How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

After reading this article about the science of making food addictive in the New York Times, I knew I would need to read Michael Moss' whole book about the subject. The author describes how the three titular ingredients are combined, along with a bunch of nasty preservatives, in a variety of ways into convenience and snack foods in order to make consumers want more. Food researchers have discovered how these ingredients activate the pleasure centers of our brains, and study how much of each of these ingredients we can stand - the bliss point. And, as it turns out, there is no bliss point for fat! There is no limit to how much fat food manufacturers will add to prepared foods, because consumers will just keep feeling better and better about eating them. In fact, I was very surprised to read that  some prepared food producers were actually advocating government regulation on added fat in order to level the playing field. Right now Kraft, Nestle, Pepsico, et al appear to be in some sort of arms race to get the biggest snack food share, by having the foods that will make their consumers the happiest through fat. It was not surprising to learn that the rise in consumption of convenience food is correlated with the busyness of the lives of baby boomers, who will often skip breakfast in order to get to work for an early meeting, or just have a quick bite at their desk, then rushing home to take their children to sports practice or other extra curricular activities. The more people skip meals, the more they will snack.

There were a lot of things that made me cringe while reading this. Especially the description of how Lunchables were invented, and then marketed directly to kids. While I will admit to always keeping chicken nuggets and boxed macaroni & cheese on hand when my daughter was little, I take some pride in the fact that I never fed my daughter one of those yucky things. She even asked once when she might be able to have one, after all, her friends at school brought them all the time. "Never" was my simple answer.

This book will definitely make readers reconsider they way they think about food, even for those who have already done so!

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