On books I have been reading

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I finished reading 2 books in the last 2 weeks… yep, am on a roll. Making full use of my kindle. Like I was telling KC- I am a Sindhi and believe in making full use of the money I pay. Like, I spend 3 hours per day in the gym just to justify how much I pay for it- 3 times that of my previous gym.

Salt, Sugar, Fat : How the food giants hooked us by Michael Moss

This is not a diet or weight loss book. It is a book every consumer of processed foods should read. It covers the most important ingredients in processed food- sugar, salt and fat. The author talks about each in a different section. Each section describes the chemical composition of sugar/salt/fat, how it works in the body, what effect it has- positive and negative, how food companies add it to their products, what is US government’s stand on it and what actions have been taken to reduce their quantities.

Sure, the book focuses on USA but it is very relevant to India today. Yes, we still prefer to have our meals at home unlike most Americans. We can afford cooks and manage home cooked meals no matter how busy. But, we eat out more often our parents. Today’s kids have grown up on pizzas while I probably ate pizza once in a year as a kid. Times have changed and processed foods are going to invade our kitchen more and more. We all know they are not good for health. But this book really spells it out. The food companies don’t only focus on making tasty foods but also on making the food ‘addictive’. It is not a coincidence that we cannot stop at a few bites/sips of chips/colas/desserts/namkeen etc… we tend to finish the whole packets. It is not a coincidence that bigger packs of junk foods are available on shelves now. Seen the Lay’s party packs or cola 1.5 ltr bottles in stores?

As a Management graduate, the book is interesting because it talks about marketing strategies… how products are created and advertised. As someone who works in FMCG food and have worked in the personal care/beauty I have no qualms about what I sell. I believe, like any management person, that it is the consumer’s responsibility to be aware. Where companies need to do their part is disclose the correct nutritional information on products. The book also asks CEOs/Marketing Heads on their stand on contributing to the obesity epidemic in the USA. Many of them quit their companies ultimately and none of them eat products manufactured by their organizations. Do I mind selling candies with loads of sugar? No. Would I feed them to my kids? No. Would I eat them myself? Rarely.

Few months back we had hired an agency to sample a very sugary candy. After 2 days in the store, we had a meeting with agency to see if there are any gaps in the activation before we roll it out nationally. The agency said the mothers were reluctant to buy the product since it has a lot of sugar. It would help if we can talk about the nutrition it provides- maybe that it has Vitamin C since one of the products was strawberry flavour. The brand manager and I started laughing. “There is no nutrition… please don’t even try going on that tangent. It won’t be convincing”, we told them.

This is a book that everyone should read- whether you are into fitness or not. It is more about being aware of what is happening around us. No matter how hard we try it is impossible to get away from Nestle/Cadbury/Mars/Coke/Pepsi/Kelloggs/Frito Lays/ITC/General Mills and many, many more.

Not that kind of girl by Lena Dunham

I admire Lena. She is an anomaly in Hollywood… a lady with an imperfect figure who has no qualms about being nude onscreen. Yes, she tries too hard to be different- reference to her outfits on the red carpet. This book is not an autobiography. They are just snippets of her life- they could be articles she may written/blog posts or essays. They are not even the most important or significant snippets. Its like reading her blog where she has written whatever.

Read this book without expectations and you will enjoy it. Lena is imperfect and there are some very scandalous things in her life… but thats ok. I didn’t judge her… I don’t even identify with her.

And if you think Indian men are perverts, read about her sexual experiences and well, Indian men seem a whole lot better. She has had more than one experience where the partner has removed/tried to remove his condom while in the act hoping Lena won’t notice.

 

 


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