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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us [Kindle Edition]

Michael Moss
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (783 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Atlantic • The Huffington Post • Men’s Journal • MSN (U.K.) • Kirkus Reviews • Publishers Weekly

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARD FOR WRITING AND LITERATURE


Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese and seventy pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we ended up here. Featuring examples from Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Capri Sun, and many more, Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research. He takes us into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
 
Praise for Salt Sugar Fat
 
“[Michael] Moss has written a Fast Food Nation for the processed food industry. Burrowing deep inside the big food manufacturers, he discovered how junk food is formulated to make us eat more of it and, he argues persuasively, actually to addict us.”—Michael Pollan
 
“If you had any doubt as to the food industry’s complicity in our obesity epidemic, it will evaporate when you read this book.”The Washington Post
 
“Vital reading for the discerning food consumer.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“The chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in this country . . . Michael Moss understands a vital and terrifying truth: that we are not just eating fast food when we succumb to the siren song of sugar, fat, and salt. We are fundamentally changing our lives—and the world around us.”—Alice Waters
 
“Propulsively written [and] persuasively argued . . . an exactingly researched, deeply reported work of advocacy journalism.”The Boston Globe

“A remarkable accomplishment.”The New York Times Book Review


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q&A with Michael Moss

Michael Moss

Q. How did you land on salt, sugar, and fat as your way to write about the industry? Why these three ingredients?

A. I’d been investigating a surge in deadly outbreaks of E. coli in meat when an industry source, a microbiologist, suggested that if I wanted to see an even bigger public health hazard, I should look at what food companies were intentionally adding to their products, starting with salt. And sure enough, when I looked at this--by gaining access to high level industry officials and a trove of sensitive, internal records--a window opened on how aggressive the industry was wielding not only salt, but sugar and fat, too. These are the pillars of processed foods, the three ingredients without which there would be no processed foods. Salt, sugar and fat drive consumption by adding flavor and allure. But surprisingly, they also mask bitter flavors that develop in the manufacturing process. They enable these foods to sit in warehouses or on the grocery shelf for months. And, most critically to the industry's financial success, they are very inexpensive.

Q. So, how big is the processed food industry, exactly? What kind of scale are we talking about here?

A. Huge. Grocery sales now top $1 trillion a year in the U.S., with more than 300 manufacturers employing 1.4 million workers, or 12 percent of all American manufacturing jobs. Global sales exceed $3 trillion. But the figure I find most revealing is 60,000: That’s the number of different products found on the shelves of our largest supermarkets.

Q. How did this get so big?

A. The food processing industry is more than a century old--if you count the invention of breakfast cereals--so it’s been steady growth. But things really took off in the 1950s with the promotion of convenience foods whose design and marketing was aimed at the increasing numbers of families with both parents working outside the home. The industry's expansion, since then, has been entirely unrestrained. While food safety is heavily regulated, the government has been industry's best friend and partner in encouraging Americans to become more dependent on processed foods.

Q. What three things should a health-conscious supermarket shopper keep in mind?

A. The most alluring products--those with the highest amounts of salt, sugar and fat--are strategically placed at eye-level on the grocery shelf. You typically have to stoop down to find, say, plain oatmeal. (Healthier products are generally up high or down low.) Companies also play the better-nutrition card by plastering their packaging with terms like "all natural," "contains whole grains," “contains real fruit juice,” and "lean," which belie the true contents of the products. Reading labels is not easy. Only since the 1990s have the manufacturers even been required to reveal the true salt, sugar, fat and caloric loads of their products, which are itemized in a box called the "nutrient facts." But one game that many companies still play is to divide these numbers in half, or even thirds, by reporting this critical information per serving--which are typically tiny portions. In particular, they do this for cookies and chips, knowing that most people can't resist eating the entire three-serving bag. Check it out sometime. See how many “servings” that little bag of chips contains.

From Booklist

The U.S. has the highest rate of obesity in the world, much of it due to the abundance of cheap, calorie-rich, processed food. Food companies manipulate our biological desires to scientifically engineer foods that induce cravings to overeat, using terms like mouth feel for fats and bliss point for sugars to tinker with formulations that will trigger the optimum food high. Coke even refers to their best customers as heavy users. Moss portrays how the industry discovered the allure of added sugar in the 1900s, and has been jacking up the levels ever since, without regard for consumer health, in everything from soda to breakfast cereals to instant pudding, in a race for market share. The food industry is not about to change, but this book is a wake-up call to the issues and tactics at play and to the fact that we are not helpless in facing them down. Moss is an investigative reporter with the New York Times; he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his investigation of the dangers of contaminated meat. --David Siegfried

Product Details

  • File Size: 2175 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (February 26, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00985E3UG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,926 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
588 of 617 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really want you, my fellow American, maybe my fellow tubby American (yes, I've lost a bunch of weight, but I'm still XL) to read this book. Before I review the contents, a note and a couple prefaces, ok?

