Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss (Random House, $28.00, 446 pages)
First, the food companies themselves are hooked on salt, sugar and fat. Their relentless drive to achieve the greatest allure for the lowest possible cost has drawn them, inexorably, to these three ingredients time and time again. Sugar not only sweetens, it replaces more costly ingredients – like tomatoes in ketchup – to add bulk and texture. For little added expense, a variety of fats can be slipped into food formulas to stimulate overeating and improve mouthfeel. And salt, barely more expensive than water, has miraculous powers to boost the appeal of processed food.
Warning: This book may upset your current eating habits! The internet reminds us on a daily basis that Americans are overweight and at risk for developing coronary artery disease and diabetes. The boldest of these warnings are usually vehicles for some new diet or exercise program. Others are summaries of the latest scientific papers on eating habits and health outcomes.
At last, Pulitzer Prize winning writer Michael Moss has provided health-conscious readers with a comprehensive and entertaining look at the history and production of the processed food that comprises the majority of today’s grocery cart contents. Moss delivers his message – that big food manufacturers are only concerned with profits, in a calm, firm voice that conveys respect for the reader. His reporting style of presentation leads the reader through the realms of salt, sugar and fat – the components that are manipulated by manufacturers into the “foods” like the Oreos, Cheetos and chips craved by millions of people in all walks of life.
The scientific background for each of the three cravings is well documented. Moss takes on each separately, which allows the reader a thoughtful consideration of the topic rather than an overwhelming one. While there is a high correlation among the three, there is minimal repetition. Each is a compelling topic and together they are likely to have more than a slight impact on the future shopping and eating habits of readers.
Highly recommended. This is three books in one!
This book was purchased by the reviewer. “Michael Moss tells the chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in the country.” Alice Waters