On February 24, 2013,the New York Times published an extremely disturbing article written by Michael Moss, titled The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.The article takes the reader inside the rarely disclosed underworld of food manufacturing and exposes the ugly truth about food science and the deliberate intentions of big food conglomerates to create unhealthy, addictive foods in the name of greater financial gain regardless of the health consequences to us - their consumers. It explains how armies of food scientists are instructed to get as close as possible to what is considered to be the “Holy Grail” of addictive junk food.By dialing in the exact flavor, color and texture that creates the greatest amount of crave, food scientists work to push consumers to ingest as much of their franken-food as humanly possible, by making it nearly impossible for them to put it down. The article directly reveals that these well known manufacturers are not only guilty of producing these addictive junk foods, but also knowledgeable as to how these foods are adding to the health conditions and obesity epidemic that is limiting the lifespan of our youth, and yet still relentlessly press their companies toward increased profits and market share no matter the human price.
One of the main ingredients the article points out as a commonly used tool of crave manipulation, is sugar.Nutritionist identify sugar as one of our Poor Food ingredients—and explain to the reader its health depleting effects and addictive properties. The great effort required fight off a craving for sugars’ sweet taste is well documented; In fact, according to researchers out of the University of Bordeaux, refined sugar, the same ingredient added to many processed foods, is far more addictive than cocaine. This is one of the many reasons why we recommend removing it from your daily diet. It is time that we, as consumers, break free of the sugarcoated chains these contriving companies try to bind and control us with. Additionally, when these companies want to reduce costs, and squeeze out higher profits, they often throw high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) into the mix. What they don’t want you to know is that HFCS, unlike sugar, does not trigger the secretion of leptin, a hormone that tells your brain when you are full. Because of this, eating foods that contain HFCS can lead to increased caloric consumption and obesity. HFCS consumption may also lead to an increased risk of heart disease because it has been shown to cause elevated triglyceride levels. The ramifications of a diet filled with HFCS are well documented and yet, products containing this Poor Food ingredient fill nearly every aisle in the grocery store.
The deception of food science doesn’t end there. There is an additional ingredient not discussed in the article, but widely used by U.S. food manufactures, which scientists worldwide recognize as an obesity inducer – Monosodium Glutamate (aka. MSG). MSG has long been used by food scientists to trick us into thinking a food tastes better than it really does. In fact, this flavor enhancer, found in nearly all processed foods in one form or another, has been shown to increase food consumption in animals by 40% and evidence suggests that it may produce similar responses in humans. MSG works so well that it is used to rapidly increase the weight of lab rats when overweight or obese rats are needed for various experiments. The food scientists hired by these unscrupulous monsters of manufacturing are well aware that like HFCS, MSG also works to induce obesity because it seems to make us leptin resistant. Recall that leptin is the hormone that makes us feel satiated. Why would you ever put down the bag of MSG-laden chips if your brain never actually receives the message to stop eating them? The New York Times article also made it clear that the CEOs of America’s largest food companies are well aware of the fact, that the bagged, boxed and bottled products they are feverishly pushing onto society, are not only contributing to our obesity epidemic, but to the increase in diabetes and heart disease as well. In addition to everything else, MSG also causes the pancreas to secrete insulin, which drops your blood sugar quickly and makes you hungrier faster.
These “Kings of Conventional Packaged Foods” need us to purchase their products in order to fill the bank accounts that supply the funds necessary to pay the food scientist to build their addictive consumer mousetraps. But we have news for them; their addictive foods cannot trap us, cause our obesity and decrease our life spans if we are educated enough not to purchase them in the first place. There is a war going on right now, and we, as a nation, need to take a stand against this type of disgusting and moralless behavior. We need to hit these manufactures where it hurts— in their bank accounts.We need to cut the industry giants down to size and show them that they must be responsible for the products that they sell. As consumers we want to know that we are buying the safest, healthiest products that we can. Not products that these companies have manipulated to the point that we can’t stop eating them, but real food products that add to our health in a meaningful way. While many of these “Grocery Store Gods,” like Frito-Lay, Yoplait, and Coco-Cola named in the New York Times article, feel that conning consumers with drug-like addictive foods is the way to go to increase profits, selling more with every obesity-inducing fix, are there other companies out there finding new ways to increase profits without jeopardizing the health of the American public? Is it even possible? The answer is yes, and the good news is that food quality is now a trend that some conscientious companies are starting to pay close attention to. In 2011, the Hudson Institute, a think tank on public policy, reported that healthier foods have generated more than 70% of the growth in sales for consumer packaged-goods.
We applaud the companies, like Walmart, Disney, and Walgreens who are striving to meet the desires of the consumer by implementing conscientious advertising and offering healthier options in their stores and theme parks. And leaders like Michelle Obama who are bringing the issue of food quality and childhood obesity to the forefront. But we must do more if we want to turn around the health crisis America currently faces.There is a plague among us that must be eradicated; it is no longer lurking in the shadows behind closed doors. It has been exposed through the brave words of Michael Moss and it is up to us to do something about it. Real change will start with you. So get out your flag of personal responsibility and start waving it. Educate yourself and take control of your health through calculated action. This will not be a battle easily won, but it is a battle that must be fought if we are to save ourselves, and our children from the health conditions and diseases inflicted by the extraordinary science of addictive junk food.