Soda Politics: Taking On Big Soda (And Winning)

Sodas are little more than flavored sugar-water and cost practically nothing to produce or buy, yet have turned their makers—principally Coca-Cola and PepsiCo—into a multibillion-dollar industry with global recognition, distribution, and political power. So well established to contribute to poor dental hygiene, higher calorie intake, obesity, and type-2 diabetes that the first line of defense against any of these conditions is to simply stop drinking sodas. How did such products become multibillion dollar industries and international brand icons?  In Soda Politics, which won the 2016 James Beard Award for Writing & Literature and the International Association of Culinary Professionals Jane Grigson award for distinguished scholarship, Marion Nestle answers this question by detailing all of the ways that the soft drink industry works overtime to make drinking soda as common and accepted as drinking water. Nestle, a renowned food and nutrition policy expert and public health advocate, shows how sodas are principally miracles of advertising. And once they have stimulated that demand, they leave no stone unturned to protect profits. But Soda Politics does more than just diagnose a problem–it encourages readers to help find solutions. Health advocacy campaigns are now the single greatest threat to soda companies’ profits. Soda Politics provides readers with tools to counter Big Soda in order to build healthier and more sustainable food systems.

Praise for Soda Politics

“What happens when the food industry’s most insightful critic turns her sights on soda? This razor-sharp, fun to read, plan-of-battle for one of the greatest public health fights of our time. Big soda may have all the money, but those who would enter this fray, as we all should, now have their champion.”

–Michael Moss, Author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

“The soda industry is a powerful economic operator. Economic power readily translates into political power. Soda Politics is exactly the kind of carefully-researched investigative reporting needed to open the eyes of the public and parliamentarians to the health hazards of what is, as the author rightly notes, essentially liquid candy in a bottle.”

–Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization

About the Author

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor, of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she officially retired in September 2017. She is also Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She earned a PhD in molecular biology and an MPH in public health nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been awarded honorary degrees from Transylvania University in Kentucky (2012) and from the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College (2016).

Among her recent honors are the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service from Bard College in 2010, the Public Health Hero award from the University of California School of Public Health at Berkeley in 2011, the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2013, and the Innovator of the Year Award from the U.S. Healthful Food Council and the Public Health Association of New York City’s Media Award in 2014. In 2016, her book, Soda Politics, won literary awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), and she was elected to membership in the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society. She was honored with a Trailblazer Award from the IACP in 2018.

Her forthcoming book is Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat (Basic Books, October 2018).

Follow Marion on Twitter and check out her excellent blog at:

Real Food Reads Recipes

Ditch the soda! Here are some naturally sweet and refreshing drinks to keep you cool from Jessica’s site.

Rosemary Blackberry Spritzers


3 cups seltzer water
1 lime
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup blackberries (½ cup fresh, ½ cup frozen)
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary


  1. In a bowl, combine seltzer water, the juice of 1 lime, and maple syrup
  2. Mash ½ cup of fresh blackberries in a cup
  3. Then add the blackberry mash to a large jar, along with the seltzer water mix, and rosemary sprigs. Make sure to bruise some of the rosemary stems to release the flavors.
  4. When ready to serve, pour into glasses and top with frozen blackberries. Garnish with rosemary.

Herb-Infused Water

From Food Heaven Made Easy


1 mason jar, filled with water
10 basil leaves
10 mint leaves
3-4 berries
2 slices of orange (or you can use your favorite fruits!)


  1. Put the last 4 ingredients into the water-filled mason jar.
  2. Pinch some of the leaves to release their flavor.
  3. Let soak overnight and enjoy your water!

Cucumber Ginger Agua Fresca


1 large cucumber
2 ounces of fresh ginger
3 cups of water
3 tablespoons of maple syrup


  1. Cut the cucumber into 4 pieces, and blend with ginger and 1 cup of water.
  2. Strain the blend into a large jar, add 2 cups of water, and maple syrup. Stir away!

Note: Lasts for up to 7 days.