Ask Mr. Marketing: Now I’m afraid to eat anything

By Rob Weinberg

The end of the school year means it’s time for my book report about “Salt Sugar Fat.”

Written by Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss, this book tells how the processed food industry uses, abuses and manipulates salt, sugar and fat to fool consumers into thinking they really need crackers, potato chips, soda, and a trillion dollars of other items that are, at best, of marginal nutritional value.

Taking on Kraft, General Mills, Pillsbury, Coke and all their brethren, the author names names and takes no prisoners. Starting with 1999’s clandestine meeting where industry leaders aggressively chose to overlook their responsibility for weight gain, health problems, and a raft of social ills, readers are walked through brain scans, strategies to target children, and the myriad ways we are coaxed and cajoled into happily buying items that line Beelzebub’s pockets while having detrimental effects on ourselves and our families.

Reading this book reminded me of the opening page of “Helter Skelter,” where the reader is advised: “The story you’re about to read is guaranteed to scare the hell out of you.” This one does, too.

In addition to doing comprehensive research, Mr. Moss writes extremely well. This makes what might be a dry topic a fascinating page turner. Not a paragraph went by where I wasn’t shaking my head, gritting my teeth, or dropping my jaw.

I also got very angry at these companies that see us all as sheep to fleece. Their “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” attitude causes high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and more.

And they don’t care.

So while I began reading the book in awe of the marketing prowess that could create products like Lunchables, I quickly realized these mercenary executives may lower salt for one product, but increase sugar or fat to ensure my taste buds are primed to return for more. The only part of me they care about is my wallet.

This eye-opening experience caused me to attentively read ingredient labels, eat more natural foods, and be more aware of what’s going on around me. And if I can get one person to read “Slat Sugar Fat” and pay attention to these mind games, then today’s column has been successful.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Mr. Marketing distinguishes between education and manipulation. Learn more at

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Posted by Karen Brainard on May 30 2013. Filed under Ask Mr. Marketing, Business, Columnists, Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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