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The "Holy Trinity Of Processed Food": Michael Moss On Salt, Sugar & Fat
Health | April 22, 2013

The "Holy Trinity Of Processed Food": Michael Moss On Salt, Sugar & Fat

"Until you understand the depth of the deception and psychology used in the formulation of processed foods, you will be powerless against it," health speaker Michael Moss says in The Daily Beast. "The goal of my book is to empower people to see through this scheming." His book is aptly titled Salt Sugar Fat—the three ingredients he refers to as the "three pillars, the holy trinity, of processed food." Highly publicized scandals involving unsavory ingredients being unknowingly leaked into our food is scary enough. Moss argues that what is knowingly going into what we eat is scarier still. The food companies are intentionally adding salt, sugar, and fat into our foods in scientifically researched amounts, he's found. They aim to find the tipping point (or, the "bliss point" as it's called in the industry) where just the right combination of these ingredients makes consumers crave their products.

His research, however, isn't necessarily intended to be anti-establishment. Rather, Moss wants to empower people to make smarter decisions about their food. Many of us consult the nutrition label on the foods we eat, he notes. However, there may be red flags we are missing. "Any product that touts itself as 'LOW FAT' for instance, is often loaded with sugar," he explains. "Anything bragging that it 'CONTAINS REAL FRUIT' is usually hiding a big dose of added sugar that has been extracted from fruit. And words like 'ADDED CALCIUM' are often a diversion from the product’s loads of salt, sugar, and fat." He also suggests looking above and below eye level on grocery shelves. That's because the healthiest foods are generally stocked out of sight so we gravitate toward the sugary, fatty, and salty foods instead. Finally, stick to the outer aisles if at all possible. That's where the "fresh fruits and vegetables and less-processed meats and dairy are sold," Moss says.

The more that we know about how our food is made, the more we can start to change things. When we are armed with the facts, we can make more informed decisions and turn the tables on the industry. And, we can start to shift the conversation at the government level. When more of us choose healthier alternatives, it begins a chain of events that will hopefully allow policy makers to subsidize healthier food options. Whether it's the research he provides in his books and articles, or the solutions he illustrates in his talks, Moss is fueling a necessary conversation about "what's for dinner." His factual, journalistic style (a product of his experience at The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), provides a refreshing take on the food industry. And, after hearing what he has to say, many of us will never look at what we put into our stomachs the same way again.
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