- Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us © 2013
- Signal: McClelland & Stewart
- xxx+446 pages
The entire processed food industry—that behemoth which generates hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales—can be summed up by the way they manipulate and market three simple ingredients: salt, sugar, and fat.
Michael Moss has done a painstaking amount of research, interviewing current and former food industry insiders and visiting (and even tasting the products of) food research labs. The result is this book: a narrative which shows how the simple human need to eat has generated a war between corporations trying to win the taste buds of consumers.
This book is stuffed full of interesting stories and facts:
- Philip Morris, the tobacco company, has acquired General Foods and Kraft (among others) and uses its marketing savvy to deflect obesity concerns the same way they deflected cancer concerns for years.
- Salt isn’t just used for taste. It covers the metallic and rotten taste of processed food.
- Through extensive research, food scientists determine the precise amount of sweetness (the “bliss point” ) to generate the greatest desire in consumers.
- While humans lose their desire to eat more sugary foods after a certain point, that reluctance is undermined when sugar is mixed with fat.
- Sugar and fat are interchangeable ingredients. A product can be marketed as “low fat” or “low sugar” by lowering the offending ingredient and replacing it with the other.
Moss has won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting—a skill highlighted in this book. His writing is compelling, shocking at times, but fair. He never sounds preachy or unreasonably biased.
If you’re concerned with what you put into your body, this is a book worth reading.