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Thursday, July 29, 2010

We eat too much

Today, one of my co-workers put a link on Facebook to an article on Visual Economics: "What are we eating?" What I found did not surprise me at all:

In a year, the average American consumes 62.4 lbs of beef, 46.5 lbs of pork, 60.4 lbs of chicken, 32.7 lbs of eggs, 31.4 lbs of cheese, 600.5 lbs of dairy (not cheese).

So, this is no wonder that Americans have an obesity problem. This includes me. I am not fat... not compared to most Americans. But if I went to Japan, China, or even most countries, people would probably categorize me as another American who overeats.

But we are not overeating everything. We are not overeating cereals, fruits or vegetables. What we are overeating is animal products.

Our entire agricultural sector is centered -- not around feeding the people who work in the fields, or even the people who pay the people who work in the fields. Nope. It is centered around feeding the animals that feed the people who work in the fields and the people who pay them to work in the fields.

And what do we get? We get really cheap, caloric, high-cholesterol animal products that we clearly eat waaaaay too much of.

Which means that our food choices are directly related to the way we treat the animals we get our cholesterol from. Our dollars are paying for our fat. We are also condoning the way in which we treat animals which we depend on for our high cholesterol diets.

We are condoning and paying for factory farms and battery cages.

The best way to better ourselves and the animals is to (to completely plagiarize from Jonathan Safran-Foer's book, Eating Animals) simply eat fewer animal products. And try to get our meat, eggs and dairy from a humane farmer.

Many of you may think that this is just another one of my extreme anti-meat rants. But think about what we all ate today, and think about just how much of what we ate came from an animal. Me? I had dairy for lunch, and dinner. And that is not typical... I usually have it for all three meals.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on the general points, but I think the figures you cited are misleading. When you divide by the number of days in a year, we are eating less than half a pound of beef pork and chicken every day...about 7.4 ounces a day. Divided by two meals, that's a little more than three ounces a meal, which is a normal serving. Surely some people eat more than this, but some eat less. I left out eggs because that's a breakfast food, and I am only dividing by two meals...lunch and dinner.

    That's the trouble with aggregate statisics...without doing the math, those numbers make us look like much bigger gluttons than we actually are :)