Open Thread: Making Junk “Addictive”

Michael Moss, in the NYTimes, with harsh truths about such beloved all-American food products as Dr. Pepper, Prego spaghetti sauce, Lunchables, and the industrialized world’s most perfect weight-gain-inducing, addictive snack:

The public and the food companies have known for decades now… that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. 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. I talked to more than 300 people in or formerly employed by the processed-food industry, from scientists to marketers to C.E.O.’s. Some were willing whistle-blowers, while others spoke reluctantly when presented with some of the thousands of pages of secret memos that I obtained from inside the food industry’s operations. What follows is a series of small case studies of a handful of characters whose work then, and perspective now, sheds light on how the foods are created and sold to people who, while not powerless, are extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these companies’ industrial formulations and selling campaigns…

In the process of product optimization, food engineers alter a litany of variables with the sole intent of finding the most perfect version (or versions) of a product. Ordinary consumers are paid to spend hours sitting in rooms where they touch, feel, sip, smell, swirl and taste whatever product is in question. Their opinions are dumped into a computer, and the data are sifted and sorted through a statistical method called conjoint analysis, which determines what features will be most attractive to consumers. Moskowitz likes to imagine that his computer is divided into silos, in which each of the attributes is stacked. But it’s not simply a matter of comparing Color 23 with Color 24. In the most complicated projects, Color 23 must be combined with Syrup 11 and Packaging 6, and on and on, in seemingly infinite combinations. Even for jobs in which the only concern is taste and the variables are limited to the ingredients, endless charts and graphs will come spewing out of Moskowitz’s computer. “The mathematical model maps out the ingredients to the sensory perceptions these ingredients create,” he told me, “so I can just dial a new product. This is the engineering approach.” …

But the largest weight-inducing food was the potato chip. The coating of salt, the fat content that rewards the brain with instant feelings of pleasure, the sugar that exists not as an additive but in the starch of the potato itself — all of this combines to make it the perfect addictive food. “The starch is readily absorbed,” Eric Rimm, an associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the study’s authors, told me. “More quickly even than a similar amount of sugar. The starch, in turn, causes the glucose levels in the blood to spike” — which can result in a craving for more…

Mmmm, chips…

109 replies
  1. 1
    Cacti says:

    I know Dr. Pepper is terrible for me and is just a bottle of empty calories.

    But I love it so.

    Whatcha gonna do?

  2. 2
    ThresherK says:

    Cue the poutrage when this mere science is used to keep the oppressed class (Frito-Americans) from getting USDA approval to sell this in public schools.

  3. 3
    Anthony says:

    I’m surprised they haven’t found a way to weaponize this yet.

  4. 4
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    This should be good, I’d better go pop some more popcorn.

    Oh, wait.

  5. 5
    Gretchen D says:

    Potato chips, french fries and cheetos – I never buy any of them because I have such a hard time resisting them at others’ houses.

  6. 6
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Anthony: I love potato chips, they are a weakness of mine. So I never buy them except in 1 serving sized package and that too extremely rarely.
    @ThresherK: Prosperous Indians and Chinese love American junk food and are getting fatter.

  7. 7
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Tweety just offered his services to the Clinton ’16 campaign, and his tongue was not in his cheek. IIRC there were stories that he lobbied for the press secretary’s job in Bubba’s second term.

  8. 8
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: So I never buy them except in 1 serving sized package and that too extremely rarely.

    Me too. Pretty much any bag is a single serving, so I only buy the small bags, once or twice a month and only if I’ve already worked out that day.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    @Anthony: It’s coming. I expect that one of the applications of domestic drones will be dropping Cheeto bombs.

  10. 10
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    Just don’t fuck with my double filet o fish. Damn damn why do I like it so much?

  11. 11
    Gozer says:

    Chilli-Cheese Fritos and a Dr. Pepper…the best worst thing to eat…besides poutine (especially duck fat poutine).

  12. 12
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Prosperous Indians and Chinese love American junk food and are getting fatter.

    Pax Snax Americana pacifies the globe, one fanny too-fat-to-fight at a time.

  13. 13
    Jay in Oregon says:

    This is timely, as I was diagnosed as pre-hypertension on my birthday.

    I’ve been cutting out the junk food and fast food, getting more exercise (which my dogs, as my walking buddies, can’t complain too much about) and drinking more water. In the past two months I’ve dropped 25 pounds.

