This past Sunday, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story on the notion of “food addiction,” claiming that food companies make food that is just too good. The book the article is excerpted from, Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, will be released tomorrow, so expect the pressure on free consumer choices to rise as the political, media, and cultural elite work through its pages.
Moss hopes that his book will result in government regulation of consumer choices, and he says that the White House has talked to him about the book’s findings. But recent polling shows the nation has little taste for laws to make food worse. Bloomberg’s soda ban — set to be law in NYC in two weeks — faces opposition from about three-quarters of Americans, according to an Associated Press poll.
But is Moss’s claim that foods are simply opiates in disguise credible? No. Researchers from Cambridge University reviewed the scientific evidence purporting to back up the theory and advised that “criteria for substance dependence translate poorly to food-related behaviors.”
And Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle can only laugh at Moss’s insinuations of dark conspiracies in food companies’ research and development divisions. Hinkle notes that the book’s argument boils down thusly: “Food companies work very, very hard to find out what will give you, the consumer, the most pleasure for your money — and then the diabolical fiends actually give it to you!” The only “solutions” that exist for this obvious non-problem are to make foods (that you can afford, at least) taste worse.
What an appetizing thought. If you were wondering which foods and beverages are next in line for the food police ban-hammer after soft drinks, an enthusiastic review by the Daily Beast suggests gourmands should start hoarding steak and stinky cheese. According to the reviewer, Moss “shames the Center for Nutrition Policy for having skewed guidelines that fail to mention the dangerous fat content in beef and cheese.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), America’s center of food policing, can be expected to enjoy pushing additional “sin” taxes on cheese and meat for which it has advocated for a long time. The rest of us won’t be so happy.