Salt, Sugar, Fat: 15 Shocking Facts From the Book and Our Review

Monday Aug 5 | BY |
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salt-sugar-fat-moss

I recently read a book called “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us“, by Michael Moss. This is the first book that really tells the story of how food companies influenced the eating habits of an entire nation — an entire planet. This book has a much bigger scope than “Fast Food Nation” because it not only talks about convenience fast food, but the entire processed food industry.

It’s a gripping tale of greed, manipulation, business wars and marketing, but also one that shows that there is not just one villain in this story, but that each and everyone of us has a part of responsibility in the degradation of our eating habits, resulting in an obesity and health crisis of epic proportions.

I have decided to summarize some of the most shocking facts from the book, for those of you who don’t have the time or patience to read it.

The Secret Meeting

The book starts off with exposing an unprecedented secret meeting that took place in April of 1999, which brought together all of the major players in the food industry.

Previously, those leaders never got together because their primary job was to fiercely compete against one another. But this night, in Minneapolis, the CEOs of all the major companies agreed to this secret meeting to discuss a growing problem: obesity.

The government was starting to talk about sugar taxes, and after seeing what happened to the Tobacco industry, with lawsuit upon lawsuit making the makers of cigarettes partly financially responsible for the health crisis they had created by pushing their products onto the masses, the food companies got nervous. The most thoughtful CEOs knew very well that they had a part to play in what was just at the time a growing obesity trend, and that one day they could very well be held responsible.

Some of the presenters tried to convey the gravity of the situation. One quarter of the population was considered obese. Growing social costs. A list of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer — all on the rise. And then the role of the food companies in this crisis.

This was an unprecedented opportunity for the leaders of the field to change many things for the good. And many leaders, in fact, wanted something positive to come out of that meeting.

In the end, nothing was accomplished. People were buying products that contained the most salt, sugar and fat — and if one company created a tasty formula (albeit an unhealthy one), other companies had no choice but to respond with a similar offering of their own.

That’s how the Oreo cooking was branched out into parallel product lines such as the Banana Split Creme Oreo or the Triple Double Oreo. In the end, whoever made the tastiest food for the consumer won more marketshare, and the pressure was too high for this game to stop.

The Making of a Soda: the Bliss Point

The “bliss point” is a concept that food companies use when deciding how much sugar (or salt, fat) to put into their products. Take lemonade, for example. You start with lemon and water, and add sugar. There’s a point where the sugar content is not enough to compensate for the acidity of the lemons. At some point, you keep adding sugar and it becomes just “perfect.” This is the bliss point. Add more sugar, and eventually the beverage becomes unpalatable.

Making a new soda relies on intricate math charts and tests with consumer over hundreds of variations of a similar product to find this bliss point. This is a precise, indisputable point that will send consumers over the moon.

Complex Science

To create a tasty product, food manufacturers not only rely on salt, sugar and fat. The actual physical shape and structures of those components are altered using complex science to create the desired effects.

Chocolate bars will have a particular distribution and shape of fat globules to affect their absorption rate. This creates the perfect “mouthfeel.”

The physical structure of salt is altered. In some potato chips, the salt crystals are so fine that they instantly get absorbed and recognized by the taste buds, creating an intense “flavor burst” that consumers love.

Sugar and fructose are crystallized into an additive, to amplify their effect.

In other words: they’ve managed to crack the code of how humans react to tastes and textures to create the tastiest, calorie-rich, and most “palatable” foods on the planet — at a low cost.

The goal of food manufacturers is not to make people fat. Their goal is to create products that sell. They would love to be able to make their food healthier, but ultimately, this can never come at the expense of taste. That’s why when one ingredient is lowered (like fat), another is inevitably increased (sugar, for example).

Cheese, Cheese, and More Cheese

Americans consume a lot of cheese. In fact, cheese consumption in America now reaches 33 pounds of cheese per year, per person, on average! That’s compared to 11 pounds a year in 1970.

Cheese has found its way in places where it shouldn’t be: inside the crusts of pizza, melted over every possible food, and inside many processed foods.

Is it that Americans REALLY love cheese or is there something else going on to justify this insane cheese craze?

What happened is mind-boggling. In the 70s and 80s, people became health conscious and started moving from whole milk to skim milk, in order to cut down on the amount of saturated fat they consumed. That’s why skim milk products (milk, yogurt, etc.) rule in America. But when milk producers remove the fat of milk, that fat still exists and is not considered waste.

With the help of the government, and enough science to create cheese in less than a day instead of fermenting it for weeks, all that milk fat surplus was turned into cheese. And again, through the help of the government, that cheese was pushed onto the masses.

This is why now the single largest source of saturated fat in the American diet is cheese. This is strange when you consider that most of those cheese eaters would never touch a glass of whole milk. The fat from milk was simply transferred back to their plate insidiously.

