Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss

Journalist Michael Moss has made a career out of terrible food: his 2009 reporting about the safety of ground beef earned him a Pulitzer Prize, and he has recently published a book about the activities of processed food companies, aptly titled Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

Salt Sugar Fat is an exploration of the countless ways processed food companies manipulate their products in order to drive consumer demand. Americans are struggling with rising rates of obesity, food-related cancers, diabetes, and heart disease, but that isn't stopping us from wolfing down an average of 33 pounds of cheese per year, roughly 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, and twice the daily recommended amount of salt. Moss interviews food scientists, nutrition experts, and industry leaders, creating a comprehensive picture of the way sugar, salt, and fat are used to hook consumers, transforming what should be the occasional treat into an industry raking in roughly $1 trillion a year in the United States alone.

I usually love reading about food, but most of the products described in Salt Sugar Fat barely qualify. Instead, Moss's book examines the science that goes into making processed food addictive, and the marketing strategies used to convince consumers to ignore their own best interests when buying it. The end result is frequently disturbing, occasionally disgusting, and always absorbing, despite my very real concern that the reward center of my brain—which apparently lights up like a pinball machine when I eat potato chips, which offer the ideal combination of salt, sugar, and fat—may have been permanently depressed by reading it.
Posted by: Julianka


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