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Our family structures have changed, of course, with more women working outside of the home, more single-parent households, and, as a result, less time for home cooking. In the 1970s, market researchers began to find that for consumers, convenience was key, and executives at some of the food companies Moss spoke to still rationalize that they are giving the people what they want: inexpensive, easy sustenance. What's problematic is how dependent that sustenance is on the ingredients of Moss's title, from sugary breakfast cereals to Oscar Meyer's meat- and cheese-based Lunchables to frozen microwavable Hot Pockets, which contain more than 100 ingredients and close to a day's recommended limits of saturated fat and salt. Indeed, as the processed food industry has expanded, salt, sugar, and fat have become its three pillars, cheap components that serve many other functions beyond the obvious ones: adding bulk to food, stimulating overeating, and covering up the tastes of chemical additives, to name a few.

As part of his research, Moss spoke to a number of food scientists, learning how sophisticated they are in formulating their products to maximize appeal. For instance, they do extensive testing to determine a food's "bliss point," the "precise amount of sweetness – no more, no less – that makes food and drink most enjoyable." Similar testing is done with fat, whose history here is fascinating. During the 1980s, the popularity of whole milk plunged. As skim and reduced-fat milks rose in popularity, the extracted milkfat began to pile up. The dairy industry realized it could convert that excess fat into cheese, which is no longer enjoyed primarily on its own but as an often secondary ingredient tucked away in processed food. (The amount of cheese Americans eat, on average, per year has tripled since 1970, from eleven pounds to thirty-three pounds.) Most of the unhealthy saturated fats ingested in the U.S. come not from cookies and ice cream but from cheese and beef, which, because their industries are government subsidized, are actually promoted to Americans despite their clear risks: as recently as 2010 a USDA guide recommended Americans increase their cheese consumption. 

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