Oct 24, 2021

Book Review: Salt Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us by Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

Having been researching packaged foods and their ingredients for the past 5+ years, this book was meant to come to my attention one way or another. Thanks to a friend, I came across this book "Salt Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us" a few months back and I knew I had to read it to understand the history and evolution of processed foods in the US. 

The book is divided into three sections - a section each for Salt, Sugar, and Fat - the three essential pillars of processed foods. It has been a fascinating and eye-opening read with multiple takeaways. I stumbled upon many new terminologies - bliss point, sensory-specific satiety, vanishing calorie density, stomach share, etc. I also learned about the multiple roles of these three ingredients apart from their obvious role of taste. 

The author has taken the effort to go deeper into the two aspects that make processed foods addictive - formulation and marketing. He has provided multiple examples and case studies that reiterate the importance of these two aspects.

My main motivation to read this book was to gather some insights on how the product and marketing strategy of processed food manufacturers would play out in India in the near future. The anti-obesity campaign, the related regulations, and pressure from different groups kicked off sometime in the 1980s in the United States. We are still quite far from that stage in India. In the next few years, we might see a proliferation of new product categories - frozen pizzas, more cheese-based snacks, meal replacement drinks, etc.

The narrative of this book follows a documentary style of writing, that does tend to become a little dragging at times. Nevertheless, it helps to unravel a lot more behind-the-scenes details that are involved in the research, design, manufacturing, and marketing of processed foods. The not-so-surprising fact that gets reiterated is that almost all those who are involved in these different departments of processed food companies never bother to include their creations in their diets. It is only us, convenience-seeking consumers who become scapegoats in this large-scale collaboration and experimentation of food and pharma companies. 

Do pick up this book if you are interested to know more about food science and the history of processed foods. The context is set in the US though. For someone like me who has never lived in the US, I wasn't able to *get* the finer details about the big brands.

Oct 4, 2021

Book Review: The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson

 For the past couple of years, I have been reading Mark Manson's blog and his newsletter regularly. His content resonates with me at a deeper level - harsh, hard-hitting truths with no beating around the bush. His article "The attention diet" was so thought-provoking.

His books have been on my reading list for quite some time. As I keep reiterating, a book comes to you at the right time when you are ready to receive its contents. There couldn't have been a better time than now to read his book "The subtle art of not giving a f*ck".

I found answers to many questions that I had been grappling with, in this book.

I have heard of this statement "You are responsible for everything that happens in your life" in multiple forums. I could never come to terms with the explanations I heard in the past. Thanks to Mark Manson, I understood the true essence of this statement, and boy, it gave me goosebumps. I shall write an elaborate post on this soon.

The writing style is casual, easy to read, yet speaks about deeper issues in such powerful language, leaving the reader a lot to munch on.

My highlighter was used to the fullest, as I was underlining pretty much the entire book🙂 It is hard to pick 5-6 favorite passages, but let me give it a try:

"Finding something important and meaningful in your life is perhaps the most productive use of your time and energy. Because if you don't find that meaningful something, your f*cks will be given to meaningless and frivolous causes."

"Like physical pain, our psychological pain is an indication of something out of equilibrium, some limitation that has been exceeded."

"Negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it's because you are supposed to do something. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are rewards for taking the proper action."

"Technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems. The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurity, self-doubt, and shame."

"The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it"

"Our most radical changes in perspective often happen at the tail end of our worst moments. It's only when we feel intense pain that we're willing to look at our values and question why they seem to be failing us."

"Death is the light by which the shadow of all of life's meaning is measured."

It isn't the usual run-of-the-mill self-development book with the standard template, that makes you feel good. This book will make you uncomfortable, question you at a deeper level, and leave you with a lasting impact. I don't want to spoil the read any further. Pick it up no matter what stage of life you are in.

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