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.
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.
If you eat, you must read this book.
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