Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat By Michael Moss. How the Food Giants Hooked Us.


April 26, 2013 by Living Girl Living Foods

I’ve had my share of ridiculous comments over the years from friends or people I meet where they claim I am hippy dippy, they can hear my granola crunch from the other coast and other jokes. But honestly, what is more punk rock then saying no to “the man,” no to foods that are purposely made to make us hooked, the levels of salt make it so you will eat that whole family sized bag to your face. Fritos and other chip companies know that they cruncher sounding their chip, the more you will eat, so the more salt, sugar, and fat goes in there to get that effect.

Instead consider how you want to invest your energy, money, and support to farmers. Living a full healthy life where we are not being jerked around like puppets.

These companies do not have our wellness in mind or keeping us nutritionally healthy. Their JOB is to drive consumption, to sell a product, to make it cheap, quick, fast so we keep buying and they keep making money.

We have been manipulated, used, abused, and completely suckered in for far too long.

Big processed foods companies have scientists, labs, research, surveys and so on who know how to get us hooked and keep us reeled in. Our world has become so revolved around being busy, too busy to make a meal, too busy to buy produce yet we aren’t seeing that to keep our lives action packed we need to eat plant based foods. Not these food like products, milk like products, ammonia filled meats and etc.

Choosing to be too busy for our wellness is in a sense stupid.

So may be your thinking Jess, girl, you are waving that freak flag way too high. Let me share with you a book that I recently finished reading where a journalist speaks to heads of these big shot companies, he interviews the scientists who know just how much of these addicting ingredients to put in our foods.


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“Salt, Sugar, Fat” by Michael Moss a Pulitzer Prize winner in explanatory reporting (2010) discusses how addicting these ingredients are. That’s right, addicting. Our brains react to these ingredients in processed foods like cocaine would let up the brain. Unlike how the average person would process this information, these scientists say that they have discovered the “bliss point” and have to make sure they are creating “crave-able” products. Salt, sugar, and fat create such an amazing mouth feel that they are only making items according to what we like. They are catering to our needs.

Speaking about food as an addiction may make some uncomfortable or feel as if this is an extreme claim. Yet, as mentioned in the book, in 2012 the American Journal of Clinical did research on two groups of babies. One group grew up eating salty processed foods like cereal and crackers. The second grew only had fresh baby foods made of solely vegetables and fruits. They noticed that all babies dislike salt. But once they got older they almost had to be convinced or forced to eat salty foods. Once they have the salty processed foods they are hooked. The first group of children who did not eat processed foods grew up craving plainer food. But these children who had processed foods were completely hooked and to the point where they were more likely to lick salt off of foods and eat plain salt.

Our babies and children are the most vulnerable to these food addictions. Salt, sugar, and fat helps mask other flavors, flavors that if we could taste them we wouldn’t want these foods at all.

Companies are eager to increase sales, companies are lacing once-wholesome foods such as yogurt and spaghetti sauce with astonishing amounts of sugar and sodium. According to Moss, Yoplait contains twice as much sugar per serving as Lucky Charms, and half a cup of Prego Traditional spaghetti sauce has as much sugar as three Oreos (not to mention one-third of the daily salt intake recommended for most Americans).

The major issue with salt is not exactly salt, but sodium. In processed foods, as mentioned in Moss’s findings, most Americans are getting 10-20 times the amount of salt our bodies need. Large amounts of sodium literally pulls fluids from the body’s tissues and into the blood stream, this is what raises the blood volume and forces the heart to pump more forcefully, the result is high blood pressure.

Moss’s book goes over findings where scientists have proven that exact ethnic groups are more prone to be addicted to certain processed salts, sugars, and fats compared to others. Every company uses this to their advantage. Especially with soda, African Americans have the tendency to like their foods and drinks to be more sweet. Companies like Coca-Cola keep this in mind and purposely make soda so sugary that we are hooked.

Fat creates a gooey, sticky mouthfeel that coats the tongue. According to Moss, “Two-thirds of the calories in cheese are delivered by the fat, which packs more than twice the energy of sugar.”

Fat is like an opiate to our brain, it slows things down in our mind which many of us “crave” when we feel depressed or lonely. Sugar moves everything at high-speed, gives us that kick or rush that we “need” because we are so busy.

When we see a bottle of milk and read “2%” we think we are making a healthier choice. In our minds we believe this means 98% of the fat is removed when actually the fat content of whole milk is only a tad higher, at 3%. This is another amazing finding that Moss shares in his book and I feel like I could keep going but honestly it’s better if you just read the book! Me spitting out information is not going to make a difference.

We get food hangovers from processed foods, which should really be called mock foods or science lab food. Processed foods has that wanting, craving just like drugs we want more so we do not have to feel the pain from detoxing. We do not have to feel what these foods are really doing to our bodies.

Michael Moss shares how the rise of obesity has reached epidemic levels. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer we all know someone now with these illnesses or health concerns. Yet as human beings our lives weren’t always like this. It is not up to the government, FDA, or these power pants companies to give us life, nutrition, food that gives us actual fuel. This is our role, we have the choice to overcome, detox, make homemade chips, yogurts or purchase items from local farmer’s.

Did you know….(all these facts mentioned and cited in Moss’s book)

Cheese Whiz, that bottle of cheese stuff has 27 ingredients and not a single one is cheese. Thus it should be called a cheese-like product!

Cheese is the fattest of all the fat-based products

One single slice of bologna has 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 330 milligrams of sodium and almost a quarter of ones daily recommended maximum for American adults

Any nutritional aspect of a packaged food is part of the brand managers job

Cancer Project found that three of THE worst-rated meals were all from the Lunchables line

The Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion is not even in the same building or near the Department of Agriculture. Their budget is only 0.0045 perfect of the agency’s overall outlays of $146 billion

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 required the FDA to set food labeling rules. It’s 2013! This hasn’t even been around for long!

Lean meat is a joke, it has 4.5 grams of saturated fat in a serving, nearly a third of the daily recommended maximum

Meat HAS been linked to cancer, and NO level is considered a safe level of consumption

Let’s stop being victims and take that power back.

Please check out Moss’s book and see for yourself. I personally do not believe in pushing people to go vegetarian, vegan or raw but to make changes that stick with them.

I am a teacher, not a criticizer. I am always learning myself, and that’s the beautiful adventure that is life ❤

If you can give up processed sugar, honestly that is a massive change. May be you gave up wheat and gluten, holy shiitake congrats because that is one of the hardest things to give up. Or possibly you gave up meat, that’s HUGE, everyone is going to question where you are getting your protein from when meat is actually animal fat, not animal protein. Gradual changes that feel good to you are what is most important, realize how addicted you are possibly to salty foods, processed sugar or fat. Just begin to notice what foods are trigger foods, find out how to make these packaged foods on your own at home.

One thought on “Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat By Michael Moss. How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

  1. […] hope this helps anyone who has been feeling confused about sugars. Friday I posted my review of Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss and had some friends who were very concerned with sugars. When […]

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