    At my last checkup, my doctor recommended checking out the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) which is based on a study that comes to many of the same conclusions; that processed foods contribute to obesity and high blood pressure.

  14. 14
    gbear says:

    This is why I never have potato chips in my house.

    Color 23 must be combined with Syrup 11 and Packaging 6

    For me the most addictive treat is Oreo cookies, but they wrecked the packaging part of it when they went to those peel back packages. You have to wrestle the cookies out of the package before the flap falls back and blocks your access.

    Edit: Diet Coke is my single worst addiction. You can’t quit when it’s literally around every corner.

  15. 15
    Barbara says:

    Trader Joe’s Baked Cheese Crunchies have reduced fat from 9 to 6 grams per serving. With only 7% sodium, 0% cholesterol and 2 grams of protein per serving, they practically grab me by the ankles as I saunter down the chip aisle at TJs. I have been known to use them as croutons in spinach salad. I’m ashamed but my mouth is day-glow orange – so there’s that!

  16. 16
    Keith says:

    Potato chips with clam dip is one of my favorite guilty pleasures

  17. 17
    JKormac says:

    @Gretchen D:

    Potato chips, french fries and cheetos – I never buy any of them

    +1 That’s the secret. They are easier to resist on the supermarket shelves than anywhere else. So put them on the do-not-buy list.

  18. 18
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Barbara: Trader Joe is filled with junk food landmines that sound healthy but are not, if you analyze the calorie content.

  19. 19
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Another thing that works, measuring everything you eat and writing it down. Do that 5 days a week and give yourself a break once a week.

  20. 20
    ThresherK says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I hadn’t thought about that particular pivot. Isn’t that a recurring theme, of people who are well off enough to aspire to Western ways and pig out, while the starving lower “castes” can’t?

    In this country, of course, malnutrition no longer means “not enough food” but “too much bad food” and it affects more poor people because of externalities of time and money which greatly favor middle-class suburbanites like me.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to look up a recipe to make my own Twinkies. They’re guaranteed to be better than the real thing.

    @Barbara: I’m ashamed but my mouth is day-glow orange – so there’s that!

    Isn’t that why they invented “white cheddar” variety anything, so we wouldn’t have the Day-Glo Crumbs of Shame on our faces?

  21. 21
    MattF says:

    As long as people are mentioning positive things, I’ll note that Classico bottled tomato sauces have no added sugar. And they taste good too.

  22. 22
    lectric lady says:

    So what’s next? Is someone gonna tell me that a carton of French Onion Dip is not 1 serving of vegetables?

  23. 23
    dedc79 says:

    I can only assume that Snyders honey mustard and onion pretzel pieces are laced with cocaine.

  24. 24
    David in NY says:

    When we were kids we never had pop, or soda if you prefer, in the house. Never. Or potato chips. Maybe a bag of cookies once a week. We couldn’t afford this stuff (it was said). If we had a little money and were out by ourselves, we could buy it. And I did sometimes, but not often, because I’d learned I didn’t need the stuff, much of it actually didn’t taste very good, and I could spend my money on something else.

    And when I married and had kids, we ran the house the same way. And our kids are pretty trim and healthy. And that’s all it takes.

  25. 25
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @ThresherK: India has a diabetes epidemic. The amount of sugar in Indian sweets is phenomenal. So one can’t just blame the American junk food.

  26. 26
    Barbara says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I know. I was making a tortured reach. Thanks for caring.

    PS This is strange. When I log in here my usual handle is BarbCat. This time it’s just Barbara, and I didn’t need to log in. Hmmmm.

  27. 27
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    There is NO PERIOD in Dr Pepper, FFS!

  28. 28
    Citizen Alan says:


    I’m surprised they haven’t found a way to weaponize this yet.

    You’re assuming they haven’t and we are the intended targets.

  29. 29
    ThresherK says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Okay. I’ll take your word for it. All I know of Indian food personally is what’s come into the Yankee suburbs and cities as of late, and an Asian market here and there.

  30. 30
    JGabriel says:

    Speaking of addictive salty foods: Ikea Withdraws Meatballs After Horse Meat Is Found.

