Food kills. Though you can drive safely while eating a hamburger, and nobody has proven that donuts are addictive, the fast food culture is as dangerous as an underage driver with a six-pack or a middle-aged man with a carton of smokes. Of course, food is necessary for life, but that only makes the American food industry more insidious. As long as we want more than carrot sticks, brown rice and tofu, according to Marion Nestle's new book, food companies will continue to be as deceptive as big tobacco and as cozy with the government as the military industry. Food does not really kill, then. Only people do--the people who trade on confusion and affluence to market food that tastes so good people will risk their health for it.

Food Politics shows how the food industry turns wholesome natural ingredients into sweet, fatty and salty products. Only a fraction of what we pay at the supermarket goes to the producers of raw food. The cost of the corn in Kellogg's Corn Flakes, for example, is less than 10 percent of the retail price. Food companies must add value to the original ingredients in order to turn a profit--but the more they add, the more consumers seem to lose.

Any way you look at it, the numbers add up to one conclusion: Americans are getting more obese by the minute. Nestle, chair of nutrition studies at New York University, has been on the front line of the food wars as managing editor of the first—and so far only—Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health, which appeared in 1988. Her book offers ample proof that for the sake of profit large corporations conspire with the government to manipulate and confuse consumers. While her research on the cynicism of the food industry and complacency of the government is alarming, her rhetoric is predictable. Indeed, her conspiracy theory fits right into the culture of victimhood and complaint.