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480 pages, Hardcover
First published February 26, 2013
'Take more than a little salt, or sugar, or fat out of processed food, these experiments showed, and there is nothing left. Or, even worse, what is left are the inexorable consequences of food processing, repulsive tastes that are bitter, metallic, and astringent.'
'the Department of Agriculture is actually complicit in the meat industry's secrecy. [...] The burger that Stephanie [paralyzed by E.Coli] ate, made by Cargill, had been an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of the cow and from multiple slaughterhouses as far away as Uruguay. The meat industry, with the blessing of the federal government, was intentionally avoiding steps that could make their products safer for consumers. The E. Coli starts in the slaughterhouses, where feces tainted with the pathogen can contaminate the meat when the hides of cows are pulled off. Yet many of the biggest slaughterhouses would sell their meat only to hamburger makers like Cargill if they agreed not to test their meat for E. Coli until it was mixed together with shipments from other slaughterhouses. This insulated the slaughterhouses from costly recalls when the pathogen was found in ground beef, but it also prevented the government officials and the public from tracing the E. Coli back to its source. When it comes to pathogens in the meat industry, ignorance is financial bliss.'
Some of the largest companies are now using brain scans to study how we react neurologically to certain foods, especially to sugar. They’ve discovered that the brain lights up for sugar the same way it does for cocaine.Salt Sugar Fat is a really good book. On an academic level, it explains how the pursuit of dollars and sales have led the American food companies—independently, but ultimately in concert—to create the ever-expanding unhealthy choices in the grocery store. Using customer preference as a defense, companies have pumped more and more salt, sugar, and fat into our diets, consequences be damned. The book has a point of view for sure, but it does not paint these companies as villains; they are made up of real people, trying to do their jobs well (no shame in that). Instead, it focuses on the aggregate effects, and the failure of government to exercise oversight over the industry.
They may have salt, sugar, and fat on their side, but we, ultimately, have the power to make choices. After all, we decide what to buy. We decide how much to eat.