The Story of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and the Sweet American Breakfast

In the late 1800s, America was battling a different health crisis: dyspepsia. This term essentially meant a constant indigestion. It was caused by the American breakfast of the time, which included sausages, beefsteaks, bacon, fried ham — and exasperated by the salt pork and whiskey that was consumed later in the day.

John Harvey Kellogg was one of the original Natural Hygienist who would influence a movement that would eventually lead to today’s raw vegan movement. But at the time, he was just a medical student who was very concerned about this health crisis. He decided to start a health retreat, called “sanitarium” in those days to heal his dyspeptic patients through a strict diet composed of oatmeal, graham rolls, and caffeine-free tea. His regimen avoided salt and sugar like the plague.

In 1894, after meeting a patient who had invented a cereal made from shredded wheat, Kellogg decided to create a breakfast out of it. The flaked cereal was very popular with his guests, partly because of the texture.

John had a younger brother, who worked as a bookkeeper for the sanitarium, named Will. Will was much more interested in making money, and decided to take over the cereal operation. In 1896, they sold almost 120,000 pounds of the unsweetened version of the cereal, which was quite a feat. Will and John then experimented with using corn instead of wheat for the cereal. The cereal was called the Sanitas Toasted Corn Flakes.

In 1906, Will betrayed John while the latter was in Europe. He added sugar to the corn flake mix, which everyone really liked. When John came back, he was furious. This betrayed the very nature of his health quest. So Will struck out on his own, selling humongous quantities of the new “Kellogg’s Toasted Corn Flakes.” The brothers fought in court, and Will won. In 1922, the company became known as “Kellogg.”

And that’s how the sweet American breakfast was born.

Why Coca Cola Tastes So Good

Others have tried to imitate it. But Coca-Cola is still the king of sodas. Pepsi wins in blind tests because it is sweeter, but over-time, the sugar in Pepsi gets tiresome. Coke has the winning formula that sold billions and billions.

What makes Coke so perfect?

The aromas come from vanilla, citrus, and brown spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. The level of sweetness has been adjusted to the perfect “bliss point.”

And the bite of phosphoric acid — the bubbles — have been perfected to provide the optimal “tingle.”

But probably, the biggest asset of Coca-Cola is its brand. It’s a timeless brand, a pure American invention, that resonates throughout the ages. A powerful brand like this doesn’t come that often.

That’s why the CEOs running Coca-Cola have always had a great power, and a great responsibility coming with it.

How One Coke Executive Turned Carrots Into the New Junk Food

Jeffrey Dunn was one of the most controversial that Coca-Cola ever had. He was one of the most powerful ones too, helping the company make huge progress and fight off his rivals during the 80s and 90s.

But one day, he read a book called “Sugar Busters!” that changed everything for him. At the same time, he started dating a free-spirit hippie who consumed no sugar and was very anti-junk food.

Dunn was caught in a moral dilemma. He was marrying a woman who despised the company he worked for, he was reading a book that condemned sugar, and at the same time he was running to become president of the company called Coca-Cola.

After a trip to Brazil, where Coke was trying to push its products into the poor barrios, a voice in his head said “These people need a lot of things, but they don’t need a Coke.”

He didn’t want to abandon the business, but he was caught in a real dilemma. He wanted to help the company make healthier products. He was the one who developed Dasani, Coke’s bottled water division. He pushed to stop the marketing of Coke in public schools. Eventually, he was fired in 2004.

For the next redeeming part of his career, he pitched to a group of invested the next healthy fast food: baby carrots. Singlehandedly, he managed to get a “junk food” that was healthy in the hands of millions of consumers.

The Bliss Point of Fat

Food manufacturers had known for a long time that the bliss point of sugar was fixed: it was a specific point of pleasure, and a strict limit at the same time for the sugar content of any food. But for fat, it seems there was no “break point.” No matter how rich the food was, people never got the signal that there was simply “too much fat.” The body just wants more and more fat. One researcher said “if there was a break point, it was somewhere beyond heavy cream.”

It’s not the Sugar, It’s the Fat

In most unhealthy concoctions like chocolate bars, most of the calories of the junk food come from fat. Sugar is pointed out as the villain, but in reality, fat is where the excess calories are. A drink or a product can be very high in fat and most people will not be aware of it.

Nutrition Vs. Big Government

The USDA (Us Department of Agriculture) gets a total budget of 146 billion dollars. Inside the USDA, the department responsible for informing the American public about good nutrition gets a budget of $6.5 million. This is 0.0045 percent of the total budget of the agency. The problem is that the USDA guidelines most often clash with their nutrition department. On the one hand, the Center for Nutrition Policy recommends to eat less saturated fat, and technically, less cheese. On the other hand, the USDA is pushing for increased cheese and meat consumption, mainly for economical reasons.

The Truth Behind Pink Slime

“Lean finely textured” is the technical name for what some journalists called “pink slime,” a meat product that is made by taking the fattiest pieces of meat (up to 70% fat) — parts that were previously used in pet food. The meat is put through a giant centrifuge (imagine a giant juicer) to spin the fat off. The resulting mash is very lean (about 10% fat). This meat is or was used by many fast food manufacturers, being the cheapest lean meat available for hamburgers.

Why the “pink slime” name? The product is treated with ammonia gas to kill pathogens. The ammonia gives the pink color, and sometimes leaves a powerful smell.

McDonald’s stopped using pink slime in 2011, but the product is still a part of many processed meat products today.

Are You Afraid of the Cookie Aisle?

In 2002, cookie sales were falling. People were actually avoiding the entire cookie aisle, being afraid to lose control, buy those forbidden products and then binge at home. Kraft then reformulated the Oreo cookie to contain only 100 calories per serving package. Sales took off.

But here’s the weird thing… when Kraft did their magic with the Oreo, sales of other full-fat products also went up at the same time.

The reasoning? People who avoided the cookie aisle now felt reassured that at least some “guilt-free” products were to be found there. They tried the 100-calorie cookies, and then lost control and ended up buying the regular versions again.

Whenever a food company wants to increase sales of ALL their products, they use this simple trick: they create healthier variations of their biggest selling items. Then that product will sell a bit, but mysteriously it will increase sales of their entire related product line.

Why Food Manufactures Can’t Reduce Sodium

Nutritionists hate high-sodium foods. Even the mayor of New York City wants you to eat less salt. But how come the industry hasn’t been able to significantly reduce the salt-content of their foods?

Salt is as essential to the food industry as water. First, it fixes a lot of the problems that occur because foods are processed. Cornflakes lose their metallic taste with salt. Crackers without salt are bitter, soggy, and stick to the roof of the mouth. In bread making, salt keeps the machinery from gumming up. Salt makes food last longer on the shelves.

Salt covers up nasty tastes, especially of meat, that would otherwise remind you of damp dog hair.

Salt is the great antidote to all of these problems, and more. And salt is as cheap as water.

The industry could use less salt if they started using fresh spices, like rosemary, which have antioxidants abilities. But consumers want CHEAP food, and fresh spices are costly. So salt comes to the rescue.

And let’s face it: people love salt. Without salt, manufactured bread tastes like tin, and doesn’t even look puffy. It’s riddled with big air pockets and has a rough texture. If food manufacturers put out salt-free versions of their foods, nobody would buy them. And maybe that would be a good thing, but we all know that it’s not going to happen.

The Real Food Giant You Never Heard About

The biggest company you never heard about is called Cargill. It’s a $134 billion giant, and you can’t buy shares of it because the company is 100% private. One of Cargill’s main products is salt — but no ordinary salt. They sell over forty kinds of salts, reshaped in hundreds of ways, to match the exact needs of the industry.

Even the highest-tech salts sold by Cargill only cost ten cents per pound, and that is why it’s often said that salts costs less to food manufacturers than water.

My favorite discovery: popcorn makers use a special Cargill’s salt that is flaked and shaped to cling to every nook and cranny of the popped grain, to send instant jolt of pleasures to the consumer. No wonder we can’t stop eating popcorn at the theater when we start.

Potassium Chloride

Potassium chloride feels and looks a lot like salt, and in fact has similar functions to salt as far as the food industry is concerned. But it’s not packed with sodium. The industry could use it to replace a lot of its needs for salt, but the trick is that it costs more. So again, the high demand for cheap food is driving the choices that the manufacturers are making. Is it time that we realize that “healthy” and “cheap” can’t be synonymous?

Conclusion

Those were just a selection of interesting and shocking facts from Salt, Sugar, Fat.

In the end, the author doesn’t have much to recommend to change the situation than some generic advice. It’s a big battle that won’t be easily won. So the question of the day is:

Who do you think is truly responsible for the obesity “epidemic” and what’s the best way to solve it?

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

44 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Laurie says:

    So true, so true. I learned about fat early on and started reducing fat intake 40 years ago, but weight only came off temporarily. That’s because I was still eating too much sugar & salt and not enough fiber…..Next I added the fiber, around 25 years ago. I was still having weight problems. Next I stopped the sugar, a little over 10 years ago (xylitol became my replacement–great for the teeth and some other things too). It still didn’t quite solve the weight problem, but I was still a lot lower than I used to be. However, it sure DID clear up my horrible gingivitis (gum problems) that I had had (at that point) for over 30 years!

    The final tipping point for me was when I cut meat out of my diet and started adding back cooked foods and beans in particular (I had been 80% raw for several years)…just a couple of years ago, while simultaneously cutting back sodium intake. The weight fell off reasonably quickly–AND, I am quite certain, permanently, because my addictions now are to things that are good for me. Eat a healthy diet for 2 weeks and you will automatically overcome the addictions and form new healthy ones! I look and feel better than I have for most of my adult life. So personally I would add Meat to the list of Fat, Sugar and Salt (I still eat a bit of seafood and cheese, but mostly when I’m eating out for a special treat). Of course meat and fat go quite hand in hand.

    If this article helps a few people on their path, I’ll be thrilled!~

  2. There is a review of this book by the folks at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s journal, WISE TRADITIONS, summer. The WAPF folks have the scientific credentials to vet this book. Moss is right about sugar and does a good job with research. He does not have either salt or fat right, however. There is no science behind either position, and the WAPF walks readers through what is wrong with his very selective, biased research. I do hope you will read their review of this book–which also covers two other important books that debunk the food industry at the moment.

  3. Paul says:

    Who do you think is truly responsible for the obesity “epidemic” and what’s the best way to solve it?

    The uneducated consumer is responsible…if no one bought it they’d stop selling it because no sales means no profits and that’s all that interests these manufacturers!

    • Benita says:

      I agree with Paul. Many people in this country are guilty of mindless eating. At the same time they avoid any type of exercise like the plague, and practice all sorts of unhealthy habits. It’s no wonder we have an obesity and health crisis on our hands.

    • No. It is the FDA because they actively promoted it by accepting sweeteners and taste enhancer E602 and they have lied about fats so people can now buy refined oils and hardened fats which didn’t exist in the past.

    • Amila says:

      I agree with you Paul, the consumer needs to educate themselves, stop being so ignorant and decide with their free will what they want to consume.

    • Monika says:

      You are so right, Paul. It is the consumer that calls the shots.
      The only problem is that most people are not knowledgeable enough to make these decisions and many have no interest spending time to learn how to live healthy and give your body the right nutrition instead of overfeeding it with junk. To cook from scratch with organic veggies, herbs and fruit, eggs and legumes is much more time consuming than just throwing a pre-cooked meal into the nuke box.
      We are living in the age of enlightenment (20 years ago only few people were aware) and more and more people are listening up to all the information we have available today. So there is still hope!

  4. Sarah says:

    Very interesting article. Although I don’t eat processed junk food (save for some Whole Food brands on special occasions) these pieces of information are well worth knowing.

    I am going to recommend this article to several people! The book sounds quite educational, too.

  5. Good Fat is the only place you can get access to the fat soluble vitamins. Good fats are meat fats from healthy animals, eggs, avocado, olive, coco oil that hasn’t been heated. The anti-fat campaign of the 70s never had any science behind it and was market driven. Meat has every single essential amino acid that a human being needs–and in the proportions that the body can use and that does not begin to throw off its finely tuned ability to process what you eat. Raw food diets cause teeth damage. Too much sugar and acid–and the wrong nutrient packages. Our stomachs are not like gorillas or cows–so we do not have the enzymes or ability to process a lot of cellulose. Again, the Weston A. Price Foundation has a great web site from people whose only goal is to educate people about what they put into their bodies–they are backed by good science and they have the scientific credentials to vet food studies.

    • You are right. I saw a film with a lady speaking about the food of the past and now and cooking in the 19th century. They have lied to us about fat. Animal fat is healthy and so is organic oils and butter. What is dangerous to eat is fish oil, hardened fats such as margarine and ready made cookies with hardened fats. Of course light milk products are also no good.
      I use very little milk and only whole organic. One Professor Brian Peskin has written a book about fish oil and omega 3 oils and my Chinese acupuncturist says the same as he does and he has experience from his family since minimum 600 years of knowledge. Fish oil cause inflammation in the stomach and brain damages if eaten much. And it worsens inflammation which is already there. One should use flax seed or hemp oil instead, 1 tsp a day of this is enough. They eat a lot of fish oil in Iceland and many there are sick from Rheumatism.
      I think the FDA is responsible for the obesity crisis, and particularly those persons in there who pushed to get through a release of taste enhancer E 602, and chemical sweeteners or how you say it in English. They meant it was not harmful and could be used for consumption.

  6. alice says:

    Baby carrots are bleached or somehow “preserved” so they stay looking PRETTY. They are not good for you.
    Just another junk food…… ; ~ P

  7. Alice says:

    When I quit eating sugar my migraines went away. Haven’t had one in several years. When I quit eating gluten I lost 2 dress sizes and kept the weight off. I was having lots of joint pain and over time quit eating meat, poultry and fish and my joint pain went away, slowly. You have to take your health into your own hands…no one cares for your body as much as you do!! Learn all you can and act on it. You can do it.

  8. BUY A MAGIC BULLET AND START MAKING RAW FOOD SHAKES. WITH A LITTLE STEVIA POWDER, ANY COMBINATION TASTES TERRIFIC. I MADE A VEGETABLE AND NUT SHAKE FOR BREAKFAST AND A FRUIT SHAKE FOR LUNCH. MY HUSBAND WAS AMAZED AND SAID ONE COULD LIVE ON THESE THINGS.

    THANK YOU RENEGADE HEALTH, FOR THIS SUMMARY, AND ALSO FOR ALL THE ENCOURAGEMENT TOWARDS RAW FOOD, SHAKE RECIPES, AND OTHER ADVICE.

  9. Janet says:

    Frederic,
    Thank you for your info! Very interesting! Janet

  10. nomi says:

    Ultimately, I agree with #3, Paul. Blind trust that ‘they’ will take care of us.
    This is a very old attitude–and in today’s fast paced world it has become more and more
    difficult to take on the responsibility/attention required to self educate re: what is the best way to eat.
    As well, unfortunately THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER. No one-size fits all. And so, busy busy people
    striving to support themselves and their family find it a very daunting task indeed to add more to their
    already over-crowded schedule.
    The factory farm- the end of the home garden and from scratch made food, the fact that families often
    no longer have an at home caretaker…cattle as ‘product’, food as product..governments and private business
    that care only about money.
    Science rules! Today they showed test tube made meat on the Today Show.
    We who care so passionately about how we eat, for ourselves and for those of us who teach, for others
    are swimming against the tide. How will it end? I do not like to think about this it is very ugly.

  11. These products are definitely a cause of obesity because of the addictive qualities. You can also add artificial sweeteners to the list. As a diabetic, I was all excited about artificial sweeteners as a solution to the dangers of sugar. Only to find out that obesity was more of a danger and I strongly believe that artificial sweeteners contribute to this. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t loosing weight until I decided to cut back on the artificially sweetened drinks especially diet sodas. To my surprise, I didn’t seem to crave as much food or snacks. I really believe that artificial sweeteners increased my appetite. I also reduced my salt intake which improved my blood pressure. I am now using Himalayan Pink Salt and I hardly use much. I believe that as a diabetic I can eat a little sugar – organic, raw, or other sweeteners like Stevia or Agave. They don’t require a lot because they are sweeter tasting. I have lost more weight just by changing the food I put in my mouth (not by dieting) and exercise.

    If all this sugar, salt, etc. were reduced or changed in foods that are popular with children we may be able to stem the obesity problem in children. With diabetes type 2 diagnosed in children now, we really must do something fast.

  12. Jeff Bell says:

    This whole subject is complex enough so that a brief review like this is bound to include some omissions, and in this case a few important inaccuracies. I have not read the book that this review summarizes so I have no idea if the book also contains and promotes these inaccuracies. I’ll point out a couple of the more important points that are missed here:

    1. There is NOTHING wrong with eating as much good fat as you want. Fat has the highest satiety factor of any food you can eat. In other words, you will stop being hungry for it as soon as your body has had enough. And there is no evidence, at least none that is supported by good science, that supports the idea that fat is inherently bad for you. Quite the contrary. When I see clients who do not have sufficient fats in their diets, I always find chronic health problems that are usually cleared up when the missing fats are added back into their diets. However I must emphasize that the fats MUST be good quality. For example, organic coconut oil, organic butter, and things like that. Organic, olive oil also is healthy, as long as it is not heated above the boiling point of water. (The coconut oil and the butter can be heated.) Fats from meat and fish are fine, as well, as long as the meat or fish is properly raised or in the case of fish, wild-caught or even properly farmed. (There are only a few fish farms in the world that do it right. Most do not.)

    2. There is nothing wrong with eating all the salt that you want, as long as it is natural, whole salt. Himalayan sea salt is an example of good salt. In the 35 years I have been doing this work I have not seen a single instance of someone damaging their health from eating as much of the good, natural salt as they want. Again, the body loses its desire for it when enough has been consumed. Eat processed salt, however, and it is a whole other story. That stuff is deadly!

    3. I have seen no evidence that people who eat a vegan diet or an all raw diet are more healthy than those who do not. Again, it is the quality of the food that seems to really make a difference.

    4. In terms of food choices, I have seen evidence, both clinical and scientific, that almost all grains are bad for most people, if not all. The few grains that seem to be healthy for most people, (still to be eaten in moderation), include: brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat (which has NOTHING to do with wheat at all), and millet. All of these should be organic, and none should be eaten in really large quantities.

    Those are just a few of the important points that pertain to the above article that have come from my 35 years of research and practice.

    And for those who want to watch a really good film about how the food giants have conspired to sacrifice our health on their alter of massive greed and profits, I highly recommend a movie called: “Hungry For Change”, which is now available on DVD. I promise it will blow your mind.

    To your great health!

    Jeff Bell

  13. Stephen says:

    Certainly informing the public of the insidious formulation technologies being deployed by Big Food is a step in the right direction. More graphic examples like the whistleblowers in the animal cruelty movement are essential to get the point across. The trouble is they are very secretive.

    We live in a free market where consumers are not forced to purchase tasty unhealthy products. As long as there is consumer choice there is consumer responsibility.

    A major cause of obesity is the subsidizing of unhealthy food by government. By getting rid of the subsidies healthy foods can compete much more effectively than they do now.

  14. LVP says:

    The consumer who eats the most prepared food, fast food, and unfortunately, restaurant food, is at risk for the most serious degenerative diseases. That person probably has a horrific fatty acid balance–in other words, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is above 8:1. Most Americans are above 15:1, and many are above 25:1. Ideal? 1.5-3:1.
    No eater of processed foods can obtain a balance of fatty acids, which is an important step in lowering inflammation.
    Carbs and sodium further compound the problems of a chronically inflamed patient.
    The food giants want to sell product? What does the consumer want? An early demise?

