A revelatory look at America's increasing consumption of unhealthy products and at how the biggest food manufacturers ignore health risks, and employ savvy advertising campaigns, to keep us hooked on the ingredients that ensure big profit.
In an era where morbid numbers of people are living with diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, New York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Moss (Palace Coup, 1989) discovers through ardent research—much of it interviews with current and former executives of Kraft, PepsiCo and other massive conglomerates—that there is shockingly little regulation of the processes behind the design and sale of foods purposely laden with dangerous levels of salt, sugar and fat. As the average American works longer hours and spends more time outside of the home, the demand for easy-to-cook and tasty meals has skyrocketed. In response, food giants provide an enormous slate of processed food options, almost all of which require immense amounts of salt, fat and/or sugar to cover the taste of poor-quality ingredients. Pulling no punches, the author points out that the recent trend of "healthy" items is no loss for these food manufacturers, who capitalize on creating new lines of spinoff products labeled "low-salt" or "sugar-free," when in fact those products require a significant increase in one of the other triad of flavors to remain palatable. Many products are laden with these ingredients in ways that would surprise the consumer: A single cookie, for example, might require several servings' worth of undetectable salt to retain its irresistible crunch, while it also contains up to five teaspoons of sugar. Moss breaks down the chemical science behind the molecular appeal of these foods, as well as behind the advertising strategies that are so successful in getting consumers to buy not only the "healthier" versions of popular foods, but the originals, as well. If this trend is to be reversed, he argues, it might take a social revolution of empowered consumers, a goal within reach if accurate information is available and pressure is put on these companies to dramatically alter the contents of its processed foods.
A shocking, galvanizing manifesto against the corporations manipulating nutrition to fatten their bottom line—one of the most important books of the year.