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Jay in Oregon: I’ve been on the DASH for six months and have managed to drop 35 pounds and get my hypertension down so that the doctor is pleased. I’m fairly pleased, although I am bad about it when I go out to dinner on Saturdays. It is not possible to be on it and eat out without making the whole meal about working the diet. But still six days out of seven isn’t bad.

    The diet itself is easy. After awhile, normal food tastes really salty.

  32. 32
    JWL says:

    Way Off Topic: Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has died. The man did the nation yeoman service by addressing the AIDS epidemic in adult terms, despite the fact he was an evangelical Christian and assumed office as an appointee of a homophobic administration (and party). RIP.

  33. 33
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @ThresherK: Linkie for you about diabetes in India.

  34. 34
    gab says:

    Not that I buy it, but what’s wrong with Prego tomato sauce?

  35. 35
    Suffern ACE says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Yep. The whole point of the food is to cram sugar, salt and fat into small volumes, which are often confused with small portions. It is the land of sweatened condensed milk and butter. They do some amazing things with sweetened condensed milk, which should be its own food group.

  36. 36
    R-Jud says:


    Diet Coke is my single worst addiction. You can’t quit when it’s literally around every corner.

    I finally dumped my 15-year-old Diet Coke addiction this past year by switching to cold seltzer. (This can be a problematic substitution for some people if the sodium content is high.)

    It helps that I no longer regularly eat the kind of things I would pair DC with, like chips, pretzels, takeout Chinese food, pizza, and what have you. Still, when we had a pizza last weekend I didn’t even think about getting a Diet Coke to go with it.

  37. 37
    MattF says:

    @gab: Added sugar.

  38. 38
    WereBear says:

    Fortunately, I’ve never been fond of soda, or sweet drinks in general. Once you start making less-sweet choices, things like unsweetened yogurt and berries are plenty sweet enough.

  39. 39
    pat says:

    Peanut butter. Can not leave it alone. Best when slathered on a pat of butter on a saltine. I do not buy peanut butter.

    Potato chips with sour cream. No not in my house.

    There was a story on PBS a few weeks ago about the epidemic of tooth decay in kids in I think it was Colombia because they suddenly have access to processed foods and have never had to learn proper dental hygeine.

    Read The Omnivore’s Dilemma for the story of high-fructose corn syrup. I don’t buy anything that contains it.

  40. 40
    RareSanity says:

    The starch, in turn, causes the glucose levels in the blood to spike” — which can result in a craving for more…

    Hell, just reading that sentence made we want some potato chips…

    Good thing the wife won’t allow them in the house, or I might be on a bender right now.

  41. 41
    danielx says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Salt and vinegar kettle chips are an invention of the devil. Not as addictive as crystal meth, but the weight gain is hell. Fortunately my only weakness for soft drinks is a ginger ale about once a month. Spouse and daughter both are addicted to diet sodas, unfortunately…

    On a broader topic, rain tomorrow and snow off and on every following day this week. I’m getting tired of winter.

  42. 42
    Jay C says:

    Speaking of diet soft drinks, I couldn’t help but notice that one their most visible spokespeople has reportedly been hospitalized for some undisclosed reason.

    Too much Diet Pepsi? I’m sure we’ll never find out…..

  43. 43
    beltane says:

    There is no reason for anyone to be buying tomato sauce in a jar when it is just as easy, much cheaper, and infinitely more tasty to make it yourself.

    Also, going grocery shopping on a full stomach eliminates whatever temptation is presented by processed food.

  44. 44
    Rex Everything says:

    Anne Laurie has been posting great stuff lately. Thanks, AL.

  45. 45
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: and then there’s the things that are obviously not good for you that my wife buys anyway-like their sea salt brownies. Which last approximately 30 seconds once the package has been opened.

  46. 46
    ruemara says:

    Hm. I never was allowed soda as a kid, but on occasion could have a ginger ale. Now I can only have a diet soda and I limit myself to max of one a day. Hanson’s has a really nice range of nothing too bad no sodium no caffeine sodas. And while it’s nice to believe that salt causes hypertension, let’s just say that for some of us, hypertension is a big wtf to you, and your doctor. For me, crack is the local food co-ops tofu cashew spread and a nice array of Annies Naturals White Cheddar Bunnies. I miss eating starches. I would kill you for a baked potato with some pepper and a bit of butter.

