VCU’s Summer Reading Program introduces incoming students to the academic and intellectual culture of VCU through a common reading experience. Over the summer, students read a select book and discuss it in different settings during freshman year.
When students attend orientation, they are given their own copies of the book and asked to read it before they return to campus in August. During Welcome Week and throughout the academic year, students exchange ideas on the book through small-group discussions led by a faculty member, university administrator or upper-level student. The discussions not only introduce academic dialogue, but also offer opportunities to establish connections with faculty, staff and fellow students.
The 2013-2014 book is Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss
In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century—including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more—Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.
Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed—in a technique adapted from tobacco companies—to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users”—as the companies refer to their most ardent customers—are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.
Be sure to see the VCU Libraries Summer Reading Resource Guide for lots of interesting articles about the book, the author, and the topic. You’ll also find resources for prior years’ selections.