I read Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us recently, and it changed how I look at business and ethics. I didn’t know how badly I needed to read this book until I picked it up a couple weeks ago. I was so interested in the history of the foods we eat, and the foods I grew up with, that it took some serious willpower to put it down.
I am all about free markets and businesses making money selling things that people want. These are things that have made our country great. It keeps us inventive and driven. It helps give us motivation to grow and develop, to do things better, to be the best we can be.
But this book describes a concern about the ethics and the practices of some of the largest and most successful businesses in history. There is a drive in the food business to sell us products so they can make money for stockholders and owners. This is what the free market and capitalism is all about, right? Sell more cereal and cookies and pre-packed lunches and yogurt; give people what they want and you make everyone happy.
At what cost? Some of these companies have scientifically developed their foods so that they are the most appealing, so the “bliss point” is achieved. What is it we really want from our food? Long shelf life and lots of calories? Are the food companies really doing what they should be doing? Or is it up to consumers to buy what is healthy or not?
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us is revealing and should be considered mandatory reading for anyone interested in nutrition and health.
Michael Lemme, DDS