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I Know A War When I See One: Michael Moss On The Battle Over Food [VIDEO]
Food | May 16, 2013

I Know A War When I See One: Michael Moss On The Battle Over Food [VIDEO]

The processed food industry is preparing itself for battle, food speaker Michael Moss says. In their arsenal is a scientifically calculated combination of salt, sugar, and fat. If this doesn't exactly leave you shaking in your boots, consider that the industry has manipulated how much of each ingredient they dump into their products to ensure you are rendered powerless against the taste of "craveable," "snackable" goodies. "I know a war when I see one," Moss tells CUNY TV's City Talk, "and this battle over food in the United States is a war." (And that's coming from a investigative journalist who's done extensive reporting on the conflict around the world.) Moss, the author of The New York Times bestseller Salt Sugar Fat, says every corporation in the industry is fighting for one thing: "a share of your stomach." While these companies are careful to never use the term "addiction" in relation to their products, Moss says they have no problem referring to their best customers as "heavy users" in clinical taste-test studies. They may not have us "addicted," but as Moss shows, they do have us hooked.

Like any worthy opponent, the food industry has exhaustively studied our weaknesses —nd capitalized on them. As Moss says in the interview, they have tapped into neurological impulses that cause us to crave a certain taste or texture. We are hardwired at the neurological level to enjoy consuming fat and sugar. Biting into an gooey cheese sandwich, for example, triggers a pleasure response in our brain. It tells us that we enjoyed the way eating that sandwich made us feel. And, it makes us want more of it. The food companies know this. That's why they've invested so much time and money into finding the 'bliss points' in food—the magical amount of salt, sugar, and/or fat that will send us "over the moon" for a certain product. Salt, Moss adds, required a whole different set of tactics from the food companies. That's because he says humans don't acquire a liking for salt until they are about six months old. "Recent research indicates that the processed food industry is hugely influential in creating cravings of salt," Moss says. "Kids exposed to processed foods are much more apt to be licking the salt shaker by the time they're in preschool."

Moss makes one more point about the war on food: the food companies actually aren't trying to destroy us. Many companies do care about the link between the salt, sugar, and fat levels in their food and health problems. Some of them are trying to give more disclosure on what is in their food and how it can affect you if you over-consume it. The problem, however, is that these companies still have to do what companies do—beat their competitors. This is where Moss' theory on the war over food comes into play. In his talks, he shares eye-opening research about the way food companies operate and how we, as consumers, can fight back. His speeches are not anti-industry—they're anti-ignorance. He shows audiences the importance of fully understanding what's in your food. And, how you can take this research and make smarter choices about what you eat.
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