The unholy trinity: more Salt Sugar Fat

16 Foods I Like

Photo by pinkhippodesign via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Michael Moss made a lot of waves in the press last week with “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food,” his cover story in the February 24 edition of The New York Times Magazine, along with his just-released book (from which the NYT piece came) called Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

I wrote about them when the Times article was released online, but that preceded most of the media coverage. Since this is the kind of book that really can’t be over-promoted, I thought I’d devote another post to it.

For conversations with Moss about his reporting, check out

  • Dave Davies’ interview of him on NPR’s Fresh Air (Davies: “… there’s a point at which if you keep adding sugar beyond that, it doesn’t work as well …” Moss: “Yeah, you think about in your own life, you’re making Kool-Aid, and you’re adding sugar to it, and there’s a point where you go yuck, I mean I can’t eat anymore, it’s like too sweet. That applies to sugar. We can talk about fat, where by contrast there’s almost no bliss point for fat; if there is, it would be up the realm of, you know, beyond heavy cream, which in some ways makes fat an even more powerful ingredient for the food companies.”)
  • his appearance on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman (Moss: “The book … was a bit of a detective story. I managed to come across a trove of internal documents that enabled me to get insiders to talk. And when they did, what it showed was that salt, sugar, fat are the three pillars, the Holy Grail, if you will, on which the food industry survives. And through their research, they know that when they hit the perfect amounts of each of those ingredients, they’ll send us over the moon, products will fly off the shelves, we’ll eat more, we’ll buy more—and being companies, of course, that they will make more money.”)
  • his print interview with Tralee Pearce of The Globe and Mail (Pearce: “Are you a nightmare to shop with?” Moss: “… I have two boys 8 and 13, but actually no, we’ve worked hard to engage them. My wife sort of arbitrarily set a limit of 5 g of sugar per serving of cereal. And they’re into it. They hunt for the fine print.”)

Tom Philpott at Mother Jones also offers up “9 Surprising Facts About Junk Food” based on Moss’s work, including this one: “You know how people will sometimes call food they like a lot “crack”? … Turns out, in the case of sugary foods, it’s more than just a metaphor.”

Lastly, if you haven’t read the magazine piece yet, I highly recommend it—you can find it here.


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