Why is the world now facing more food related health issues ever than before? Three words: salt, sugar, fat. Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2010, dives deep into how food companies such as Kraft, Frito-Lay, and Coca-Cola are all studying and targeting people to get them to buy foods from these companies. The worst part of all is that these food companies target children because they bring in the most amount of recurring revenue. Essentially, children are making these food companies rich at the expense of their own health. Here are some points from the book:
1. Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets; these companies know it and exploit it. These companies chemically modify their foods to find the optimal “delicious” point to get us to buy them. They’ll add whatever ingredients to get you to buy them. “The second thing to know about sugar: Food manufacturers are well aware of the tongue map folly, along with a whole lot more about why we crave sweets. They have on staff cadres of scientists who specialize in the senses, and the companies use their knowledge to put sugar to work for them in countless ways. Sugar not only makes the taste of food and drink irresistible. The industry has learned that it can also be used to pull off a string of manufacturing miracles, from donuts that fry up bigger to bread that won’t go stale to cereal that is toasty-brown and fluffy. All of this has made sugar a go-to-ingredient in processed foods.“
2. Food companies don’t have your health interests in mind, only their financial interest. “Monell, on behalf of the food manufacturers, also dug into the question of whether sugar causes people to overeat, and in this area the scientists made some troubling discoveries. For instance, it wasn’t enough for food to have an attractive taste, they found. To be really enticing, these products had to be loaded with sugar and fat. Only these two ingredients, along with salt, seemed to have the power to excite the brain about eating.“
3. Fat is such a powerful ingredient for these food companies. This ingredient alone is causing so many health problems in the world. “Fat also performs a range of culinary tricks for food manufacturers, thanks to another of its extraordinary powers. It can mask and convey other flavors in foods, all at the same time. This can be seen in a dollop of sour cream, which has acidic components that, by themselves, don’t taste so great. Fat coats these acids. Then, this same oily coating reverses direction, and instead of acting as a shield, it stimulates and prolongs the tongue’s absorption of the sour cream’s more subtle and aromatic flavors, which, of course, is what the food makers want the taste buds to convey to the brain. This act of delivering other flavors is one of fat’s most valued functions.“
4. One of the reasons why these food companies are able to rake in big bucks on products that do more harm than good is because of their ability to market it so well. In an extreme analogy, they’re polishing a turd and marketing it well. “As the obesity group saw it, the problem for consumers was the way the FDA let Kraft and other companies do the math. All this critical information was couched in terms of a single serving. Instead of telling consumers how much the whole package contained, the nutrition facts said only how much there was in a serving. This gave the manufacturers an obvious advantage: It shrank all the numbers and downplayed the nutritional risk. Take a bag of potato chips. Instead of saying 2,4000 calories and 22.5 grams of fat, which were the true contents, the nutrition facts said 160 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, which were the contents per serving. Moreover, these things called serving sizes had been established by the FDA in the early 1990s, based on surveys from the 1970s, and had little to do with the way people really ate, especially when it came to junk food that compelled overeating.“
By Ryan Lee
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