Saturday, December 16, 2006

What Americans Eat - The Census Report

The United States Census Bureau has issued its annual Statistical Abstract of the United States. According to The New York Times “an eclectic portrait” of sorts may be drawn from the report. Actually, Grey Lady, it’s just a set of largely banal facts, there is no artistry in it whatsoever.

But like the Times, I am trying to gain a better understanding of my fellow Americans nonetheless – lest the endless toil of thousands of statisticians (who, let’s face it, get a bad wrap as “bean counter” types) go to waste.

Back at the The New York Times they are reporting that according to the Abstract, “Americans drank more than 23 gallons of bottled water per person in 2004 — about 10 times as much as in 1980. We consumed more than twice as much high fructose corn syrup per person as in 1980 and remained the fattest inhabitants of the planet, although Mexicans, Australians, Greeks, New Zealanders and Britons are not too far[, er,] behind. [emphasis not in the original, of course]. Good to know.

There are some other interesting food facts to be culled from the Abstract. For instance, while Americans are engaged in a big long fond embrace of cheese generally – and yes my friends, someone has been nibbling at the cheese – Americans have turned a bitter “talk to the hand” palm up against cottage cheese’s face (see Table 201, line 51, reporting that cottage cheese consumption has descended from 4.5 lbs to 2.6 lbs per person while cheese consumption in general has almost doubled, see id. at line 43).

Cocoa consumption has almost doubled too – that’s good, but only if its quality stuff and nothing in the report indicates whether there has been a rise in quality or if the USA is just grabbing cheap cocoa butter laden bars on the sly.

Well, moooove over Julia Roberts, apparently America is having a love affair with edible beef tallow now because we eat quadruple what we did a few years ago. My question is: “what is it?” I wouldn’t know edible beef tallow from a scruffy old beach towel.

Looks like its nix for the fake butter sticks – America hates, hates margarine. Well, no, not hate, hate is for mongers, but dislike is for the rest of us, and our dislike of margarine must be on the rise because consumption of margarine is down by around 75%.

We are right back where we started on tea drinking with each American drinking 7.3 gallons of sips per year – the same as in 1980. I probably drink 7.3 gallons of tea each week. Which is why it can be said, although I may not be the fattest inhabitant of the planet or have a Mexican, an Australian, a Greek, New Zealander and Brit following me, like the American The New York Times wrote about, I do have in common with my fellow USAers, a propensity to drink a lot.

No comments: