I read a really interesting article in the New York Times Magazine (on-line) this morning about why processed food is so addictive. It’s a lengthy article but well worth the read. If you’ve got the time, please read it.

If you don’t have time to read it, here are a few teasers:

  1. the food industry has been likened to the tobacco industry
  2. Yoplait yogurt – has twice as much sugar per serving as General Mills’ marshmallow cereal Lucky Charms (this would be a good reason to make your own yogurt or buy plain and add syrup, jam or honey)
  3. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.”
  4. There is a guy who studied math and has a Ph.D in experimental psychology that “optimizes” food.
  5. Food engineers alter everything from taste to color to texture to who knows what and consumers are paid to “test” the products.
  6. Computer models and statistical programs are set up to analyze data provided by the consumer testers to find out what combination of ingredients/colors/textures etc. people are most likely to buy
  7. the secret to a successful junk food is to create recipes (formulas!) that “pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating“.
  8. the history of lunchables is interesting (and disturbing) and I love the line “when in doubt, add sugar” (you’ve really got to read the full article!).
  9. processed foods require weeks or months of transport and storage before they arrive at the store. Gross!
  10. Frito-lay has invested millions to perfect “crunch”
  11. It’s “more efficient” for soft drink producers to get existing fans to drink more than to bring on new fans.

Good for me, I nibbled on carrots as I read that instead of chocolate-chip cookies.