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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fast, Cheap & Easy: A Sad Summary of Our Food Culture


Americans spend just over an hour a day eating.  Comparing this to the average time spent eating of 34 other western countries at 1 hour and 40 minutes, it should come as no surprise that our obesity rate is double theirs and the highest in the world. 

The magic ingredient we are missing is time.  


Americans spend less of their income on food than any other country in the world.  In America, 6.4% of our consumer expenditures are spent on food.  In India, where food is the cheapest on the planet,  25% of their expenditures are spent on food.  Even in high-income countries like Sweden spend 11% on food. Lingering over food is not an American hallmark, and quite possible that fact may be one of the most significant pitfalls when it comes to our health.  


It should come as no surprise that Americans consume more fast food than any other nation in the world.  Over the past century, the percentage of meals eaten at home compared to eaten out (away from home) has plummeted from 90% to 50%.  Drive-thru and convenience, pre-packaged, processed meals have become the rule not the exception.

So it should come as no surprise that:
  • Our obesity rate is double that of these countries.  
  • 53 diseases are related to obesity.
  • The US spends $3.8 trillion on health care.  (That number is so large the zeros don't fit!)
  • That's about $11,000 per person per year is spent on health care. 

Perhaps we should take "cheap" out of our identity label.  The cost of a dollar menu habit is clearly more than it appears.  

If fast, cheap and easy sums up our eating and food culture, I dare say the adage: "you are what you eat" fits us painfully well.  

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