Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese and seventy pounds of sugar. Every day, we ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt, double the recommended amount, almost none of which comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food, an industry that hauls in $1 trillion in annual sales. In Salt Sugar FatPulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we ended up here. Featuring examples from Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Capri Sun, and many more, Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research. He takes us into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again. 

Praise for Salt Sugar Fat

“As a feat of reporting and a public service, Salt Sugar Fat is a remarkable accomplishment.”

The New York Times Book Review

“[Michael] Moss has written a Fast Food Nation for the processed food industry. Burrowing deep inside the big food manufacturers, he discovered how junk food is formulated to make us eat more of it and, he argues persuasively, actually to addict us.”

—Michael Pollan

About the Author

Michael Moss was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 1999 and 2006. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to The New York Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons. Check out Michael’s website: and follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelMossC.


Michael Moss’ Tomato Sauce

Serves 3


1 Can plum tomatoes (San Marzano recommended)
4 minced garlic cloves
2 tblsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
3 sprigs of fresh basil

Instructions (In Michael’s Words)
My own simple recipe for spaghetti sauce that isn’t loaded with salt or a couple of Oreo cookies worth of sugar in a tiny half cup serving like some store brands: Open one can plum tomatoes (San Marzano from Italy are amazing), resist the temptation to drink the juice, pour into a bowl and mush the tomatoes with your hands, pour into a medium hot skillet where you’ve had a little minced garlic sizzling in olive oil for 60 seconds, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar (just because my mom did) and some sprigs of basil if you have some around, and in 5 minutes or longer if you wish, add to cooked spaghetti.

Header photo by Peg93/Wikimedia