According to USDA statistics, on average Americans spend 10% of their income on food. This is by far the lowest percentage of any country on earth. In fact, it is the lowest percentage of income spent on food in any country in recorded history.
Whereas in most places a majority of a person’s income is spent on food (in many places substantially all of it is spent on food) in this country we still have 90% of our income left over after buying food. One would hope that such wealth would mean we choose to buy the healthiest and best-tasting food. But the truth is that as we spend less and less of our income on food, we buy worse and worse food. The diet of most Americans is mostly processed chemical-laced stuff that is great at fattening and sickening us and very poor at giving us any nourishment.
Eating this way not only ruins the health and lives of the people, but it helps destroy good farming practices by making it economically impossible to farm that way. The USDA also reports that of that 10% we spend on food, less than 20% of it goes back to the farmer. There are so many middle-men processing, packaging and marketing the stuff we call food, and sucking off the money paid for it, that there is hardly anything left for the farmers who grew the things in the first place.
Of course this industrial method of eating is unsustainable. Someday it will all collapse as the national health crisis worsens or when the industrial supply chain upon which we’ve made ourselves so utterly dependent fails.
As I’ve said so many times before–it doesn’t have to be this way. Plant a garden. Visit a farmer’s market. Join a CSA. Go to localharvest.org and enter your zip code and you’ll be directed to lots of real farms in your area where honest-to-goodness farmers are producing food that deserves that name–food that will strengthen and nourish a body.
And those of us who believe in eating this way should spread the word. As Ghandi said, we should be the change we want to see.