The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Inside the hyperengineered, savagely marketed, addiction-creating battle for American “stomach share.”
Read the full story »

In describing Capitalism, Edward Abbey wrote accurately that "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell." But it's not clear what other ideology is available.

193 2018-09-30 15:50:54 - Jon Davis

Stop with the bull on educating poor people. The nutritional education given in most schools today is laughable at best. Poor or otherwise. Poor people get priced out of good food choices because for the moment its a yuppie trend. When REAL food becomes mainstream again then all will benefit. Poor people are not stupid. They are just angry because YOU think they are.

11 2018-02-17 07:42:17 - Bastqueen

Ceilidth: I have purchased these apples you speak of. They seem to go off very quickly and don't last a week. I end up throwing some of them out, They cost about as much per apple (that I eat) as the single apples, and the single apples taste better.

We just ate salmon for dinner. Wild. Expensive. You can buy cheap salmon, but it isn't very good for you.

Eating healthy is expensive. End of story. Talk about rice and beans and packaged apples all you want. It's silly. A lifetime of eating healthy foods, for a normal person who likes a variety, is much more expensive than eating processed foods--especially when the grocery stores has coupons for packaged foods and not for fresh.

4 2018-01-07 06:59:49 - Elaine

JB, actually americans are NOT living so long compared to other countries and we're not healthier. we're pretty low on the list, in fact. last place among developed countries, something to be proud of

and please tell me what you mean by this: "Ever seen the ingredients list on a tomato?" actually i haven't- EVER! i believe that tomatoes contain, uh- tomatoes. i'd make sure to pick the best locally grown in season tomatoes so i could enjoy the flavor, instead of the stupid pale orange styrofoam balls picked by slaves in florida. but still, i'm pretty sure even those "tomatoes" just contain tomatoes

ok, your liver is good at cleaning up the mess you've eaten. add to that the pharmaceuticals you take because you've gotten yourself so unhealthy. at a certain point, even the best liver craps out, can't take it anymore. why would you want to knowingly overburden it?

and you expect us to be relieved because "most dangerous chemicals right back out into the world via the toilet"? nice! maybe we package them up and sell them to a 3rd world country as in not in my backyard, outta sight, outta mind. don't you think you drink those chemicals right back?

1 2017-10-24 20:20:11 - carolyn

try democratic socialism

21 2017-07-26 09:19:06 - Eric Margolis

Thank you for this wonderful article. What the food industry is doing is evil and unconscionable. We must call a spade a spade. Ruining the health and well-being of the population deliberately so that they can rake in billions of dollars is not less than evil.

I'm going to send this excellent piece to my college-age children. Education and Science are supposed to be good for us, but perhaps we should teach Ethics and Morality with it as well. These scientists and technicians manipulating the public this way use their education in the most immoral way. Mr. Sanger's own family, his grandchildren, will not TOUCH the lunchables he created.

Society falls apart, sooner or later, when we cease caring for each other,

33 2017-07-25 10:38:36 - Osunwoman

Rhea: your guests are being polite. If you were a fly on the wall when you are out the room, they are probably gagging on the taste of your flavorless unsalted foods.

Sorry, but I grew up in a big Hungarian family, where all the women were AMAZING scratch cooks and it is impossible to cook these dishes properly with no salt. It is an essential ingredient -- not excesses of salt, but an appropriate amount.

1 2017-07-16 13:57:33 - Concerned Citizen

i'm sure that the confusing sugar labeling is quite deliberate. a lot of lobbyists greased a lot of palms to get that in effect

1 2017-07-06 11:12:45 - carolyn

Biochemically, there is almost no difference between HFCS and cane sugar. As you mention, it is THE INCREASE in the production of HFCS that has allowed sweetened foods and beverages to continue to be sold cheaply and is a primary cause of the obesity epidemic in this country.

6 2017-07-01 23:20:36 - Larry Greenberg

Good for you that you were able to do that.

I had to cut out sugar as much as possible a little over a year ago, because it was giving me horrible heartburn. Like sit up all night, hurt all the next day heartburn. I had a real sweet tooth and it was hard, but pain avoidance is a great motivator. I can have just a few bites of chocolate candy and I'll be in pain by evening. (I did get checked out - no H. pylori or gall bladder or pancreas problems.) It was really hard even with that motivation, but as time went on it got easier. For you, just realizing you had an addiction and being able to stop for that reason, that's really impressive.

BTW - when I "need" chocolate, I eat a teaspoon or so of powdered cocoa. Yes, it's bitter, but it delivers the theobromine.

1 2017-06-26 19:56:06 - Laura

What I don't understand is how consumers can read an article like this and understand the logic and reasoning behind the criticisms of junk food, but yet they still remain loyal consumers.

Answer? Laziness.

As you can see, some of your commenters want to blame someone else for their decision to eat bad stuff. It's always someone else's fault. Just go into the store, buy healthy food, and eat it. But why don't people do that? They're too lazy to cook a simple meal. What other possible answer could exist?

2 2017-06-22 08:51:56 - Mountain Hermit

Agreed - just like they're forcing us to eat genetically modified foods - with no choice in the matter whatsoever, Tara. How do you suggest we deal with that?

