which he should probably stick to. He was perhaps chosen because he did an excellent narration of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (another great book for folks concerned about modern food), but that book was more of a memoir, making it a better fit with his narration style. Sugar, Salt, Fat is pure investigative journalism. The emotional level of Brick’s reading doesn’t fit with this genre.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flapjack NC, USA 03-09-13
    Flapjack NC, USA 03-09-13 Member Since 2007

    Flapjack Jones

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    "I thought I knew this stuff."

    Moss interviews food scientists and corporate leaders to detail exactly how our American diet has been manipulated by the processed food creators. Human response to food additives has been so well studied and understood that I became convinced we are all being duped. Without full knowledge of how each product is made, we are defenseless against the subtle emotional and physiological responses that the food companies use to sell their products.

    I am not a fan of Scott Brick's narration. The diction is perfect, but his tone of bleak resignation and condescension detracts from a great listen. He is easy to follow but I think the book sounds more even-handed than his tone implies.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 02-27-13
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 02-27-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Shocking Must Read!"

    The point that is made over and over - that the obesity epidemic was scientifically engineered to get the exact results it has produced, i.e. sell a lot of processed food with no concern for health - is devastating to whatever crumb of credibility the food industry has left. The research that Michael Moss presents I found to be comprehensive and convincing. I hope parents take the time to listen to this and think of how to change the behaviors that "convenience" foods have instilled in the tastes of our kids. It is worth the time and the credit. Otherwise, we are out gunned in the fight.

    On a purely personal note, I find the narration slightly overly conspiratorial and breathless. But I got used to it after awhile.

    38 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 11-14-13
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "The Kind of Writing I Wish For"

    Salt Sugar Fat is almost unthinkable. Not just in its content, in the unimaginable marketing strategies, innumerable addatives with powerful addicting properties, deceptive tactics, and blatant disregard for consumer health described in this book; not just in the sheer timeline and product scope of the reporting; not just in the reasoned approached the author takes to the shocking evidence uncovered; but also in Michael Moss's skill at investigative reporting and his ability to uncover the full strategies and willful ignorance that defines the mega food corporations.

    Divided into three sections (Sugar, Fat, and then Salt) he takes us through the history of products that rely on these ingredients to hook, keep, and addict us. It is a stunning work of reporting in detail and scale. More impressive, is Moss's ability to remain dispassionate and intellectual as the book picks up steam. It is non-fiction, but I tore through this book with the same speed as I do a skillful thriller. This book is as addictive as the products it discusses. You will learn the unending reliance the food conglomerates have on sugar, salt, and fat and what this reliance has done to our collective health. Bringing all this wonderful writing to you is Scott Brick, possibly the best reader in the Audible catalogue.

    This book makes my list of the best books I've read this year. It'll make yours too.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nate Jackson, MS, United States 07-17-13
    Nate Jackson, MS, United States 07-17-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Food = Drugs"

    Equal parts Fast Food Nation, The Informant!, and The Omnivore's Dilemma. It does a great job of showing the closed door meetings, food industry rivalries, Wall Street, the government, as well as our own demands that have gotten us into the cluster we are in today. It was highly informative in not only mentioning the key players behind the food giants (like Cargill that provides the salt/sugar/fat and Monell that does the taste research), but also in the gradual developments and insider terms/tricks (stomach share, bliss point, checkoff money, line extension, single serving, vanishing caloric density) that have come together for the perfect storm of our obesity problem. Food = Drugs. I'm not going to lie... it made me want cookies, cheese, and chips pretty bad, though!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    Naturalbohemian Oregon City, OR United States 03-05-13
    Naturalbohemian Oregon City, OR United States 03-05-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Interesting book!"

    I liked this book a lot. I really enjoyed the information about the history of processed foods. Although I'm normally a Scott Brick fan, I have to agree with the other reviewer about his narration of this particular book.It didn't ruin the book for me, but I found it distracting.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curt Aurora, CO, United States 03-10-13
    Curt Aurora, CO, United States 03-10-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Excellent but narrator over the top"
    What made the experience of listening to Salt Sugar Fat the most enjoyable?

    Facinating


    Would you be willing to try another one of Scott Brick’s performances?

    One of the best narrators forgets that over dramatizing makes the book hard to listen to. Let the words speak for themselves.


    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa GAITHERSBURG, MD, United States 03-05-13
    Lisa GAITHERSBURG, MD, United States 03-05-13

    Science Fiction fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overacted by narrator"
    What did you like best about Salt Sugar Fat? What did you like least?

    This is a well thought out book ruined by overacting by the narrator. Just read the book. Note to Brick: This is not fiction, you don’t have to put emotion into every line. I have another book narrated by Scott Brick and it is nearly unlistenable. Less is more. Do yourself a favor, just get the printed version


    What didn’t you like about Scott Brick’s performance?

    Overacted. This is a nonfiction book. He does not need to emote with every line. It was distracting and took away from the interesting topic of the book


    23 of 29 people found this review helpful
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