Category Archives: food

Infographic Contrasting Food Regulations in U.S. to E.U.

I found the infographic below over at Yes magazine. Most people are aware that the E.U.’s food regulations are much more conservative than ours here in the U.S. It is fairly amazing to note the differences between these two leaders of the developed world.

Much of this infographic is about meat.

Everyone has their own favorite subject off this list, but one concern is that the U.S. is upping its use of Atrazine to combat superweeds, whereas it is banned altogether in European countries.

Beyond GMOs Infographic


Bananas, Apples, Potatoes, and Tomatoes are the most Popular Fruits and Vegetables in the U.S.

• According to USDA data, 383.2 pounds of vegetables per person were available for Americans to eat in 2011, down from a peak of 424.7 pounds per person in 1996.

• The decline was largest for potatoes (34.5 pounds) due to decreased production, followed by carrots (7 pounds), head lettuce (6.1 pounds), and tomatoes (4.2 pounds).

• Despite declines in potato and tomato consumption, these two vegetables still dominate U.S. vegetable consumption.

• In 2011, 86.3 pounds per person of tomatoes and 83 pounds of potatoes (not including dehydrated and chips) were available for Americans to eat. French fries and pizza from fast-food restaurants and grocery stores contribute to the high consumption of these two vegetables.

• The third highest vegetable, sweet corn, came in at 24.1 pounds per person in 2011.

• Americans ate an average of 47.8 pounds of fresh fruit per person in 2011, up from 37.2 pounds in 1970.

• While bananas and apples still top the list of most popular fresh fruits, the amount of bananas consumed grew between 1970 and 2011, and consumption of fresh apples declined.

• Watermelons and grapes moved up in the rankings, strawberries replaced grapefruit, and per-person consumption of fresh oranges fell.

Source: USDA

What Did the Average U.S. Household Spend for Food and Transportation in 2012?

The BLS has reported average U.S. expenditure rates (per consumer unit*) for 2012.

From the report, as compared to 2011:
• Average before-tax incomes went up 3.0 percent to $65,596
• Average annual expenditures went up 3.5 percent to $51,442
• Total food costs went up 2.2 percent to $6,599
• Transportation expenditures went up 8.5 percent to $8,998

In the pie graph below, I have taken the BLS data on food and transportation expenditures from the report and divided them by the average annual total expenditures (for the average consumer spending unit*) to come up with 12.8 percent spent for food, 17.5 percent spent for transportation, and 30.3 percent spent for the two categories combined.

The changes in per consumer unit* expenditures over two years reveal that the food category expenditure went up 5.4 percent in 2011, followed by 2.2 percent in 2012, whereas the transportation expenditures went up 8.0 percent in 2011, followed by 8.5 percent in 2012.

This year, the BLS also reported expenditure averages according to race. For example, Hispanics are spending 15.5 percent on food, and 19.7 percent of their total expenditures on transportation, according to the BLS.

It’s worth noting that the USDA also reports these statistics, and with a different set of numbers. The USDA reports that Americans spent 15.0 percent on food and 20.5 percent on transportation in 2012. Each year, the USDA’s expenditure numbers vary from this annual BLS expenditure report, and the reason why is unknown to me, but I’d venture to guess that they are using a lower income scale subset of data. The USDA also states that the food share of consumer expenditures is down from 17 percent in 1984, as consumers “spend a greater share of income on housing, health care, and entertainment.”

Another unanswered question for me, is how food benefit programs such a food stamps and free school breakfast and lunch programs enter into the consumer food expenditure data. I’d expect that these programs lower the BLS’s food expenditure percentage numbers from what they would otherwise be, since that portion of food cost is not an expenditure for the respective consumer spending unit, something important to consider when glancing at the data.

* A consumer unit, as defined by the BLS, averages 2.5 persons, 1.3 earners, with 1.9 vehicles, 64 percent of which are homeowners.