Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

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McClelland & Stewart, Feb 26, 2013 - Business & Economics - 352 pages
From a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the troubling story of the rise of the processed food industry -- and how it used salt, sugar, and fat to addict us. 

Sugar Fat is a journey into the highly secretive world of the processed food giants, and the story of how they have deployed these three essential ingredients, over the past five decades, to dominate the North American diet. This is an eye-opening book that demonstrates how the makers of these foods have chosen, time and again, to double down on their efforts to increase consumption and profits, gambling that consumers and regulators would never figure them out. With meticulous original reporting, access to confidential files and memos, and numerous sources from deep inside the industry, it shows how these companies have pushed ahead, despite their own misgivings (never aired publicly). Salt Sugar Fat is the story of how we got here, and it will hold the food giants accountable for the social costs that keep climbing even as some of the industry's own say, "Enough already."

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The book was interesting for its dissection of the means and mechanisms used by food companies to make processed foods palatable. The science was explained well, and the history detailed in quite a spectacular way when you consider it was based on the internal workings of private companies. Where Moss falls down, and hard, is in trying really hard to flat-out blame the food companies for the fattening of America and the world. These companies make a product, which they try to sell as much of as possible. They are not responsible for things like inner-city food desserts. And if they adopt the prescriptions proposed for them ("Just make food with less sugar, salt, and fat!") they will indeed cease to exist because nobody buys these foods for their health benefits. The foods are bought because they are delicious. Moss completely removes all the blame, and even worse, all the agency, from the customers buying the foods. As if they had no choice, no ability to resist, the sweet allure of candy, chips, and pop. If there are improvements to be made, they will not come voluntarily from the food industry, each in cut-throat competition with the other. The solution must come from government, and customers, or by accepting the fact that people really like food that is bad for them. 

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The Company Jewels
No Sugar No Fat No Sales
part three
I Feel So Sorry for the Public

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About the author (2013)

MICHAEL MOSS was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for exploratory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 2006 and 1999. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to the Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.

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