Michael Moss is an award-winning journalist who takes us through years of research into the way processed food has evolved, how it has changed the patterns of our eating, and its impact on obesity. The book is split into three sections: sugar, fat, and salt (ironically in that order, rather than title order).
I can’t really review this book, because there was just so much in it. I did learn a lot, and it was a fascinating look at what really causes some of those addictions we have. Unlike when I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I didn’t spend this whole book getting more and more disgusted by processed food. In fact, I found myself actually craving stuff I hadn’t had in years. I wanted to go out and eat all those crappy Little Debbie snack cakes and premade cookie dough and a ton of different kinds of chips and even those crappy lunchables. I even set up a make-our-own-junkfood project for my kids this summer. Now, part of this was just that I was craving junk anyway, but part of it was also just reading about the addictive properties of certain elements of food.
Honestly, in some ways, I do wish it had had more of an effect the way the Pollan books did. For a very long time after The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I wasn’t in the least bit interested in processed food. Now, I find myself wanting to incorporate more of it in my life, and that seems to be the opposite of what this book was trying to accomplish. Probably the reason for it is that while Moss certainly does state his opinion from time to time, the journalism itself was very unbiased. Clinical, almost. It presents facts, without saying whether those facts are good or bad. It presents both sides of the story. It was definitely a different way to read about this kind of food. I was horrified quite often by what happens in the industry, but not terribly shocked, either.
This is a terrible review but I’m not sure I can do much better. There was just so much in here. It was a difficult book to read – would have been better in audio – and I had to cut it down to 7 days or fewer because it was an express-check-out book from the library. I think I would have better thoughts if I’d taken several weeks to read (or listen) to it. Still, despite the bad review, I did learn a lot from the book, and I have a lot of respect for the author. Soon I’ll be listening to another book on processed foods (Pandora’s Lunchbox), and it’ll be interesting to see how the two books compare.