Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Michael Moss, Author
Michael Moss. Random, $28 (470p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6980-4
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 02/26/2013
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-21764-5
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American cuisine is just a delivery system for an addictive trinity of unhealthy ingredients, according to this eye-popping exposé of the processed food industry. Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Moss (Palace Coup) explains the two-faced science of salt, sugar, and fat, which impart tantalizing tastes and luscious mouthfeel that light up the same neural circuits that narcotics do—Coca-Cola, he notes, calls favorite customers “heavy users”—while causing epidemic obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. But he also crafts an absorbing insiders’ view of the food industry, where these ingredients are the main weapons in a brutally competitive war for stomach-share. He takes readers into the laboratories, marketing tests, and boardrooms where the sweet, salty, cheesy “bliss point” of cereals, snacks, sodas, and frozen dinners is obsessively pursued; the scientists and executives he talks to feel torn between health concerns—almost to a person, he observes, they avoid eating the food they sell—and the market-driven imperative to stoke consumer cravings. Moss’s vivid reportage remains alive to the pleasures of junk—“the heated fat swims over the tongue to send signals of joy to the brain”—while shrewdly analyzing the manipulative profiteering behind them. The result is a mouth-watering, gut-wrenching look at the food we hate to love. (Mar.)
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