Modern-day America spends most of its grocery money on processed foods

Sunday, June 17, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: groceries, Americans, processed foods

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(NaturalNews) The "typical" American family has changed over the past 30 years, no question about that. It is smaller, for one thing, and when it does expand parents are waiting until they are older before having kids. There has been a rise in one-parent households as well, which is troubling to some religious leaders and social scientists, and it is becoming more acceptable to also define as a "family" non-traditional unions and relationships.

One thing that has also occurred over the past three decades, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, is that more Americans are spending less on groceries. In 1982, Americans spent about 13 percent of their income on groceries. Today that figure has fallen to less than 9 percent.

But we're spending more of our grocery money on genetically modified and processed foods, according to government figures.

"We now spend a much bigger share of our grocery money on processed foods, which includes things like frozen dinners, canned soups and snacks. We spend much less on meat, largely because meat is much cheaper than it was 30 years ago," said

Meats, veggies, dairy replaced by processed foods

Meats comprised the largest share of our grocery budget three decades ago - 31.3 percent - compared to 21.5 percent now, our second-highest line item.

Those awful processed foods now top our grocery expenditures (22.9 percent), though in 1982 we only spent 11.6 percent of our grocery money on them (when they were No. 5 on the list of expenditures).

Sadly, we are also spending less today, too, on fruits and vegetables. In 1982, Americans spent 14.5 percent of their grocery budget on fruits and veggies (the second-highest line item). Today we spend a higher amount - 14.6 percent - of our food budget on fruits and vegetables, but they have fallen to No. 3 on our total grocery expenditures list.

Grains and baked goods 30 years ago consumed 13.2 percent of our food budget and was the third-most purchased item; today, again, we spend more of our money (14.4 percent) on grains and baked goods but they fell to No. 4 on the list.

Dairy products also fell, from 13.2 percent three decades ago to 10.6 percent now. In addition, dairy products went from being the fourth-most purchased item to the least purchased of the major food groups.

In 1982 we spent 11 percent of our grocery budget on drinks and 5.3 percent on "other foods," according to the government's figures. Today drinks are up slightly to 11.1 percent, while we spend a little less - 5.1 percent - on "other foods."

As processed food purchases rose, the nation's waistline expanded

"We've seen major restructuring in poultry, pork and beef industries that has allowed efficiencies and brought down the cost," Walter Falcon, a Stanford economist, told NPR.

Three decades ago, at the midpoint of Ronald Reagan's first term in office, the nation was in the throes of recession and the inflation rate had climbed to 13.5 percent in 1980, so that could account for why prices were higher then as compared to now. Meats - bacon, steak, chicken, pork chops, ground beef - have all declined between 12 percent and 30 percent over the past 30 years.

By far, however, the most alarming fact about these grocery spending figures is the high rate of expenditure for processed foods. That, and the decline in spending for fruits and vegetables. That's because high fructose corn syrup dramatically increases the sugar content contained in processed foods and is primarily responsible for the nation's obesity epidemic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these, over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. Sixty-five percent of the world's population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.

Think about that - and the government's latest grocery stats - the next time you head to the store.

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