Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What We Eat

"You are what you eat," and what we eat has changed over 200 years.  America is over weight and this piece gives a clue why that is.

"Of course, what we eat and exactly how we eat it in America is undergoing constant change. One example: For about three decades, each of us, on average, has eaten more than 200 lbs. of meat annually, but the makeup of the protein mix has undergone considerable change. Whereas in the 1970s we were downing about 90 lbs. of beef each year, in 2014 it probably will be in the mid-50s. At the same time, chicken consumption has soared, more than doubling to about 85 lbs. per person.

Another data point: In 1980, McDonald's opened its 6,000th restaurant. At the end of last September there were almost 35,000 locations worldwide. Change indeed.

We're now at a time in which our dining habits are constant grist for headlines, either to inform or mock — or both. You know the drill. We're not eating enough vegetables. We're eating too much sugar. We're all overweight. Meanwhile, farming practices and genetically modified crops are ceaselessly debated, and as some of us are aiming to eat healthier than ever, others are looking for the next zany burger or complicated flavor mash-up.

There are infinite ways to dissect everything there is to know about our eating, but we aimed here to capture a few interesting trends by way of the graphic below. This is merely a glimpse of the size and scope of the food universe – for instance, we don't get into the more than $600 billion in restaurant spending we now do in the U.S. or the fact that more than 40% of our food dollars are spent outside the home.

What we hope to do is give you a broad sense of how much of what we're eating every year. See if you find elements of yourself here. Are you eating more than 80 lbs. of chicken annually, or how about 112 lbs. of potatoes? Or maybe you are in the 5% or so of us who opt for the vegetarian lifestyle. How about spending — are you putting in excess of $4,000 every year toward food, or do you even track it closely enough to know? And how much of it do you think you spend at the roughly 1 million restaurants we have coast to coast?"

The graphics in this piece are pretty revealing.  We've become a fast food nation to go with our fast lifestyle.



  1. The shortage of propane and the huge price if it is available will put a monster bills on poultry producers who depend on LP. Many may not survive.

  2. "...or do you even track it closely enough to know?" - THERE lies the fault of a LOT of our modern problems!

  3. That's right, Gorges, we must track close enough to know what in the world is going on!

    Propane man just stopped and I told him to take it where it's more needed. He said no, you are good customers, we are taking care of your order.

    Would not want to be a poultry producer right today; I would love the manure but not the headaches.


  4. Or: "We've become a fat food nation to go with our fat lifestyle." ;)

    Well I was not just "overweight" like the article says about America, I let myself down back in the days. Eating was my standard answer to stress, and of course, it soon turns into a vicious circle.

    I was what they used to call "morbidly obese" (body mass index over 40) between 2007 (maybe earlier) and 2009, went down one index level then, and have been hanging there just on the edge between these two levels until last October, when you started your diet to lose your paltry 5 pounds overweight. You really helped me there buddy, triggering me into taking charge of my weight.

    Since October, I have been hanging between "severely" (BMI 35+) and "moderately" (BMI 30+) obese, but my weight loss has resumed on a constant basis now and I am mid way to being just "overweight" (BMI 25+), with 19 less pounds to go! The Americans say it takes a BMI of 25 or less to get to a normal healthy weight, but it seems most dietitians disagree and that a BMI of 27 is perfectly healthy, a minimum of fat reserves are part of our biology. In which was I would need to lose only an extra 22 pounds instead of 36 for a BMI of 25. All these numbers are just rough indications of course, I don't even trust the reliability of my scale too much, but they are handy to set up weight loss goals.

    What makes me even more ashamed is that I got to these extreme weights not from junk food, but from eating good food I cooked myself mostly. Too much grilled meat (takes virtually no time to prepare), definitely not enough vegs and salads (it's not the time it takes to prepare, it's the "annoyance" in that "fast lifestyle," but mostly, too large portions and too much nibbling in the evening. Glad this is over (hopefully!) and that I did not turn into this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UatFvRYuXRQ

  5. Way to go, Chimel. you are not the only one struggling. The best thing we can do is share information and encourage each other.