  47. 47
    Eric U. says:

    Single serving bags of potato chips have something like 300 calories, which is more than a typical lunch for me. Similarly, I was really surprised that it’s really easy to eat 600 calories worth of peanut butter. I actually have lost a lot of weight since I discovered that about peanut butter.

  48. 48
    Barbara says:

    @R-Jud: I love 2/3rds Pellegrino with 1/3rd fresh-squeezed OJ in place of all the booze and soda I no longer drink. Pellegrino is a worthy indulgence as sodium is bad for Mr. Barbara’s (aka Jud) blood pressure.

  49. 49
    beltane says:

    @David in NY: I do notice that a 2 liter bottle of soda costs about the same now as it did in the late 1980s which is around the last time I bought the stuff. Why is that?

  50. 50
    hitchhiker says:

    In my growing-up house there was ALWAYS a collection of two-liter bottles of sugared pop in the fridge. Orange Crush, Squirt, Coke, Root Beer. ALWAYS. I had 7 siblings. Two are gone, died in their 50s. One is grossly overweight (>100 pounds) and has diabetes. Another 3 are about 50 pounds overweight.

    My sister and I are in the normal range, and as far as I can tell, the main thing we’ve done differently is never to buy that stuff, much less down a quart or so every single day, which they all still do.

    Also too, we both have dogs, and we both take them out for daily long walks, so maybe it’s the combination.

  51. 51
    MattF says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut: Chocolate is good for you, mostly. And TJ’s sells bars of Valrhona, so they have ascended to the higher spheres, chocolate-wise, and may not be criticized.

  52. 52
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @JWL: Not at all-just have to go to a higher level of abstraction. But this thread is about public health.

  53. 53
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @MattF: I will accept your comment uncritically and use it to rationalize my excessive brownie consumption.

    If you want to take advantage of me, this is my kryptonite:

    I hear that dark chocolate is good for you though…

  54. 54
    maurinsky says:

    Several years ago I decided to really limit junk food, and I kind of lost the taste for most of it, but every now and then I get a massive craving for McDonald’s french fries.

  55. 55
    jibeaux says:

    I’m weird because I really don’t like regular potato chips. Doritos, yes, those are toxically addicting. For salt cravings, I like kale chips that I make, or trader joer’s wasabi seaweed snack. Like eating a yummy leaf.

  56. 56
    WaterGIrl says:

    @beltane: I generally agree with that statement, but I do buy Elena’s Arrabbiata sauce. It’s very spicy and it’s definitely better than anything I can make, and I’m generally a pretty good cook.

    It comes close to meeting my 5-ingredient rule — whole plum tomatoes, crushed plum tomatoes, onions, olive oil, fresh garlic, herbs, salt and citric acid.

  57. 57
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    @beltane: I think they make all their money off of those 20 oz bottles in vending machines (I’ve seen between 1.25-1.75 recently in vending machines in different northeastern cities.

  58. 58
    Tonal Crow says:

    This topic (and nearly everything else in American culture) brings to mind the old saw “Everything in moderation”.

  59. 59
    Freemark says:

    @dedc79: Snyder’s caramel pretzel pieces are incredible. Luckily you can only get them from their outlet as they are currently only made for the Japanese market. Fortunately/Unfortunately I live in snack food capital of the US, York County, PA

  60. 60
    kindness says:

    So I went skiing yesterday up at Bear Valley here in N. Cal. My better half and I commented to each other a couple times riding up the chair lift about just how many skiers had helmets on that had those cameras on them. We decided it was a YouTube generation thing where you not only tell your people you went skiing, you actually show them. It left me thinking that that is similar to the friend who insists on showing you their vacation slides (now also digital).

    It used to be that memories were our minds picture travel log. Now days, not so much. Curious that people would want to document every such thing they do.

  61. 61
    WereBear says:

    @Tonal Crow: “Everything in moderation”

    The problem is the blood sugar spikes mentioned in the article. If my blood sugar crashes I’ll eat the cupboard door off the hinges. I’m that crazy hungry.

    And since I loathe that feeling, I pretty much avoid “food” which does that to me; processed foods are the worst offenders. Everything is pre-ground up and it’s like mainlining glucose directly into a vein.

    If a person can do moderation, good on ya! But some things are better off abstained from.

