Beware: Salt, Sugar, Fat, Michael Moss’s book about processed foods in America, will turn a casual sashay down the juice aisle into a nightmare. Moss argues, and proves, that companies like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, and Capri Sun, prey on customers, intentionally addicting them to unhealthy food. Here are the 5 most surprising facts he reveals:
- The food industry calls its best customers “heavy users,” a term that conjures up junkies in search of a fix. Food companies pour marketing dollars into getting these heavy users so that they’ll buy even more—it’s a more effective strategy than trying to woo new customers.
- Moss can’t resist Cheez-Its. But when he tried a saltless version Kellogg created just for him, he said the crackers “chewed like cardboard, and had zero taste.” If the insanely high levels of salt, sugar, or fat were removed from our favorite foods, they’d taste bland or worse—“bitter, metallic, or astringent.”
- Food manufacturers stick with the 80% rule: food should be 80% familiar to consumers, or they will consider it too unusual to buy.
- Remember the tongue map you learned in elementary school, the one that says sweetness is detected at the tip of the tongue? It’s wrong. In reality, every one one of the mouth’s 10,000 taste buds detect sugar (all the way down to our esophagus, stomach, and pancreas, too) and activate our brains’ “pleasure zones.”
- Food technicians consider Cheetos one of the “most marvelously constructed foods on the planet in terms of pure pleasure.” The puff’s ability to melt in the mouth is called “vanishing calorie density,” meaning it melts so quickly that your brain thinks it has no calories, which makes you want to eat more.
Do you want to read this book, or are you scared it will ruin Cheez-Its for you?