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Feb 20, 2013 10:11 PM

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food -- New York Times

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"What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. What follows is a series of small case studies of a handful of characters whose work then, and perspective now, sheds light on how the foods are created and sold to people who, while not powerless, are extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these companies’ industrial formulations and selling campaigns."

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  1. Reading that article this will probably mean that I'll be late for work this morning, but it was indeed fascinating. I can't say it's "eyeopening", per se, as the "profit before people" corporate approach is nothing new, but the whole thing just seems so dirty. My favorite quote: "The selling of food matters as much as the food itself."

    Sad thing is, while I almost never eat any of the products mentioned in the piece, I could go for a Dorito about now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MGZ

      It's sad that we are so cynical but I agree.

      I'm not shocked, SHOCKED, that the profit motive was so baldly expressed as more important than people's health (probably there were similar conversations in the tobacco companies at one point) but still.

      A very nice piece of work and worth reading.

    2. On the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends. Their stature was defined by their skill in fighting one another for what they called “stomach share” — the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition.
      This alone reads like a Hollywood script for the next comic book feature film. All we need is a title.

      maria, I sent the article to my young scientist son, thanks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        A pretty substantial case was made by David Kessler, the former head of the FDA on the constituent components of the prepared foods in the USA.

        1. re: Phaedrus

          Focusing on the over eating aspect of that book (which I have read) was pretty powerful. My eating habits have changed considerably as I've gotten older and to the benefit of the children I raised. But we all deal with the powerful hold advertising & marketing (especially to the young) has on us.

      2. What a great article! My favorite quote: "When in doubt, add sugar." That is the crux of the problem, in my view.

        3 Replies
        1. re: GH1618

          Heck yes...even POTATO salad has sugar added to it in most places now...YUCKO! It's really disgusting. Most cornbread tastes like corn cake too. Just make your own foods! GAH!

          1. re: Val

            To be fair, my paternal great grandmother's potato salad recipe called for sugar. My mother, on the other hand, would die before she'd add sugar to potato salad. There are various salad recipes that call for sugar with no particularly malicious intent.

            1. re: StrandedYankee

              I hear you Stranded, but I was mostly referring to supermarket potato salad...where there's too much goo to begin with, you know? No offense to your great grammy!

        2. I thought this was a good one, too. It's really, really disturbing and awful.

          1. It's a long article but worth reading. I don't think there's anything eye-opening in it, though. I would have guessed the CEOs/heads of those corporations would have an idea that their products are contributing to the obesity problem. Anyone who has eaten cheetos has realized how addictive they can be, although I had no idea why. I'm generally pretty good about self-control but I can easily eat a bag of those!