Ever since hearing Michael Moss on The Diane Rehm Show discussing how processed food took over the American diet, I’ve been itching to dive into his seemingly fascinating new book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. And after reading our D Moms healthy living contributor Holly Davis’ post about the book today, I’m definitely planning to add it to my “Wellness Library.”
Here’s Holly’s take.
By Holly Pellham Davis, Clean Fresh Living
The single most mind blowing piece of literature on health I have ever read comes from Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times, Michael Moss, in his just released book, Salt Sugar Fat.
While I have hypothesized, known for some time to some degree, and am not shocked by the findings, revelations, and insider trade secrets that Moss masterfully accounts in his book, it is, none the less, life changing information.
Reading this book was an emotional experience for me. I was struck with feelings of betrayal, disgust, disbelief…anger. Learning of the hypocrisy and greed of an entire industry at the expense of health in children and adults alike was sobering. It’s a slow death killing field out there, with corporations manipulating the public (and pharmaceutical companies waiting in the wings, eager to “save the day”) with “family friendly” images, falsely pretending to be worthy of consumers trust, while chemists are busy at work creating concoctions in laboratories that promise to get consumers addicted to their product by achieving a “ bliss point.”
Moss pierces the veil of secrecy, exposing a food and beverage industry that plots and plans ways to get our children craving their products at a young age in order to build brand loyalty. These companies make foods “craveable” with just the right balance of salt, sugar, and fat (the holy grail), which, in turn, causes the brain to respond like that of a cocaine addict, wanting more and more, all in the name of increasing profit.
While processed food corporations cited in the book like Kraft, Frito-Lay, and Coca-Cola increase profits, many of our loved ones are filling doctors offices, hospitals, and funeral homes due to health problems like obesity, diabetes, alzheimer’s (termed Type 3 Diabetes), and heart disease. Due to our dependence on diets high in salt, fat, and sugar, these diseases are at epidemic levels and continue to rise. After a failed attempt in 1999 to gather the super powers in the processed food and soda industry to address the alarming warning signs of a country in a health crisis, attention quickly shifted to creating foods that seemed to be a healthier choice, deepening the deceit.
Yes, I know everyone has free will and a choice of what they put in their mouth. But in my opinion, to knowingly create something with the intent to cause a human to become addicted, knowing that a product will do them harm, is no different than Phillip Morris making cigarettes and enticing kids to smoke.
So, why are the food and beverage companies so enamored with sugar, salt, and fat?
- Sugar: It’s a miracle ingredient. It extends shelf life, makes everything taste better, creates a chemical bliss feeling in the brain, and creates long-lasting cravings for more, addictive properties. Sugar is also sourced as starch (think potato chip) which converts to sugar and absorbed more rapidly than common sugar.
- Salt: It immediately tantalizes the taste buds (especially Kosher Salt which has a hollow molecular structure allowing it to react more powerfully with foods.) It extends shelf life, adds crunch, color, and creates a sense of “flavor burst.”
- Fat: It has twice the calories of sugar, but there is no “bliss point” for fat. When combined with sugars ‘s sweetness, our brain is tricked into wanting to eat more fat than we normally would if we consumed it on its own.
The attributes above merely scratch the surface. This video expands on some of the findings contained in Moss’ book. I have only briefly highlighted the surface here. You can also read an excerpt of the book on The New York Times website.
And, for those of you ready to dive in completely, I would highly recommend purchasing the book.
Knowledge is power…Knowledge also brings responsibility. Increase your knowledge. Use your power to chose foods made to fuel you, not fool you.
Holly Pellham Davis is the founder of Clean Fresh Living, Inc., a service focused on educating consumers and families on the importance of healthy, organic, sustainable living for life and generations to come. You can hear more from Holly on herClean Fresh Living blog, twitter, and Facebook.