How do I even begin? This book is huge. Not physically huge, just a huge deal for your life. You need to read it. I could end with that, but you’ll probably want me to explain why. Fine...
Salt, Sugar, Fat is mind-blowing. Coming from me, that’s saying something. I read a lot of books about food and I try to avoid processed foods like the plague. We all know this stuff is bad for us, but we eat it anyway because it also tastes good. This isn’t an accident. Obviously food companies want their foods to taste good, but the extent to which they use salt, sugar, and fat to trick our bodies into eating more and more of it is criminal. They manipulate the ingredients, knowing it will cause people to overconsume. Any ideas of trying to manufacture healthier foods are immediately shot down by wall street and industry executives.
Each section of this book sucked me in even further and elicited even more shock. In fact, they are presented in the order that would create more shock as you go. We all know the dangers of sugar, though not a great deal about the science, so Moss starts with it. It’s no surprise that fat is not great for us. What I didn’t know is that putting fat in a food can raise your tolerance for sugar, which will allow you to eat a lot more before your body tells you to cut it out, if it ever does. He ends with salt. We know too much salt is bad. We know it leads to high blood pressure. But we have it under control. We’ve made an effort to keep our hands off the salt shaker during meals. Except, that doesn’t even matter. Processed food is teeming with added salts and our tolerance for salt is so high, that we don’t even notice how much we’re consuming. The most shocking part of the salt story is what happens to children raised with and without heavy loads of salt in their diet. Children raised with high salt diets, crave it in unprecedented amounts. Children raised with little salt, turn their noses up at salty foods. We’ve been raised to crave foods that are bad for us, and in the case of salt, we’ve done it to ourselves.
Moss did years of research and interviews for this book. It is not a science book, so any science in it is immediately easy to understand. He’s a great journalist who understands his readers. The book is made up of stories and anecdotes about the food industry, so that by showing us the smaller, more personal picture, Moss can give his readers the much bigger one. He shows us that the issue is not black and white. The food industry is making us sick and they are well aware of it, however, they can not stop themselves. Their customers are hooked on the food and now they will not settle for anything healthier. In a way, the only way out of this situation is government regulation. I’m not a huge fan of regulation, but prefer education. However, in the case of our health, perhaps the slower moving education road, will not be enough. We may have reached a point where the food giants can’t stop and education alone is not enough to have us stop ourselves.
After everything I’ve learned, reading this book still kind of made me want an Oreo Cookie.
Well, more like a Newman’s O.