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We Need An Industry-Wide Shift To Fix Our Food: Michael Moss [VIDEO]
Health | August 15, 2013

We Need An Industry-Wide Shift To Fix Our Food: Michael Moss [VIDEO]

Despite having written a bestselling book on the dangers of processed food, health speaker Michael Moss isn't on a tirade against the industry. In fact, he's pretty pragmatic about the reason the industry overdoses its products in salt, sugar, and fat to bring consumers to the "bliss point." In his book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us, Moss argues that the food companies are just as dependent on this "holy trinity" of ingredients as we are. These ingredients make our food taste good, which, in turn makes them fly off the shelves. The food companies aren't in the business to make us sick—they're in the business to make profits. That means that most of their products are going to be loaded with not-so-good-for-you amounts of these three things, because the more "craveable" the product, the better the profit margin.

In a clip from a keynote he gave recently, Moss says there needs to be an industry-wide consensus to sell healthier products or else it won't happen. Take the epic failure one fast food giant experience when it unveiled a new low-fat burger in 1991. It was advertised as being 91 % fat-free and was made from lean beef and seaweed extract. At a time when consumers were criticizing the fat-laden menus at many restaurants, you'd think the product would be a hit for the health-conscious. (The low-fat burger also performed well in taste tests before going to mass-market). The burger, however, was a flop. The reason why is spelled out in the commercial itself: It bragged about being the only company to offer such a product. In a market where low-fat is often associated with "cardboard taste," the competition's juicy, full-fat burgers meant the lean patty didn't stand a chance.

Moss also uses another big-name company as an example of the control Wall Street has over the food manufacturing process. In 2003, one company pulled back in its marketing to young children, started including nutritional information based on portion size on their labels, and put caps on the amount of salt, sugar, and fat to be put in their products. All of which were "amazing" and "revolutionary" initiatives, Moss points out. But in the face of store shelf competition, and richer alternatives selling better, the company "found itself struggling to survive and it found itself nudging up the richness of their [products] in order to compete." In order to see carrot sticks beat out chocolate bars on store shelves, shareholders need to loosen their grips, he explains. And that can only happen when the food industry collectively agrees to make changes to their manufacturing. As Moss crystallizes in this talk: We'll see healthier alternatives in the store when it becomes profitable to sell them.

Michael Moss is a bestselling author and a reporter for The New York Times. His objective and probing research brings new insight into what we eat, and, how the industry engineers our food to taste the way it does. To book a health speaker like Michael Moss for you next corporate or private event, contact The Lavin Agency.
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