Synopses & Reviews
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times
comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.
Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of fat-laden cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar, which is about twenty-two teaspoons a day. We ingest 3,400 milligrams of salt a year, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. does $1 trillion a year in sales, and that the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.
In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring case studies of some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century — including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestle, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more — Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous and often eye-opening research.
Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of a sugary beverage or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed — in a technique adapted from tobacco companies — to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products if serious regulation became a reality, as the industry itself couldn’t exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users” — as the companies call their most ardent customers — are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
“A shocking, galvanizing manifesto against the corporations manipulating nutrition to fatten their bottom line — one of the most important books of the year.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A mouth-watering, gut-wrenching look at the food we hate to love." Publishers Weekly
“What happens when one of the country’s great investigative reporters infiltrates the most disastrous cartel of modern times: a processed food industry that’s making a fortune by slowly poisoning an unwitting population? You get this terrific, powerfully written book, jammed with startling disclosures, jaw-dropping confessions and, importantly, the charting of a path to a better, healthier future. This book should be read by anyone who tears a shiny wrapper and opens wide. That’s all of us.” Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President
“In this meticulously researched book, Michael Moss tells the chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in this country. He understands a vital and terrifying truth: that we are not just eating fast food when we succumb to the siren song of sugar, fat, and salt. We are fundamentally changing our lives — and the world around us.” Alice Waters
“Salt Sugar Fat is a breathtaking feat of reporting. Michael Moss was able to get executives of the world’s largest food companies to admit that they have only one job — to maximize sales and profits — and to reveal how they deliberately entice customers by stuffing their products with salt, sugar, and fat. This is a truly important book, and anyone reading it will understand why food corporations cannot be trusted to value health over profits and why we all need to recognize and resist food marketing every time we grocery shop or vote.” Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and What to Eat
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the troubling story of the rise of the processed food industry and its use of three simple, inexpensive ingredients — salt, sugar, and fat — to addict a nation.
About the Author
Michael Moss was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 1999 and 2006. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to The New York Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.