  62. 62
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    We often hear that politics are so nasty because those damn Democrats were so mean to that paragon of justice, Robert Bork

    Holy Crap
    In a postumous memoir Robert Bork says President Nixon promised him an appointment to the Supreme Court after complying with Nixon’s demand to fire Archibald Cox.
    Josh Marshal

    Thanks again, St Ronnie, for peeing in our national pool.

  63. 63
    RedKitten says:

    Fortunately, when it comes to pop and sweets, I can take them or leave them alone. Ice cream often goes sandy in our freezer.

    Chips, however? I adore chips. Miss Vickie’s Lime & Black Pepper flavour turns me into a possessive she-wolf, but regular sour cream ‘n’ onion Ruffles will do nicely in a pinch.

  64. 64
    JWL says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut: Way On Topic: Re-read what I wrote.

  65. 65
    Robin G. says:

    @hitchhiker: The single worst thing out there is soda. It’s basically just poison in a bottle. But it was also the easiest weight-loss move I ever made — lost ten pounds by kicking the habit, making absolutely no other changes to diet or lifestyle.

  66. 66
    mclaren says:

    If this junk food is so tremendously addictive, why can’t I stand to eat it?

    Why do I cook all my own food?

    What haven’t I patronized a fast food joint in years?

    Most bottled sodas taste like shoe polish. Most fast food meals taste like salty cardboard. If you want good food, use fresh ingredients and cook it yourself. If you want a tasty drink, make your own lemonade from fresh-squeezed lemons.

    Something sounds wrong with this “addictive” fairytale. Most of the people I know don’t eat at fast food restaurants and can’t stand sickly-sweet sodas filled with toxic additives.

  67. 67
    RedKitten says:


    If you want a tasty drink, make your own lemonade from fresh-squeezed lemons.

    Not to disparage real food, ’cause I’m all for it. But dude…I don’t have time to squeeze lemons. Sometimes convenience foods are a necessity.

  68. 68
    maurinsky says:

    I think if you get away from eating it, you recover your ability to taste real food – if you’re tasting all this fat, sugar, salt all the time I think it harms your ability to perceive the flavor of food that isn’t full of fat, sugar and salt.

  69. 69
    coin operated says:


    Diet Coke is my single worst addiction. You can’t quit when it’s literally around every corner.

    This. Possibly the most convenient caffeine-delivery mechanism out there…faster and easier than even a Keurig coffee maker…and arguably the worst for your health. To get completely off Diet Coke I had to swear off all caffeinated substances, period.

    I hope you can get this nasty substance out of your life.

  70. 70
    gbear says:

    If this junk food is so tremendously addictive, why can’t I stand to eat it?
    Why do I cook all my own food?
    What haven’t I patronized a fast food joint in years?

    Because something is wrong with you. SASQ. ;)

  71. 71
    Darkrose says:

    I don’t drink much Coke–maybe 2-3 cans a week–but having been diagnosed with diabetes, I guess I’m going to have to give it up. Unfortunately, I can’t drink diet because aspartame gives me migraines, and I have to have caffeine or–I get migraines.

    The thing I’m really bummed about is that I love bread.

  72. 72
    bemused says:

    Once in awhile I get a craving for a pepsi or coke. Then I’m usually don’t want anymore after a half a can. If I drink more than that, I’m suddenly thirsty not long later.

    I do like carbonation so I will add sparkling water to a little fruit juice.

    Anyone notice how bad brand name or store brand hamburger/hot dog buns smell? I buy bakery hamb buns because they taste better. I didn’t notice the smell of those factory buns until I was at a graduation party. What is that smell? Preservatives? Whatever it is really reeks. Now I can detect cheapo buns from a couple of feet away.

  73. 73
    lojasmo says:


    Don’t fuck with my poutine.

    Frankly, I’ve ever only had it once, on bainbridge island this summer, and will probably never have it again.

  74. 74
    g says:

    @RedKitten: You know how long it takes to squeeze lemons? About 30 seconds. Give me a break.

    What takes a longer time is to buy the lemons and have them around when you need them.

  75. 75
    steverino says:

    @Darkrose: I have found that my morning coffee elevates my blood sugar. Due, the doc says, to the liver pumping out glucose in response to the caffeine– same as with adrenaline. I’m down to a morning starter cup or two, and then decaf e the rest of the day. Takes getting used to.

  76. 76
    Anne Laurie says:


    I do notice that a 2 liter bottle of soda costs about the same now as it did in the late 1980s which is around the last time I bought the stuff. Why is that?

