March 31, 2009

Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's Really Making America Fat by Hank Cardello with Doug Garr

BOOK #: 24 (I did not review book #23)
Triple 999 Challenge
RATING: Amazing!

Book Description:
It was his job to keep you eating.
It was his job to keep you drinking.
It was his job to keep you buying.
Unfortunately for you, he was good at it.

For more than thirty years, Hank Cardello was an executive and adviser to some of the largest food and beverage corporations in the world. For thirty years, he watched as corporate profits- and America's waistlines- ballooned: fattening consumers meant fattening profits. Now, in this fascinating and timely book, Cardello offers a behind-the scenes look at the business of food, providing an insider's account of food company practices, failed government regulations, and misleading media coverage that have combined to place us in the middle of a national obesity epidemic. This book is a sweeping critique of excessive food consumption in America, one that uncovers the money behind the calories and presents a fresh vision for building health into the lives of ordinary Americans.

This book was an all-consuming, intense read that made me want to keep reading quotes right from the book to others. Cardello creates for the reader a crystal clear picture of what the food industry (in all sectors) has done to feed America into a national health crisis. Cardello does not lay blame in just one corner, though. He explains in detail how everyone from the major food corporations to the grocers to restaurants to the consumers themselves have helped fuel the obesity epidemic. Then, lucky for us, he takes his knowledge of the inner workings of the food industry and uses it now for good, giving a no-nonsense approach to how we can correct the problem by each taking responsibility for our part, researching a healthier way to make profits (and even increase them) and delicious meals, and watch our waistlines slowly return from the places they've been hiding.

I enjoyed Cardello's no holds barred approach to getting this information to the public. He doesn't dress it up or butter it up for the reader, but instead says what he wants to say as plainly and closed to interpretation as possible.

"The risks to Americans' health that this presents are not always immediately apparent, but there is a darker reality here that few people take seriously. You start with those packaged goods with high calories and sugar, and that jumbo order of fries at the fast-food emporia that dot the American landscape today. Cut to the overcrowded hospital rooms of tomorrow and a society burdened with obesity and diabetes. There are several dots to connect the food with an overburdened health care system that will eventually affect the well-being and economic status of every American, obese or not."
Cardello offers so much inside information you feel as if you've been let in on a huge conspiracy. He lets you in on trade secrets I had never dreamed up. Did you know a well-trained waiter will nod slightly when he wants you to choose a particular item on the list of specials? Did you know that purchasing agents for restaurants have little control over which products they purchase? And did you know that salads are not on the menu to give you a healthy alternative? They hardly ever reach the mouths of those who need them the most. No, they were put there to lure in customers' friends and family members who would not ordinarily come to the restaurant. "They're not really being offered as a health initiative; they're an accomodation item."

Cardello explains how well advertising and marketing is orchestrated. It is an exact science. There are no casual decisions made. Whether an item is at eye level on the grocery store shelf (not just kids' items, but adult-focused items too) is a huge design issue. Cardello tells of a study done by Stanford University that discovered children preferred McDonald's packaged carrots to plain-packaged carrots. They did not realize, of course, that McDonald's doesn't sell carrots. They were the same carrots put in two different packages.

He also explains that government regulations are not working. Take the Food Pyramid for example:

"In 2006 the pyramid was made over but the revision still did little to make America healthier. Today the same debate is being waged as government officials once again begin to rethink and redesign the Food Pyramid, and it's obvious that the result will be a hodgepodge influenced by special interests. The U.S. Potato Board wants to be included as a vegetable and the meat folks certainly don't want to move up the pyramid either."
I agree with Cardello that changes that the government mandates do little to address the main issue and can even create a new set of problems. Cardello believes that the obesity crisis can be solved in a way that benefits us all, consumer and executive alike. However, the road will not be easy and it will take more than talking about it to get it done.

***I loved reading Stuffed and now I'd love to pass it on! Instead of a giveaway for this title, I am looking for a barter. If you have a book I'd like to read, I will send you Stuffed in exchange for it. Want to know what's on my wishlist? Visit me on BookMooch here or Amazon here. The first one to contact me with a good exchange (sorry, due to the weight, stateside only) will get the book!

Special thanks to Stacey Miller for sending me this book for review.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see this one's so good since it's in my TBR pile.


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