So I’ve considered myself to be better informed than the average consumer about not just what’s in processed foods but also about marketing principles in general. So I can’t say that much of what Michael Moss describes in his fascinating book Salt Sugar Fat surprised me, but it certainly did get my attention nonetheless. Just reading so many details about how food companies and their scientists have so carefully engineered their processed foods for optimal “crave-ability” and sell-ability still blew my mind.
Moss makes clear that he’s trying to show that it’s nearly impossible for the food companies to stop using such high amounts (and the most “addictive” combinations) of these three ingredients, for a variety of reasons. As the back cover says, “the industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar and fat.”
I’m not a vegetarian, a vegan, a raw-foodie, or any other kind of “specialty” eater or food-preparer. I do, however, make a lot of my family’s meals from scratch, which in this day and age does make me somewhat of an outlier, an exception to the rule. I don’t buy a lot of pre-packaged or pre-prepared foods. Therefore, I suppose that our family eats a lot less processed food than most of America. Unfortunately, just reading all the information in this book made me realize (not for the first time) that even the amount I do buy is far more than I would like. The food companies have perfected their ability to make “food” (I use that word loosely here) easy to buy and serve to our families, with convenience as the highest priority. But convenience has done a number on our health.
I’m not sure what the solution is. The reality is that many families have busy parents who both work (if there are two parents; those with single parents have even more challenges) and are just trying to get their children fed and cared for and out the door for their busy days. I know it’s a huge job shopping for healthier, less-processed foods, and then preparing them. But something’s gotta happen in our society to change this dynamic, because our health is paying the price. Our children’s health is paying the price.
Read this book. Think about it and figure out what you can do to get un-hooked. For a more detailed overview of the book, read my review on Rated Reads.
I’m a book reviewer, editor, and writer with four daughters and tons of projects always keeping me hopping. I blog at Life and Lims and run the book review site Rated Reads.