What I’m reading: Salt Sugar Fat

Hold on to your barf bags, folks. This book will make you sick. And then mad. Mad enough to get even, or at least take a stand, and get healthier in the process.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss was named one of the best books of the year (2013), and for very good reason. This is a stunning tome on the processed food industry. Thorough and well researched. Shocking and compelling.

I thought I was pretty well-informed cynical about the dark side of processed food, but this book shocked me. Did you know that several decades ago the processed food industry began pushing cheese to off-load all the fat leftover when low and nonfat milk became the norm? Pretty soon cheese, or more precisely, “cheese food products” – which should give you a clue right there – began turning up everywhere. A prime example: cheese-bomb style pizzas that seem to be the norm at fast food pizza chains these days. As gross as they look, they are even more of a turn-off now that I know they weren’t the invention of some high clever cheese maniac. That, I could take. But the dairy industry’s effort to foist on us the fat we refused in our milk? I don’t think so.

         lunchables label

Lunchables Turkey and cheese sandwich “ingredients” list reads like a science experiment

The level of manipulation of processed foods, on a molecular level even, is appalling. I was left with the impression that the research and tinkering that went into creating Lunchables could rival that behind any pharmaceutical your doctor might prescribe. I can’t help but think of the diseases that could be cured if all that brain power from food scientists were channeled towards health rather than poison for profit.

I vow to further limit my family’s consumption of processed foods. Maybe if we all did, we could create a demand-side change, and free up some of those scientists to work on eliminating childhood cancer. (Oh wait, there might not be as much cancer if our food supply weren’t filled with garbage. Well then, in that case, they could work on diabetes. Oops, there’d be less of that, too. Okay, fine, they could focus on thinning hair and baldness.)

Rant aside, this is a great (albeit long) book.  It’s a worthwhile read for anyone who cares about our national food supply.  And if you’re looking for extra motivation to clean up your diet, this book will deliver faster than Domino’s.

This is one of several books I’ve read so far this year.  Here’s the complete list.  What are you reading? Anything that gets you fired up?

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