    • Jeff Bell says:

      What’s wrong with sodium? In my experience, as long as it is in its natural form, as either a natural component of real food, or as a part of natural, unprocessed salt it seems to do no harm whatsoever. I have never observed it leading to hypertension or any of the other health problems it supposedly causes. Nor have I ever been able to find any credible science to support the theory that excess sodium is responsible for these problems. As far as I can tell, there is no science behind that.

      In contrast, even small amounts of highly processed salt seems to increase the risk and/or exacerbate hypertension, as well as other problems.

      To your great health!

      Jeff Bell

  15. Maria says:

    Each of us can vote with how we spend our money. It has taken me the past five years, but I do not buy foods that come from a can, box or bag.

    I had to relearn a menu, and I am still learning. Alone my money vote is small but together with the many that are learning this new way, the money is becoming more significant.

    Business wants our dollars. If we do not buy the crap we will see more of what we are buying in the store.

    I want this book! Thanks for reviewing it.

  16. D. Trollope says:

    Some of this is not new, but this letter with a summary of the book, speaks volumes of how the public has been taken for a ride. The complexity is also acknowledged, so solving this needs all of us involved. It will require
    a solid plan and ingenuity.

    Any government that complies with these plans need exposure to the ill they cause. Are they for the people they are supposed to serve, or for corporations, and such, who take human life for granted? Money is the bottom line as usual.

    We all need to be AWARE. NOT COMPLY so easily with what are told is okay, and not. BECOME INVOLVED as citizens in your own well being. No one knows it all, but we can educate ourselves.

    Life is a sacred gift, we have let the powers that be steal that solid need in us all to be a part of a society that respects every person.

    Sometimes boycotts work, but mainly for a specific company for a specific reason. EDUCATION, the earlier the better, is starting to work which needs to carry on with new truthful information being used as it comes.

    Many people CANNOT AFFORD foods deemed healthy because the price then goes up. That needs to be addressed, so all people are involved. It seems prices are already an issue. If you notice whatever you buy, you are getting less and paying more.

    ADS I see on television are arrogant in making foods look like a tiny god with all eyes agog. So, ADVERTISING on media is something to look into. ADS also work to make you feel less a person if you do not have this, or that, item. It works for food as well.

    I know there are more things to be done, and dealt with in this, but these are few.

    Hope….it is in us, so we CAN change things. Act boldly, loudly, wisely, and with passion. Our children’s children are depending on us.

  17. Well done!! A superb summary of our food industry… I don’t doubt that what Patenaude reports here, summarizing Michael Moss’s book, is all true. And depressing… : (
    The question is, how can this all be turned around?

  18. Elizabeth says:

    GREED is responsible for the obesity epidemic…….leaders with no moral or ethical backbone……..the only motivating factor is money & power…….only those people who abide by these principals remain with any company……..things will not change until enough leaders wake-up and work for the wellbeing of citizens……..I am not very hopeful.

  19. Who is ultimately responsible for the obesity epidemic? Well, the food industry has a lot to do, obviously, but
    we, as individuals responsible for our own health and how we look and feel, are ultimately the ones to do
    whatever we can to stop this crazyness. How? Obviously a lot of us cannot cook every single meal, from
    scratch, using fresh produce, meat, fish (unless we go fishing ourselves, have our own cows, chickens that lay only fresh eggs, have lambs, hogs, go hunting for our game,etc., as that is not reasonable, ) but
    we definitely can limit eating/drinking those products that have the most salt, sugar, fat! We cannot be
    making fresh juice every time, but no one needs to drink a bottle of Coca Cola with every meal. We don’t have
    to eat super-sweet cereals every morning, as some of the hot cereals take only a couple of minutes to cook,
    boiling water first and then adding at the end skim milk or if lactose intolerant, almond or coconut milk instead.
    Meals can be cooked in the oven which saves us time if we do it at a time when is more convenient, and
    then separating several servings to put in freezer, ready when we need to microwave it if we don’t have time
    to reheat it in an oven or a frying pan. We may not be able to change the food industry to use less sodium,
    less sugar, less fat by asking, but if we stop buying the products that have the most of any of these toxic
    ingredients (no one needs to do away completely with sugar, salt or even fat when needed to make products
    more palatable, but we don’t need to purchase and eat those products that have a high concentration of any
    ‘of these 3 killer products), then, the food industry will have to do something about it to sell its products
    again. We, the people, have the power to force changes – little by little maybe, but we don’t have to gorge
    ourselves with products we know are toxic to us, and by limiting those we can’t replace with a healthier
    item, we are sending a powerful message to the food industry to find better ways to provide us with healthier
    choices. But that may be too much to ask of some people . . . . At our home, I try to do all of what I said
    to do above; sometimes we eat some of the products which are not the best for us – we know the consequences,
    and we don’t gorge on any of it on a regular basis. Taking responsibility for your own health, your own life,
    and what you do about it, is the only way to go. We simply can’t expect others to take care of us if we don’t
    do it ourselves.

  20. Velga says:

    Awesome! I love this book review!!!! I am a complete book-worm and I read so much, however I cannot read every single book i would find interesting to read – toooooooo many of those! So I am very happy this kind of review is out here! Thank yoU!

  21. Lilija says:

    It’s all about capitalism. Western economic model is based on continually maximizing profit, corporations are bound to serve for the shareholders, they have little choice but to ever strive for more profit, governments can’t do a lot, because without profit these corporations would bankrupt leaving many unemployed, which obviously is very unpopular, and if a government would make a decision that would lead to unemployment it would be thrown off by the public very quickly. It’s mainly the current economic system that is inherently unsustainable and faulty, not that much some “super-greedy and evil” individuals at the top.

  22. Karen says:

    Loved this article! The only way I can see to change all the things that are going wrong with the food industry, is simply to tax all processed food on a sliding scale according to how unhealthy it is (i.e. according to the ingredients and the degree of processing). Like cigarettes, the more expensive, unhealthy food, would become less affordable. Food companies would have to find real solutions to make their processed foods healthier and therefore cheaper. Furthermore, this tax should be used to subsidise the public health system and to educate the public. But I guess that is too simplistic an idea for the FDA or FSANZ and the like to run!!!

  23. Pink Slime! It’s in the news again – and this time, Jamie Oliver claims to have influenced MacDonalds to drop the ammonia sauce! Who came first I wonder. Thanks for your informative report on the Moss book, Frederic!

  24. Helen Fraser says:

    I am on the GAPS diet.It is carbohydrate and sugar free .But meat and fat it a big part of the diet. especially slow cooked for a long time bones , I am losing weight and my nails have started to grow after 17 years.If the inner linings and cells are damaged from lifestyle…etc the only way to repair the stomach lining is with this old fashioned method and living probiotics with every meal.ITs true we are all addicted to feeling our bodies..Awareness of how to make it sustauinably and consistently feel good is the challenge.

  25. Undoubtedly to me at least, the major problem with our food supply is the suppliers-but we don’t have to buy all of it. Big agriculture producers and the government take more interest in monetary factors than what is really good for the people. The small farmer fights to make it daily.
    I don’t want government telling me what to eat, but I do expect action on items like GMO’s in the marketplace, banning of BPA, etc. The European Union is ahead of us by leaps and bounds on some of these issues.
    I keep hearing about the obesity epidemic, yet there are no easy ways to feed a family that is lower income healthy foods when organics are the exception rather than the norm and you can buy a cheeseburger for under a dollar and organic celery, beets and lettuce costs twice that.I’m from a family with a history of multiple cancers, asthma, allergies, and health issues I feel are directly related to our food supply.
    We can keep diving into that inferior, manmade pseudo food or we can simply quit buying it.
    We don’t eat out of packages in our household, we don’t frequent fast food or any other restaurants, we attempt to buy real, organic, closest to the way nature made it foods.
    As an elder, I attempt to promote the same with my children and grandchildren and teach them a different way. It’s tough, when all around us, garbage is promoted as good food. If we want to change it, don’t buy it.
    We really do have more power than we imagine. Garden, shop wisely at farmers markets, put up your own food, cook together. One organic chicken can make 3 meals for 4 people (a pound of beans and rice even more), meat is an occasional pleasure not a necessity. More young cooks need to be taught how to provide healthy nutrition and do it economically. When it comes to change, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We just have to DO IT.

    • GRH says:

      I agree with you 100%.

      It’s not popular telling people that they can change if they want; when you take responsibility you take back the power you gave away in blaming others for your predicament.

      It takes effort to prepare food and cook it; but not really much more than going around the shops buying microwave rubbish. We should stop treating mealtimes as an inconvenience to be got through at the speed of light. We need to slow down and enjoy the experience of the now.

  26. GRH says:

    Who do you think is truly responsible for the obesity “epidemic” …

    We are.

    … and what’s the best way to solve it?

    Take back responsibility.

    It is a question of choice. We avoid making the choice we don’t want and invent excuses – blame others.

    Want to eat healthy? Buy healthy food, fresh vegetables aren’t that expensive, but we are lazy and make excuses or take the excuses offered by the food companies.

    You can’t blame the food companies for our buying choices – we are willing participants.

  27. Bonnie says:

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Much of it was, in one way or another, brought to my attention in the past, but this goes further than my previous knowledge. I do stand by the good fats in avacados, olive oil etc, and feel the body needs some salt.
    Realizing it wasn’t part of the book that was discussed, I would like to see your viewpoint on GMO foods. There again, it looks as though the government agencies and big ag, that we think are looking out for us, are letting us down, health wise.
    Let the buyer beware, and be well educated, you are your own best advocate.