0 2017-06-19 21:39:44 - Marcia

As someone who lived in the North Country for a very long time and then moved to the NYC metro area, you may not be looking in the right places. There's an abundance of organic vegetables and other produce in the area. I'd suggest the Potsdam Food Co-Op in your quest for good cheese, unrefined foods, and good olive oil.

3 2017-06-12 13:57:58 - Osman

The food marketers just walked into a void. Before things like lunchables began, people sat down together for a long lunch (called dinner) then. Fathers worked and children went to school close enough to the home to meet there for the day's big meal And breakfasts were big enough to get you through until this early afternoon meal.

9 2017-06-02 15:48:39 - davidraph

actually, i don't think food companies respond to demand. did anyone "demand" 21 flavors of Lays potato chips? no

these companies create demand. it's not food to them. they are doing battle for your dollars and they've enlisted all the high priced, state of the art weapons in the arsenal

0 2017-05-16 00:13:38 - carolyn

I'm a woman and I lost 20 pounds in exactly the way Joseph describes: lay off the sugar and the carbs (even just bread and crackers). It's not rocket science.

1 2017-05-08 19:01:27 - Jen
Guess she does what her man wants her to, huh?
1 2017-05-07 06:43:39 - Mountain Hermit

On a positive note, I have seen TV commercials targeted at kids promoting something called "Cuties" as a snack. These are actually clementines, like small oranges, easy to peel, and usually very sweet. My family loves them. Much easier to sell as a snack than carrots, I would think. I found this on the Web:
"Cuties is a joint venture between Paramount Citrus, Sun Pacific, and Fowler Packing"

18 2017-05-06 06:25:51 - SC

I agree with you. My husband is a current example. Apparently, academia has little need for theoretical physicists so it looks like he'll have to find a job data mining and helping execs select the next color of house on Zynga or some other such nonsense. Or worse.
And, there are continued decreases in government funded research so we end up with our brightest citizens manipulating food molecules for private corporations, as you say.

3 2017-04-26 20:35:51 - Lynn

Beside the chemically addictive nature of many of the foods we eat, I can't help but see these kinds of food as a resulting symptom of the kind of society and manner of life that we've created for ourselves.

Think about it: The lives most of us lead, are about as far away from the way of lives our predessor's lead; which were in contact with the earth and the food that grew from it. Everything around most of us now, is totally artificial; why then, not the foods we eat too?

And since the food, then, is left to the hands of maketing machines to sell to us for consumption; isn't only logical that those machines would design them in the same free-market manner as everything else we consume, so as to to induce us to spend as much and use as much as we possibly can; thereby resulting in greater profits for the seller.

Face it: Food is not what it used to be; and even still calling it food, is harkening back to the day's of yesteryear when life was different and food really was food. Life and "food" have literally become the stuff of the science fiction we all read about as kids. Unless we come to realize that and call today's food the poison that it is, we'll just be delluding ourselves and getting no closer to healthy eating by simply trying to reformulate the formulation's we consume.

Which also, by the way, is what stores like Whole Food's understand, and can extort its customers the price's that it does for things similar to what food used to be.

5 2017-04-25 06:59:55 - Iver Thompson

Post to The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food (login required)

5VW to Pay $1.2 Billion to U.S. Dealers Hurt by Diesel Scandal33Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete799Inequality Is a Drag957A Scourge Is Spreading. M.T.A.’s Cure? Dude, Close Your Legs.489The Wolf Hunters of Wall Street1194Living Wages, Rarity for U.S. Fast-Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark989The Battle for New York Schools: Eva Moskowitz vs. Mayor Bill de Blasio104The Profits-Investment Disconnect580U.S. to Commit Up to 3,000 Troops to Fight Ebola in Africa245Living on Purpose409Staten Island Man Died From Chokehold During Arrest, Autopsy Finds355Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition775After Losing Scottish Independence Vote, Alex Salmond Will Resign323How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties1Cambodians Gather to Pray, Offer Gifts for 'Killing Fields' Dead1338The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food108My Selfie, Myself1457Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll374A Political Crystal Ball219An Affair to Remember, Differently52Live Updates: Aftermath of Grand Jury's Decision in Michael Brown Shooting in Ferguson1511Shooting Accounts Differ as Holder Schedules Visit to Ferguson101Teenagers Stand Up to Backpage4380A Plea for Caution From Russia818How Obama Lost America334Death by Data281In Florida Student Assaults, an Added Burden on Accusers1625A Punch Is Seen, and a Player Is Out164 The Shifting Politics of Cuba Policy 2207Under Pressure, Cuomo Says Ebola Quarantines Can Be Spent at Home652Germany Fights Population Drop494Trayvon Martin Case Shadowed by Series of Police Missteps167It Takes a Mentor622House Votes to Sue Obama for Overstepping Powers597Don’t Muzzle the Clown443The Humanist Vocation192Weak Oversight, Deadly Cars163More on Sleeping Pills and Older Adults1092The Big Lie Behind Voter ID Laws 128‘Princelings’ in China Use Family Ties to Gain Riches495Doctors Denounce Cancer Drug Prices of $100,000 a Year445Let’s Reject the ‘Inevitable’530Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young?733On Election’s Eve, G.O.P. Is Confident, but Voters Are Sour118The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K 1031One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job630Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse290Cuomo’s Gun Law Plays Well Downstate but Alienates Upstate 999Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?449Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature