Reporter co-opts the grocery aisle • Brooklyn Paper

Reporter co-opts the grocery aisle

Co-operate: Journalist Michael Moss started investigating big food companies’ contributions to the obesity epidemic after reporting on Islamic militants in Algeria.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Watch out, Coca-Cola — the co-op is coming.

New York Times investigative reporter and Park Slope Food Co-op veteran Michael Moss will bring his four-year exploration into the processed food industry to a reading series at the crunchy grocery store on Jan. 17.

“I like to call it the food you hate to love,” said Moss, whose bestselling 2013 book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” explores how big food companies knowingly contributed to the obesity epidemic by engineering difficult-to-resist treats, laden with fat, sugar, and salt.

Moss said he realizes he is preaching to the choir amongst his fellow kale shoppers, but the free event will also be open to non-members of the grocery store. The talk will also cover shopping strategies for those whose local market is less Park Slope and more Pathmark.

“I think co-op members are in an incredibly enviable position where they have access to incredibly fresh local produce that is relatively inexpensive,” said Moss, who has been a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op for about 15 years. “When I talk to co-op members, it is going to be less about their situation because, frankly, they are in close to an ideal situation.”

Moss says his investigation into Big Food yielded two particularly shocking discoveries: the largest food companies in America, such as Nabisco, General Mills, and Kraft, have known all along that they were contributing to the growing obesity problem; and they are even more addicted to the miracle ingredient of salt than we are, because of its ability to mask less tasty flavors inherent to processed food.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist became interested in exposing the corruption of giant food companies after his 2008 return from Algeria, where he says he was reporting on terrorism and Islamic militants until the FBI told him he was on an al-Qaeda hit list. The reporter and his editor decided that he needed to pick a different beat — and before long, he was reporting on an outbreak of salmonella.

“I think that I have done with food what I have done with any subject I have grappled with — which is to put a huge amount of relevancy back into readers’ hands so they feel empowered,” Moss said. “That is my goal in writing any story about any subject.”

Michael Moss at the Park Slope Food Co-op (782 Union St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Park Slope, www.foodcoop.com). Jan. 17 at 7 pm. Free. Non-members welcome.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.

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