We Are What We Eat June 2008
About This Report
Setting the Table: A person's food choices and eating habits link directly to their mental and physical health.
Main Course: Most Americans eat large quantities of industrialized foods full of empty calories: Only 8% of U.S. adults regularly buy food bearing labels "natural" or "organic."
Check, please: The price of eating processed foods has a measure in the rise in medical conditions such as obesity and the resulting impact on health care and health-care-insurance costs.
In the past few years, more people have become aware of the U.S. food-supply chain because the media have been full of stories of cloned animals, genetically modified foods, contaminated spinach, mad cow disease, and downer cows. In addition, today's grocery shoppers are paying more for a cart of foodstuffs than they did as few as five years ago. Rising fuel prices-affecting transportation costs-and recent skyrocketing grain costs are driving up the share of wallet necessary to put food on the table. For many households, the budget crunch caused by escalating food prices may be only the short-term cost to the U.S. economy. Longer term, the amount of health care that a person will require in his or her lifetime because of poor eating habits has the potential to affect health-care-insurance costs and the taxpayer-subsidized programs Medicare and Medicaid.
In In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan argues that "our personal health cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are a part." In his earlier work, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan examines the U.S. industrial food chain's reliance on fossil fuel, fertilizers, and corn-subsidized by the U.S. government and the practice of using antibiotics and growth hormones to produce the meat and poultry supply. Pollan argues that through these widely used and accepted practices, we are "feeding ourselves foods far more novel than we realize." Pollan claims that through our willingness to value "eating conveniently" rather than value food's real benefits-nutrition-we not only endanger our personal health but endanger the health of the natural world: the environment. We Are What We Eat explores the VALS™ groups' attitudes about food and health and their grocery-buying behaviors.
Table of Contents
|Setting the Table||2|
|People Who Buy Food with Labels "Natural" or "Organic"||7|
|People Who Dine Out Once a Week or More||8|
|Households' Average Weekly Grocery Bill||8|
|Meat and Poultry Consumption in the Past Six Months||10|
|Produce Consumption in the Past Six Months||13|
|Use of Organic Dairy Products in the Past Six Months||15|
|Use of Industrialized Foods in the Past Six Months||16|
|Consumption of Types of Bread in the Past Six Months||18|
|Source of Medical Insurance||19|
|Frequency of Eating in Family and Fast-Food Restaurants in the Past 30 Days||20|
|Environmental Issues Related to Food||23|
- In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan, The Penguin Press, 2008
- The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan, Penguin Books, 2006
- VALS™/Scan February 2008: "The New Luxury Item: Food"
- Scan™ Monthly No. 054 (August 2007): "The Future of Food"
- Scan™ Monthly No. 053 (July 2007): "Untangling the Food- and Drug-Supply Chain"
- "Markets on a Tear: Wheat, Oil, Euro," Wall Street Journal, 27 February 2008
- "Rising Grain Prices Panic Developing World: Biofuel Crops Edge Out Staples on Farms," Washington Post, 4 April 2008
- "Faming Critics Fault Industry's Influence," Wall Street Journal, 30 April 2008
- "Report Targets Costs of Factory Farming," Washington Post, 30 April 2008
- PBS: Independent Lens: King Corn
- United States Department of Agriculture
- United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Service
- United States Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
- "Paved With Green Intentions," Time Magazine, 7 April 2008
- "Solving the Biofuels vs. Food Problem," Time Magazine, 7 April 2008
- "You Are What You Eat: Some Differences Between Humans And Chimpanzees Traced To Diet," Science Daily, 3 February 2008