Food for Thought: Salt Sugar Fat

I recently joined the Denver Public Library, and have been borrowing cookbooks and nutrition books galore. While some haven’t held my attention (cookbooks need more photos!), one book in particular has kept me on edge for the past week while I sped through it. Starting my Food for Thought series back up is a quick glimpse into Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss.

FIFA World Cup 2010 Special Edition Coca Cola

FIFA World Cup 2010 Special Edition Coca Cola

Throughout this book, Michael helps us come to grips with the behind the scene action that happens in the grocery store. What grabbed me the most were the marketing strategies he outlined that I pretend we don’t fall for, from products like Lunchables and CapriSun- which I remember asking my mom for in elementary school (see video below). It hurt to hear that the current trend of low-fat yogurts actually contain more sugar than ice cream, and that 100-calorie packs were designed to draw consumers into the cookie and chips aisle to purchase more full fat goods. I am drawn to their products where they advertise fiber, protein, and calcium, yet who knows if I am just falling for another marketing scheme?

Some Shocking Food Industry Facts (from Michael Moss’ website)

- We consume 8,500 mg of salt per day, more than double the recommended maximum
- Concentrated fruit juices and stripped fruit and touted as “natural sweeteners” have the same health impact as high fructose corn syrup
- Cheese is the single largest source of saturated fat in the American diet
- Societal effects: the Pentagon complains that it can’t find enough healthy-weight recruits; maternal deaths have risen due to obesity-related problems during childbirth; health care and lost productivity costs are approaching $300 billion a year

Street Stall with Processed Foods in Hanoi, Vietnam

Street Stall with Processed Foods in Hanoi, Vietnam

I realized through reading this book that we cannot demonize these companies for making the products that we ask them to provide- Cheez-Its taste like cardboard without salt, our taste buds are somewhat dictating this push for more salt, sugar, and fat. While these companies should strive to provide lower calorie, fiber-full options, we have to continue to push for good food. When we can make whole foods and fresh produce more affordable and convenient, we will finally see the change in nutrition that we need- and it frustrates me that it revolves around money and market share.

To read an exerpt of the book visit his website here, or find it at your local library!

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.


  1. Emily says

    Marisa, Michael Moss is coming to Santa Barbara for a free lecture in a couple weeks! Sadly I’ll be out of town, otherwise I’d make you come visit and go with me. Great post though, these are important topics to think about!

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