    HFCS is heavily subsidized by your tax dollars — that’s why every major soda maker switched from cane sugar in the 1980s. AS I understand it, the major artificial sweeteners are also very very cheap in industrial quantities; some years ago, I remember an article in a business magazine saying that Coke spent more on their plastic bottles than on the water + chemical mixtures inside them, and bottles were cheap.

    Grocery stores tend to use brand-name sodas as loss leaders. Some of that is because Coke & Pepsi can afford to offer major discounts to the retailers in return for shelf visibility. But part of it is that some families really do treat a particular soda as a ‘staple’, so the store can lure a shopper to do their big weekly grocery run by offering cut-rate Diet Coke or Dr Pepper, and still profit on the hamburger, chicken breasts, milk & of course snack food!

  77. 77
    Anne Laurie says:


    It used to be that memories were our minds picture travel log. Now days, not so much. Curious that people would want to document every such thing they do.

    People who could afford it have always brought home pictoral souvenirs, going back to the Crusades. One of the reasons woodblock printing technology took off was that someone who’d saved up all their lives for a pilgrimage wanted to bring back ‘holy cards’ with a smudgy drawing of their favorite saint that had been blessed right in the holy city. Earlier pilgrims came back with scraps of vegetation or bits of cloth dipped in sacred fountains, but with a holy card, you got “proof” that you’d actually seen the place with your very own eyes.

    Same thing happened with lithographs of the Great Tour in the 1700s, and chromoliths in the mid-1800s (Mark Twain has some wonderful snark about those), and ‘brownie’ cameras in the early 1900s. For the sake of the landscape, I’d much rather people bring back helmetcam footage (or buy scenic DVDs) than chop up monuments to prove that ‘they were there’!

  78. 78
    Anne Laurie says:


    Most of the people I know don’t eat at fast food restaurants and can’t stand sickly-sweet sodas filled with toxic additives.

    How nice for you, Ms. Kael.

  79. 79
    JoyceH says:

    I just skimmed the article, will read in more detail later, but they didn’t even address what I consider to be probably the biggest problem with processed foods, and that’s the MSG. MSG, hidden under a variety of names, is in 80% of processed foods – and it’s the exact thing that scientists use when they are doing an experiment that calls for fat mice. In order to make the mice fat, they give them MSG. MSG is supposedly used as a ‘flavor enhancer’, but in fact it is an ‘excitotoxin’ – it acts on the brain and makes you want to eat more.

  80. 80
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Jeez, can’t remember the last time I had a soda (or pop, if you prefer.) Other than, of course (ahem) tonic water. But that’s for medicinal purposes. You won’t see me coming down with malaria. No sir.

  81. 81
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @lojasmo: Bainbridge Island isn’t in Quebec, so it doesn’t count. You’ve never had poutine, in other words.

  82. 82
    Darkrose says:

    @steverino: Huh. That would certainly explain why my random glucose was so high, since I’d finished my second cup of coffee right before going in. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

  83. 83
    muddy says:

    @Darkrose: I heard that cinnamon in the coffee evens that out. Not sure if it is scientific, but it tastes good anyway.

  84. 84
    Djur says:

    @JoyceH: Japan and SE Asia have very high-glutamate diets, and they don’t have the same dietary problems we in the US have. Excitotoxicity involves much, much higher amounts of glutamic acid than is present in any food.

  85. 85
    Tehanu says:

    The problem I have with all this “that stuff is bad for you” blather is … where does it end? Kage Baker’s Company books are set in a world where the Food Grundys have triumphed and ingesting meat, sugar, salt, alcohol, or chocolate are crimes punishable by imprisonment, fines, and “therapy.” After all, if you were really “sane,” why would you eat or drink things that might shorten your life in 40 or 50 years? This is not a world I want to live in.

    It also reminds me of something a British acquaintance told me. He’d been out shooting grouse or pheasants or something, and upon being asked by an American woman why he could slaughter those poor little birds, replied, “Because, madam, they’re delicious.”

  86. 86
    Rex Everything says:

    @Tehanu: Yeah, there’s just no room for a sane middle ground between record diabetes/obesity and your anti-chocolate totalitarian nightmare.

    Just like seatbelts have turned us all into Eloi, and gay marriage is even now causing rampant bestiality.

