Saturday, November 23, 2013

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss


Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
by Michael Moss
narrated by Scott Brick
Random House Audio, 2013
14 hours and 34 minutes
source: borrowed from library

Brief summary (from publisher):
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.

My thoughts:
Listening to Cooked by Michael Pollan last spring (my review) triggered my latest foodie audiobook binge. Salt, Sugar, Fat was the perfect follow-up. It is an interesting contrast to Cooked  in that it tackles the opposite end of the eating spectrum - heavily processed foods and the food processing industry in general.

As the title suggests, the book is divided into three sections - salt, sugar, and fat - and offers an in-depth study of food science, market research, sales tactics, and daily operations of the industry giants.

Initially, I enjoyed the foodie nostalgia. Do you remember all the great breakfast cereals of the 60's and 70's? How about the "cola wars", or the novelty of a TV dinner? Nobody paid attention to salt, sugar, or fat back then. Who knew they would become such threats to public health?

The research and development aspect of the book was riveting. Scientists have actually studied and identified specific "bliss points" for salt, sugar, or fat. They have calculated the exact amount needed to keep you from eating just one potato chip.

Gradually my reaction turned to anger. Marketing tactics targeting "heavy users", deceptive labeling, manipulative advertising, and a blatant disregard for public health infuriated me! It's no wonder the highest level executives avoid their own products.

I could rant at great length, but will instead leave you with my main take-away: Knowledge is the best defense. Know what is in your food. Become aware of the sly marketing tactics employed by the food processing industry. This book has made me even more committed to home cooking. Michael Pollan would be proud.

A note on the audio production:
Scott Brick, as always, is a compelling voice for nonfiction. I think he is one of the best narrators in the business today.

Bottom line: 
If you eat, you must read this book.

My rating:



Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

36 comments:

  1. Oh I'm so glad to hear this is a good audio (well, it's Scott Brick!). It's good to get riled up every once in a while -- I need to add this one to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth F - It's been a long time since a book got me this riled up!

      Delete
  2. I read both Cooked and Salt Sugar Fat this year, too, but in the opposite order. They are excellent companion books and very motivating. I get an extra satisfaction from cooking at home when it feels like I'm subverting the modern food industry that puts profits over public health and fights tooth-and-nail any attempt to change that.

    Joy's Book Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joy - I've been recommending both of these books to everyone!

      Delete
  3. Loved your review. I don't do well with audio books though - I like to read on the page. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carole - Thanks. I'm sure this one is just as good in print.

      Delete
  4. Great line- If you eat, you must read this book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Reading ingredient labels is always great incentive to cook from scratch, I think. Some things you find are downright scary as well as unpronounceable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janel - If I can't pronounce it, chances are I don't want to eat it either.

      Delete
  6. I think I have this in print - it sounds like I need to dig it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy - It will certainly motivate anyone to cook more at home.

      Delete
  7. I enjoyed your review! Sadly, I'm not much of a cook, but wish there were better choices. It really is a struggle to resist, butter, salt, sugar...It would be better to have a more health conscious society.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pat. The companies seems to care more about the bottom line than the health of consumers.

      Delete
  8. It is a disgrace as to how much unnecessary salt sugar and fat there is in food. When baking I always cut the/ Ugarit in half and will never cook from certain cooks who love the sugar and fat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Esme - There are certain cookbooks I avoid for the same reasons :-(

      Delete
  9. I hate it when I have to look at, examine, and then put down sausages, pastry, processed meats in the grocery story. I love them but have stopped buying them...sigh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Harvee - I know exactly how you feel...

      Delete
  10. I've got this book on my reading list, but after reading your review, I plan on getting the audiobook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vicki - I'm sure it's very good in print, too… the important thing is that people read it.

      Delete
  11. This book has been on my radar for a while, I remember Joy's series of posts about it too. Knowledge is the best defense, as is cooking at home. I certainly hope to read this (and Cooked) sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Louise - Joy's posts prompted me to borrow the book from my library. Both Cooked and this one are well worth the read!

      Delete
  12. I've been interested in this book due to different Weekend Cooking features... I agree that knowledge is the best defense. What absolutely boggles the mind is the amount of money and research that goes into marketing these and increasing consumption. And they've SUCCEEDED! I am impressed (and of course a little horrified) by the whole business, especially as I am very aware of the essence of the bottom-line and various marketing strategies from my day job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cecelia - Sounds like you are already primed to be outraged by this book! ;-)

      Delete
  13. Oh, dear. I don't think I'll mention what I'm eating for dinner while I read this. But it is an exception, and an emergency, so I feel a little better! I'm very grateful that I learned to cook and like to do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Audrey - Exceptions for emergencies always permitted ;-)

      Delete
  14. This book satisfies a deeper hunger for knowledge. Moss invites us to see the industry as it actually is: filled with almost-heroes and almost-villains, extraordinary intrigue, and of course, sugar, fat, and salt.

    Irene Southeast Alaska Fishing Vacations Fireweed Lodge

    ReplyDelete
  15. This book has been on my "to read" list forever. Glad to know I should keep it there--sounds very interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kerry Ann - Yes, definitely it on the list. It's a fascinating book!

      Delete
  16. You might also enjoy Fat Chance by Robert Lustig. He also discusses the food industry's effort to aid our addiction to sugar. I'll add your suggestion to my list.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow, I've not heard of this book, but I'm a big fan of Michael Pollan's books, so this sounds like a "must read" to me.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I really want to read this book, but it is SOOOOO going to piss me off! I have a real bad attitude toward the American food industry already. lol

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think the fact the people behind the food don't eat it says it all! Sounds an important read.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The food industry certainly has a lot to answer for.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gah! I eat and I'm sure I fall prey to all of their tricks.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails