Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hooked: The Science of Corporate Foods

For many years I have offered this joke about food - "Food is addictive. I started eating at a very young age and I still do it, sometimes three times a day."

Seems the joke is on me.

This weekend, Pulitzer prize winning reporter Michael Moss will share an excerpt from his forthcoming book "Sugar Salt Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us" in the NYTimes Magazine. The intense scientific effort to create foods which never satisfy yet create constant cravings is laid bare in the book. This link offers the excerpt now. It is a harrowing account of science turned against us.

A very brief sample of the type of research food corps rely on:

"This contradiction is known as “sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex 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."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Curl Up and Dye; or, Washington's Hair Cliff

A recent outrage du jour: the fiscal meltdown of the Senate haircut emporium, promoted by email and 'news' reports:

"Since 1997, the Senate Hair Care shop has consistently run deficits of about $340,000 annually, a taxpayer subsidy that is growing rather than shrinking.

"The Senate hair salon provides about 509 services a week — a range of haircuts, shampooing, coloring and waves, nail services, hair removal and shoe shines. It costs about $900,000 annually to operate."

Some say the salons are getting bailouts.

Confusing this tonsorial dilemma, the House has their hair salon while the Senate has their own, too. Last year the one for the House was cheered, though the year before it was demonized.

Exclusive hair salons, gyms, cafes, car rentals ... It certainly is not easy to remain a pretty politician - even tougher to make a good business model.