  87. 87
    Gozer says:

    @lojasmo: I always eat it when I go to northern New England. I especially love the duckfat poutine at…Duckfat in Portland, ME.

  88. 88
    JCR says:

    @Darkrose: I’ve heard sourdough bread doesn’t create the same blood suger issues as other types (something to do with the fermentation process), which makes me happy b/c that is, for me, the most addictive food ever invented. Is a high-grade sourdough out of the question for you?

  89. 89
    JCR says:

    @muddy: Cinnamon supplements do help with spikes in blood sugar–some diabetics can even substitute it for their regular meds. Oddly enough, the pills work better than the spice form.

  90. 90
    Cassidy says:

    1) Eat what you want in moderation.
    2) Exercise daily
    3) Obesity problem solved.

  91. 91
    Duff Clarity says:

    Just for future reference, what is considered a moderate amount of Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos?

  92. 92
    Cassidy says:

    @Duff Clarity: Well, you should be happy you’re eating a food you like and not chemically induced happy because you ate so many and the food binge triggered a brain chemical response.

  93. 93
    Anne Laurie says:


    The problem I have with all this “that stuff is bad for you” blather is … where does it end?

    With honesty / transparency / education, I would hope. Right now the balance is tipped so that corporations don’t have to be up front about what makes their products ‘irresistable’ — like that cup of sugar in your serving of Prego, or the various ‘other ingredients’ like MSG that are safe (n moderation) for most people, or the antibiotics that made the pig behind your pork loin bulk up faster & cheaper but are also contributing to global MRSA resistance in humans.

    I’m from the generation that grew up with ‘improved’ convenient jarred baby foods that were laced with extra salt & sugar, for palatability (to our moms, tasting them before feeding us). My taste buds are permanently adjusted for additive overkill. Baby food companies don’t do that any more — even if it were legal, the internet would expose them overnight, and no high-dollar parents would go near anything from that company again. There’s lots more that can (should) be done to let consumers know what we’re eating, without getting into food banning.

    I chose not to drink, for instance, because I don’t need the calories and my family history suggests alcohol moderation is not in my geneset. But I don’t care if other adults, even people I love & care about, choose to drink (immoderately or not — as long as they’re not driving while under the influence).

    (P.S. They will pry my sour-cream-and-onion potato chips out of my cold, dead hands… probably right after a fatal heart attack, but at least I won’t kill anyone else at the same time!)

  94. 94
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @dedc79: True story.

  95. 95
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Are you sure it’s milk sugar in gulabs or whatever and not the widespread replacement of ghee with hydrogenated vegetable oil which wreaks absolute havok on your innards?

    Big heart disease and hypertension problem ballooning in India, and we know the role that trans fats play in heart disease.

  96. 96
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @ruemara: One third of humans have salt linked blood pressure, like me. 2/3rds don’t, like you.

  97. 97
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Anne Laurie: Actually, brand name soda went up in price for a while as Americans were buying more and more of it (vs generic). Then, like with the breakfast cereals, the bull market cratered, and the name brands have had to come down on price. Sodas are especially in trouble as they saturated the market only to have people blaming them for every health problem under the sun. If name brand soda could still command the price premium it once did, they would do so. Right now they are struggling to jump into other bottled drink sectors.

  98. 98

    @mclaren: THIS THIS THIS.

    Don’t eat shit, you won’t feel like shit.

  99. 99
    Cassidy says:

    If you want good food, use fresh ingredients and cook it yourself. If you want a tasty drink, make your own lemonade from fresh-squeezed lemons.

    This is the kind of horseshit response from people that pisses me off. Most families have neither the time or money to do this. Fresh vegetables and local meat and all that other stuff is not cheap. And, with most parents working, sometimes 2 jobs, when are they supposed to do allthis cooking? On the day(s) they get during the week to actually spend time with their children and SO’s?

    This kind of glib shit doesn’t even come close to addressing the damn issue, “uh, well, if you just ate fresh vegetables and cooked everything and don’t eat dinner until 8pm, and stay up doing dishes, we’d all be healthier”.

  100. 100
    Rex Everything says:


    Most families have neither the time or money to do this. Fresh vegetables and local meat and all that other stuff is not cheap. And, with most parents working, sometimes 2 jobs, when are they supposed to do allthis cooking? On the day(s) they get during the week to actually spend time with their children and SO’s?

