For more than 30 years, Hank Cardello was an executive and adviser to some of the largest food and beverage corporations in the world. For more than 30 years, he watched as corporate profits - and America's waistlines - ballooned: fattening consumers meant fattening profits. Now, in this fascinating and timely book, Cardello offers a behind-the-scenes look at the business of food, providing an insider's account of food company practices, failed government regulations, and misleading media coverage that have combined to place us in the middle of a national obesity epidemic.
With insights culled from Cardello's time in the food industry, Stuffed explores how food companies have spent the last 50 years largely ignoring healthier fare in the name of their bottom lines while pushing consumers toward "convenience" food and supersize portions without considering the health consequences. From grocery aisles to restaurant booths to boardrooms, Cardello reveals the hidden forces that have long shaped your supermarket purchases and menu selections. He examines the black-and-white mind-set that has produced the carefully targeted marketing strategies that have maximized profits for the food industry and led to weight gain for you.
But Cardello makes clear that the food companies should not take all the blame. They are merely a cog in a larger system that's broken, and here Cardello illustrates how the government and the media have only made it harder for Americans to make nutritious choices.
Highlighting both bit players and high-profile voices of change, Cardello explains the fundamental risks to one-size-fits-all regulatory solutions and the bigger dangers posed by letting the food pundits confuse the health conversation.
More than simply a chronicle of how we got here, Stuffed also puts forth a groundbreaking blueprint for the future of the food industry. In debunking the common myth that "healthier" has to mean higher costs and unpalatable tastes, Cardello provides novel but concrete steps that food companies can take to fatten their profits and slim down their customers. In addition, he stresses the realistic role that consumers must play in America's new health equation, explaining that unless they demand healthier food with their wallets, America will continue to tip the scales for years to come.
Although I found this book really interesting, “Mindless Eating” remains at the top of my Food-Book heap; that book was great!
No one will argue that being informed on the topic of healthy eating won’t help you make better choices. Being educated on the subject and recognising just how much and how often you are being manipulated will benefit you – but the bottom line for me is: it’s all about the choices you make.
No matter how clever (or sneaky) “The Industry” is, no matter how good the marketing is, YOU are responsible for what you put in your mouth. If you reach for the chips instead of the apple…. well….
I don’t have a lot of sympathy for adults, making healthy choices is a challenge! I get it! - but just because it’s difficult should you just give up? I have a hard time believing that people are that clueless and don’t understand that broccoli as a side dish is a better choice than tatter tots or that a walk to the corner store is better than driving. You may not like it, you may not do it, but you KNOW it and if you are struggling with your weight it can’t be a mystery.
When it comes to kids however, then it all seems a little more insidious to me. Saturday morning cartoon advertizing sugary foods, vending machines selling junk in schools… easy to tell an adult to control themselves and learn more about what they are doing, but the kids are at the mercy of the adults. To quote the author: they are caught in the middle; they don’t have the ability to self regulate.
If mom says dinner is a plate of chicken nuggets… what’s a kid to do? (I’m not talking about the occasional treat – I mean 3 times a week on a regular basis). I said earlier that I have a hard time believing people are that clueless when it comes to food, but maybe these kids who are not being fed properly from the start are growing up into clueless adults!! I hope not. If that is the case, then I would agree the “The Industry” could help in lots of ways.
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If you could sum up Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat and How the Food Industry Can Fix It in three words, what would they be?
Fair, complete, insightful
What did you like best about this story?
That there wasn't one particular organization or person blamed in the fattening of America. It was a balanced perspective that brought in other aspects of the food system that I have never considered or had put forth for consideration by other books. I have read many, many books on this subject.
What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?
I have other audio books that have been narrated by Mr. Dixon and I always enjoy his pace and inflections used during his readings.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
I can't see this book being made into a movie very well, but, I guess it would be, "is this the best that can be done?"
Any additional comments?
I didn't like the second part of the book because the author just goes in to how the food industry can make more Franken-foods that are healthier than current ingredients. I understood why, as his career was working within the food industry, but it made me queasy listening to his ideas.