Holidays and Beautiful Vegetables – repost from Tending the Healthy Hearth 4/25/2010

On a recent trip to the lovely Italian coast, my friend posed this question to local residents, “What do you spend your money on?” Their reply, “Holidays and beautiful vegetables.” Coincidentally, at about the same time another friend sent me a breakdown on U.S. consumer spending.

Discovering what U.S. citizens spend on food today, I went digging for a historical perspective. Come to find out, on average we (those of us who make up the U.S. population) spend only 12.4% of our income on food. Of that, close to, but not quite 50% is spent on dining away from home.1 Compare those expenditures with the population of our country in 1963 when compatriots spent nearly one-third of their paycheck on food.2

Where are we spending all the money we are saving on the grocery bill? Here’s what I found. In 2006 the average annual amount spent by every man, woman and child in this country for health care goods and services was $7018. In 1960, it was $143 per person.3

The nutritional values of raw foods have diminished in the past 50 years. Our soils are increasingly depleted and we can now factor in long distance transportation affecting quality. We would have to eat eight oranges today to receive comparable nutrition to that of one orange in 1960. Given that, it seems logical that our grocery bill should be higher, not lower.

But somewhere between 1960 and 2010, sodium-rich processed foods that are made to taste appealing by the use of artificial flavorings and questionable ingredients have trumped beautiful vegetables. It seems we still think health is important for quality of life, but most of us seem to be chasing health rather than preserving it.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…I’m going outside to plant beautiful vegetables and call it a holiday.


1Consumer Spending, U. S. Dept of Labor, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April, 2009. How the Average US consumer spends their paycheck

2 How Much Should We Spend?, Debra Pankow, Family Economics Specialist, North Dakota State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating extension service, FE440 (Revised), June 2009. How Much Should We Spend?

3U. S. National Health Spending, Samuel L. Baker, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Dept. of Health Services Policy and Management, HSPM J712 , Updated 20 months ago, August 26, 2008.

Posted in Uncategorized on 04/25/2010 02:02 pm

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