    Not only that, but you can’t get good ingredients in most low-income neighborhoods. The stores don’t sell them. You’re stuck with Wonder Bread, hormone-rich milk, and the worst meat and produce available unless you have time to do your grocery shopping in the nearest rich neighborhood, which you don’t.

  101. 101
    Cassidy says:

    @Rex Everything: We’d do better to focus on getting people active and burning calories than being food purists.

  102. 102
    Rex Everything says:

    @Cassidy: I agree with AL that the goal should be a combination of honesty, transparency, and education. I don’t think striving for these amounts to “food purism.”

    Physical fitness is certainly important but it’s a different subject.

  103. 103
    Cassidy says:

    @Rex Everything: I don’t disagree with that either. By “food purism” I mean the only eat fresh vegetables, buy local meat, don’t shop at grocery stores, etc. crowd. Those are definitely good practices, but the average family can’t afford that.

    AAMOF, I looked into transitioning, slowly, my family to more paleo style eating. Now, my wife and I both work and we make a decent income, but there was now way I could afford that style of diet. A friend of mine tried the same thing for a family of 4 (smaller than mine) and was paying $300 a week for groceries. You can cut costs buy going tot he flea market/ farmer’s market for veggies, but meat is going to cost you.

    I dont think they’re seperate issues, but related to the overall same problem. We are a country of overeaters. Our processed food, while convenient and cheap, is full of bad stuff, and as we’ve discussed, healthier alternatives are not in line with your typical American household. So, using my family as an example, we do cook most nights and we eat dinner around 7pm. We don’t always use “fresh” ingredients, but we do when possible; I make my own spaghetti sauce, etc. We’ve cut out most of the junk and snacks, but we still use processed, convenient foods. Again, not every night, but probably a third of the week. I think we’re pretty typical in that we have made efforts to eat healthier, as a family, but reality dictates certain things. So, if it’s a given that a family is going to eat some things that are just not healthy and it’s unlikely to change, the alternative is to move and burn calories. We chose our kids daycare specifically for the amount of physical activity they do. I can’t help but use some less than optimal ingredients to feed my family, but at least they exercise.

    If your output exceeds your input, you’ll be fine.

  104. 104
    Jay in Oregon says:

    Actually, that’s what I do. I pick two or three recipes that make plenty of food and cook them on the weekend, then eat the leftovers throughout the week. Slow-cookers and crock pots help.

    I have about two hours a night to myself during the week, and at least an hour of that is feeding and walking my dogs.

    There are plenty of easy-to-prepare recipes that don’t cost a fortune. I think some people look at cooking shows and foodie blogs and think that good food has to use expensive or exotic-sounding ingredients.

  105. 105
    Chet says:

    Those assholes! Food should taste like shit, so that nobody buys it. Obviously.

  106. 106
    The Golux says:

    @Jay in Oregon: As a fairly recently diagnosed (6+ years) Type I diabetic, the DASH diet sounds a lot like what I eat. When you have to be constantly aware of your carbohydrate intake, you quickly realize that pasta, rice and potatoes are really just filler.

    The only things that test my self control are thin crust (New Haven style) pizza, and home fries.

  107. 107
    Cassidy says:

    @Jay in Oregon: We tend to do the same thing as well and Iuse my crock pot religiously. Many people don’t have that option.

  108. 108
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Cassidy: I think both are important, eating well and being active. I do my grocery shopping at a local family owned supermarket and also at a store operated by a huge corporation.
    I mainly try not to buy processed foods, use frozen veggies when the fresh ones are too expensive, like in winter. I also try to do most of my cooking on the weekend. I also have cut onions, chopped garlic in the fridge so I can make a meal fairly quickly if I have to. I also have a well stocked pantry. It takes a lot of effort and planning to eat well. I do understand that what I do would not be accessible to people who don’t have a car or a well equipped kitchen.

  109. 109
    Original Lee says:

    @Cassidy: My daughter’s Girl Scout troop is doing a project right now where they have to prepare a day’s worth of meals for four people using only WIC items and on a food stamp budget. The first piece of the experiment was just to prepare a meal using only WIC foods, and they were able to make a lot of tasty stuff. Now comes the hard part – staying on budget. They (and the parents) are learning a lot about food supply issues.

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