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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013)

by Michael Moss

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A deep dive into modern day processed foods and their impact on our health. This is the modern day Diet for a New America. A must read for anyone concerned with what they are eating. My only criticism is that there was very little discussion of the relationship between sugar and type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer's). ( )
  AllInStride | Apr 20, 2016 |
Very good, and accurate,, ALL True ( )
  PaulRx04 | Apr 15, 2016 |
Ok, this book me forever to listen to, not because it wasn't worthy but because it shared facts that were hard to face at more than a snippet at a time. It was not what I thought I was getting, but I enjoyed it. I thought I was just getting another low down on what is healthy to eat. Clearly, I was not paying attention. This book is instead an investigative report on the food industry, paralleling the marketing and production efforts to the tobacco industry. I'm not into the blame game, BUT was pretty disturbed at what I learned. Wish I had known it way back when. You may not want to know this information but trust me, at some point in time, you will wish you had known it.

Oh, and -- guess what -- the library has the hardcover. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us is by Michael Moss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist. While Salt Sugar Fat may seem like a nutritional guide, it really is a look at the history of the convenience food industry and their use of sugar, salt and fat in their products. Moss takes us inside companies like General Foods, Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Nestle, and shows us the development of some famous products. From the lab research to the marketing campaigns, Moss delves into what the food giants do to entice us not only to try their products, but to crave them and keep coming back for more.

Part of this requires finding the bliss point for the food. Moss writes: "For all ingredients in food and drink, there is an optimum concentration at which the sensory pleasure is maximal. This optimum level is called the bliss point. The bliss point is a powerful phenomenon and dictates what we eat and drink more than we realize. The only real challenge for companies when it comes to the bliss point is ensuring that their products hit this sweet spot dead on. (Location 515-518)."

Of course it is sugar, salt, and fat that people enjoy and the food giants would not have products without these key tastes. Combine the bliss point in the convenience foods with clever marketing campaigns and it's no wonder people are deceived by what the labels really indicate. It is not the presence of sugar, salt, and fat in foods, but the large quantities found in convenience foods that may end up spurring a national debate on health. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are all linked to the highly processed foods and their phenomenal amounts of sugar, salt, and fat.

Yes, we all knowingly buy the soda, chips, cookies, and cheese that may be undermining our health. One of the questions may be at what point are the food companies responsible for the unhealthy amounts of the sugar, salt, and fat in the things we are buying? Aren't we responsible for our own choices? But aren't they also responsible on some level for the deceptive advertising on products? Or the marketing of these products to children? I think these questions have actually been asked for years with no satisfactory answers.

While I'm not going into specifics, I see enough examples of unhealthy lunches being provided to children by parents who, I truly believe, think they are providing a healthier lunch than what the schools could provide. The sugary drinks, convenience yogurts, snack packs, prepackaged meals, sugary processed fruits.... While I can't hold the food giants responsible for parental choice, I can't help but wonder if these highly processed foods teeming with salt, sugar and fat were not available wouldn't these kids be taking a healthier lunch? Of course, looking at the other side, these foods normally do ensure that the child will be eating some lunch. Obviously, I'm not going to solve the questions here, and we all need to accept the fact that the food giants will not be giving up these three key ingredients.

In the epilogue Moss writes: "It had taken me three and a half years of prying into the food industry’s operations to come to terms with the full range of institutional forces that compel even the best companies to churn out foods that undermine a healthy diet. Most critical, of course, is the deep dependence the industry has on salt, sugar, and fat. Almost every one of the hundreds of people I interviewed in the course of writing this book—bench chemists, nutrition scientists, behavioral biologists, food technicians, marketing executives, package designers, chief executives, lobbyists—made the point that companies won’t be giving these three up, in any real way, without a major fight. Salt, sugar, and fat are the foundation of processed food, and the overriding question the companies have in determining the formulations of their products is how much they need of each to achieve the maximum allure. (Location 5662-5668)"

Will this book change me? It may certainly make me more intentional in the grocery store. All of the processed convenience foods were originally imagined as occasional fare rather than a staple or all inclusive part of our diet. Salt Sugar Fat may be part of the clarion call that sends more people back to preparing most meals from scratch. However, I think even Moss would admit that to expect people to give up all convenience foods will likely not happen, and in the end he doesn't provide any answers to the problem.

Very Highly Recommended

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House via Netgalley for review purposes.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Never look at the food industry as your friend. Processed food is your enemy.
  lkarr | Feb 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
There is a certain enlightened segment of America that relishes a good gastro-scolding, whether delivered gently by a Michael Pollan (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”) or more vituperatively by a Mark Bittman (“In the time it takes to go into a McDonald’s, stand in line, order, wait, pay and leave, you could make oatmeal for four while taking your vitamins, brushing your teeth and half-unloading the dishwasher”). But there is a much larger segment of America whose members heedlessly eat processed foods that make them overweight and unwell. Michael Moss, a dogged investigative reporter who neither scolds nor proselytizes, is here for them.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, David Kamp (Mar 15, 2013)
 

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Michael Mossprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first thing to know about sugar is this: Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The author explores his theory that the food industry's used three essential ingredients to control much of the world's diet.

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