I first heard of the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us when my friend Claire reviewed it earlier this summer, and thought it sounded like an interesting read. Last week I received a free copy of the book from the Bob’s Red Mill Hero of the Mill Club, and I breezed through the entire book over the weekend.
Along the lines of the title, Salt Sugar Fat is divided into three parts, each focused on one of the key ingredients in processed food. Each section contains the overarching message: processed foods are the leading cause of the United States’ obesity epidemic, and the multi-billion dollar processed foods industry is capitalizing on giving the American people what they want — convenient, addicting food.
As someone who is passionate about food and nutrition, the main theme of the book was nothing new or shocking to me. I know processed foods are bad for my health, they don’t taste that good to me, and I rarely eat them (I perhaps eat a processed food item an average of once per month).
But I did learn a lot while reading this book. For example, cigarette giant Philip Morris, who already destroyed the nation’s public health once, owns several of the largest processed foods conglomerates in the U.S., namely Kraft Foods, General Foods Corporation and Post Cereals. In many regards, the same marketing tactics that were used to hook people on cigarettes are used to hook people on processed foods, both with dire health consequences. Yet Kraft in particular has tried to make their foods healthier in recent past, but this has been met by much resistance by the consumers, Wall Street, and even the U.S. Government, which subsidizes some of the products that are poisoning its citizens.
Despite this dire situation, author Michael Moss argues, there is still hope. As he sums up in the epilogue to the book (page 346):
If nothing else, this book is intended as a wake-up call to the issues and tactics at play in the food industry, to the fact that we are not helpless in facing them down. We have choices, particularly when it comes to grocery shopping, and I saw this book, on its most basic level, as a tool for defending ourselves when we walk through those doors.
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us is an informative and important read for anyone looking to improve the health of themselves and their families.
It sounds like an interesting book! I try to cook only foods available at my local co-op (which has a lot of organic and locally grown produce), but it’s a challenge to avoid processed foods in our high stress, expensive world. It’s cheaper (in terms of money and time) to eat at McDonalds than it is to roast a chicken and serve a salad. We should be subsidizing healthful foods.
I completely agree regarding the need to subsidize healthful foods! Typically I try to cook an abundant amount of food once or twice a week, which saves me both time and money. But I am usually only cooking for one or two people, which makes it much easier than if I was cooking for an entire family.
like you, it didn’t blow me away. he’s no Michael Pollan. but it may serve as a “wake-up call” to some.