  28. M says:

    American consumers do have a choice of what products to buy… to a point. Many families simply can’t afford to buy healthy food. Boxed, canned, processed food is far cheaper than good, wholesome, organic vegetables and natural food. Where I live hormone free beef is twice the price as even the leanest chemically processed stuff. Big food “factories” has pushed the farmers markets and roadside stands out of business a long time ago by offering cheaper (unhealthier) alternatives.

  29. Hilary says:

    We all have a choice as to what passes our lips.

  30. sa says:

    who’s responsible……I AM
    I keep learning things and adjust my diet with constant new information and pass it along to the people who live with me and encounter. I think we have never been in a time with MORE OPPORTUNITY to eat anything one wants. we can buy herbs from china, sea salt from Himalaya, seaweed from maine etc. i am very thankful i live in a tropical climate that i can grow or purchase fresh food all year…and HELLO PEOPLE whatever happened to the good old mung bean sprout, i bought a bag of them, took 1 tablespoon full and grew 2 quarts of sprouts for pennys….they were exploding out of the jar… so don’t let society dictate what you eat….YOU create it all with your choices

  31. Regina says:

    Alice, my path to health was similar to yours, starting by eliminating gluten and dairy. My life long gastritis and lower back pain went “misteriously” away, besides other symptoms. Afterwards, I abandoned the salt, sugar and animal proteins by going on a gluten free vegan diet to give it a try. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. The last six months I am incorporating veggie juices and smoothies including fruit, veggies, leafy greens and I achieved another notch on my health. There are definitely a lot of misinformation out there about the right way of eating and one must keep adjusting and listening to your own body reaction. It seems to be working for me like never before.
    I think since the GMO’s were introduced, around mid 90″s, the obesity problem just got amplified. The animals also eat GMO grains and this is the big reason I decided to give up animal protein all together. After I saw the French experiment with rats full of huge tumors by eating only GMO grains it was pretty much a turning point for me. Researchers say it causes a lot of damage to the internal organs.
    Also, I am a Brazilian living in the US for over two decades but by visiting my family very often I’ve noticed that Brazilians are also battling obesity, which was not the case before the GMO’s were introduced there. The cancer rate in Brazil has also increased tremendously after the GMO’s were introduced. Corn and Soy are the main GMO grains cultivated there. I also visit relatives very often in Europe and I noticed that Europeans are not overall obese. It made me wonder if besides the processed foods that we all know are not healthy for us, that GMO’s are in fact making things much worse? Europeans are fighting against the introduction of GMO’s for a long time now.
    Thanks for this article, Frederic. I have been reading your articles for many years and I specialy loved reading your book “The Raw Secrets”, because it helped so much to clear all the misconceptions about the raw food diet which I was about to embark on a year ago but afraid to make mistakes with food choices. Thanks again for sharing all the steps of your journey so we can learn from it.

  32. Guillaume says:

    Thanks for this summary of the main points you pulled out of the book. I am not sure how much is straight summary and where you have added personal views. But, just from the reading of it, your article certainly does seem to be condemning saturated fats and salt as being two of the three evils together with sugar. But this is totally not the case.

    Saturated fat (i.e. coconut oil and butter), as you should know, is the ideal cellular fuel, and is very stable against oxidation, compared to the alternative, polyunsaturated vegetable oils that are truly very bad for our health when consumed in anything else than whole foods like nuts, seeds and fish, for example. They cause serious free-radical damage and inflammation throughout the body. You should read Mary Enig’s book Know Your Fats, and at least her detailed summary article called The Skinny on Fats.

    And salt, well: sodium and chloride are the most important ions for proper bodily function. Out of a grand total of 300 mmol/dl of solutes in blood plasma, sodium makes up 140 and chloride 100. So that’s 240/300! The third highest in concentration is bicarbonate, the most important pH regulator, and it is at a concentration of 20 mmol/dl, which, as you can calculate yourself, is a measily 1/7 of the sodium concentration and 1/5 of the chloride. So, what does this tell you about the important of sodium chloride in our diet and for our health? You can read more about this on my blog, and in particular, in this article: http://healthfully.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/how-much-salt-how-much-water-and-our-amazing-kidneys/

  33. Kathy says:

    As consumers we are victimized by greed, and I don’t blame the victim. still, this information has been a aable a long time now. I have been healthy eating for many years and and now in my sixties. When I became vegan thirty years ago, it was after reading a book subtitled “how food companies victimize the consumer.” this was in 1985. Now there are many new twists, but the game is the same, and we are responsible to the extent that we support inferior products. Part of the problem is economic. The same greed keeps money away from the middle and lower classes and into the hands of greedy multi millionaires so the general public compromises long term Heath to pay the families bills for the month. still, if we kept more informed about the things that matter, we would realize the extent of the “con” and not be sold products that would eventually hurt us. Really it’s a matter of greed visiting upon the vulnerable. we who are more informed have a responsibility to help the others learn that they have power of healthy choices. I am seeing many people die at my age from preventable illness–it’s hard to watch and also hard to change their way of life that fast turns into way of death, often too late to change the process.

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