Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss was an enthralling read. From the history of food to the nutrition (or lack thereof) of processed foods, this book gives a fantastic insight into how food production has developed over the years and how it has impacted and influenced our society.
To put it bluntly, the three ingredients in the title have been used by food manufacturers to make their products as enticing as possible so consumers buy more. Of course, businesses are competing against each other for the limited shelf space within supermarkets and within pantries at home, but their primary goal remains to make money and this book shows how, repeatedly, food manufacturers have chosen profit maximization over consumer health. They don’t care if their products make you fat or if their brands lead to coronary heart disease or a plethora of other health symptoms. They only care that the public keeps buying more and more of their products so the money keeps flowing.
Now, this book isn’t actually about attacking food manufacturer’s and trying to hold them accountable. This book focuses on the history of food and how the food industry has changed over the past 50-60 years. It also brings to light how some of the practices that started off honest and practical have turned to excessive use and are large contributors to the health epidemics we see today (primarily obesity).
Soda used to be a rare and infrequent treat. As was ice cream and other foods that are now so readily available that people could have them every day or even at every meal. These products have also been loaded with salts, sugars, or fats, to make give them a competitive edge and make people essentially addicted to them so they continue to buy them every week or every day.
Things you wouldn’t think would have these ingredients may have more than half your daily recommended value in a single serving. This book does go into the daily recommended value (and the pitfalls of serving sizes) as well as government agencies and programs meant to combat the obesity epidemic and be advocates for consumer health, but it also reveals how little they have actually done (or rather how much influence the now mega-corporations have in legislature).
I could go on and on about the various topics this book covers, but I’d rather you read it yourself to better understand how, and perhaps why, the western diet has become riddled with timebombs that are contributing to major health issues for the majority of the public that consumes many processed foods. These issues in turn overburden health fields and lead to many premature deaths. We only get one body.
I have been reading several nutrition books the past several years and had already started to cut out processed foods, especially hyper-processed foods, but the more you know the better equipped you can be in making the best choices for you and your family.
Perhaps you’ve been struggling with your weight or a health issue without realizing how impactful your eating habits have on it. Or perhaps you do know but find it difficult to cut a habit such as eating a sweet dessert after dinner. Many of these foods are made to be addictive, so if you find yourself with such an addiction, it very well may not be your fault, but you may need some extra help to wean yourself off said addiction.
Whatever your area of interest, I think you’ll learn something from this book and hopefully it will be beneficial, or an initial step, to a healthier you. You only get one body, and your physical health impacts your mental health, so take care of yourself as best you can.