Note to folks thinking this is a diet or cooking type book: It's not. It is exactly what the subtitle suggests: "How the Food Giants Hooked Us." It's about how foods are made to take you to the sugar bliss point, to the higher fat realms of food pleasure, and so on. How we got these manufactured products Americans can't seem to stop guzzling and munching...and that have led to us being the fattest nation on the planet. Just know that. It might help you diet (opens your eyes to the scary "food" out there), but it's an investigative work within historical context. And it rocks.

Personal Preface 1: So, I've not requested a Vine book for review in, pshaw, a couple years. But I saw THIS one and had to have it. Yes, I got it free. No, I don't hand out five stars just for the heck of it. If I hated it, it would get 1 star.

Personal Preface 2: Food and health issues are key to me these days. I read labels, and I read science reports, and I read nutrition blogs, and I have found I need to eschew many packaged foods. To lose 115 lbs, I pretty much stopped eating out of cans/boxes/fast food places, period. I cooked simple foods the old-fashioned way, adding my own salt and fat and minimizing sugars. I chose dine-out carefully (since restaurants oversalt, oversweeten, and pretty much do on a smaller basis what Food Giants do, just with fresher ingredients mostly). THE END OF OVEREATING by Kessler was the single-most eye-opening book for me in my quest to heal my food issues in a society where we've gone pretty insane with what we do to food.
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176 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bliss Point Will kill you February 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I thought this book was amazing! I consider myself to be a fairly healthy eater. I like fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from too much processed food. However, after reading this book I have even more of a commitment from staying away from any food that was developed in a laboratory. The author is not preachy. He is not advocating for a certain diet. I have been turned off by other authors such as Michael Pollan who seem to be pushing eating rules on people that are not practical. Instead, Moss has set himself the task of investigating how the processed food giants, including Kraft, Kellog's and others, have relied on the three pillars of Salt, Sugar and Fat to seduce people into eating the maximum amount of processed foods.
The author is the journalist who first cracked open the "pink slime" meat scandal and the depth of his investigative journalism is really impressive. It seems that he has spoken with scores of researchers, marketers and financial officers of the processed food companies in order to learn about things such as the invention of the Lunchable, as a way to sell more processed meats, and the growth of cheese from a food meant to be savored on its own into an ingredient that is shoved into a million different kinds of food.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in nutrition, or in the business of food. I would also recommend it to anyone who is looking for a push to close up the bag of chips or give up a soda habit.
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273 of 322 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Id like to buy the world a book February 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover
For decades, I have been referring to the title of this book as America's three basic food groups. Salt, sugar and fat are the most abundant additives in food, and their effects are cumulative - the more we eat them, the more we can eat them, and the more want to eat them, so the more we eat them. The result is pandemic obesity and its further unintended consequences - miserable chronic diseases in an age just when we thought we were overcoming them forever. This irony goes unexplored, but the book is packed with evidence of it.

The convenience of processed foods fits with our hurried society. It exacerbates the death of family meals, and encourages eating anywhere, anytime, and basically all day long. That by itself is enough to damn the industry, if traditional family values mean anything. Far more damaging than gay marriage, or abortion, or sexting, processed foods are destroying us, literally, physically. For hundreds of millions of Americans (and soon the world), this is normal. It is the way of life. There are no viable alternatives. This too, however, goes unexplored.

Moss divides the book into the three sections of its title. It contains the usual litany of incredible statistics - like how much of these ingredients the average American ingests annually, and how many billions of pounds the processors produce, but also some interesting developments on the way to perdition:

-Food processors call their customers users, like the drug addicts they want them to become.
-The "bliss point" is used by all of them to scientifically maximize the sugar effect along a bell curve. It allows food engineers to calculate how much sugar a child blisses out on compared to an adult, for example.
-Cereal makers spend twice as much on advertising as on ingredients.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended
a quick read, tho full of information. Moss does an exception job of revealing how the food conglomerates have changed our diets, and the even the makeup of the foods we eat,... Read more
Published 4 hours ago by bj hollenbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars eating with our own decision?
You can read Salt Sugar Fat as a good textbook of marketing strategy, as the author subtitles how the food giants hooked us. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Mikio Miyaki
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An excellent read.
Published 3 days ago by RhinoHeed
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Technical and a good insite
Published 4 days ago by Robin A. Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Processed food: another industrial complex
Dwight D Eisenhower coined the phrase with respect to the military. It seems perfectly fitting to the processed food industry.

Existential and dystopian in mood. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Larry P Kunz
5.0 out of 5 stars health book
A great book worth the read.
Published 7 days ago by rick duvall
5.0 out of 5 stars Omg
very eye opening book on the lengths the food companies will go to make a profit. we need to vote with our dollars and do whole simple foods again. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Maria Wilcox
4.0 out of 5 stars Manipulated!
Good reading. Scary how much consumers are manipulated by food manufacturers.
Published 8 days ago by Peggy
5.0 out of 5 stars Processed foods are scary. Don't think the government is protecting...
The inside story of how we are duped by big business. They are not at all concerned about health or obesity. Stay away from processed foods!
Published 9 days ago by Joycesheff
3.0 out of 5 stars Kinda dull
I'm a health nut and an avid reader. I struggled to finish this book, and honestly all the detailed descriptions of processed food just made me hungry. Read more
Published 17 days ago by B. Parsons
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