You Ate a Ton of Food Last Year

Categories: Talking Points
The average American consumed the equivalent of a Clydesdale horse this past year. And not a baby horse.
Yeah, that's what most of us have been saying to ourselves over the past few weeks, but it's true, according to the USDA. NPR's food correspondant, Allison Aubrey, looked over the agency's food consumption data and reported some of the numbers she found: 185 pounds of meat, 31 pounds of cheese, 273 pounds of fruit -- all of which add up to 1,996 pounds per person per year. (Visual Economics translated those figures into a chart, which, strangely enough, looks far more innocuous than the numbers themselves.)

SFoodie spent a little time looking over the USDA's data, and actually, the ton figure is a little generous, since it represents food purchases, without figuring in loss and spoilage. Those figures are measured separately, and if you want to spend half the morning gawking at Excel spreadsheets, looking at how food consumption figures have changed since 1970, they're equally illuminating. 

For example, the average American is eating 40 pounds less a year of red meat than we did 40 years ago -- but since we've doubled our consumption of chicken and turkey, we've more than made up for it. And if you look at the USDA's estimates of where our calories come from, not only are we eating more per day -- 2,594 calories in 2009, compared to 2,169 in 1974 -- almost all of those extra calories come in the form of flour and cereal products and added fats. That translates into the scone you've been picking up at Starbucks with your morning latte. <cough>easyresolution</cough> 

Happy new year.

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