Americans spent 11.2% of their income1 on food in 2011, a decline of 5.8% since 1984. This nice chart by Businessweek describes the process and breaks the expense into categories. The Atlantic followed up with a piece of their own, expanding on the data. Here are some highlights:
- The U.S. devotes less of its income to food than any other country—half as much as households in France and one-fourth of those in India.
- Over the last century, Americans went from eating 90% of their food at home, to an almost even split between at-home and out-of-home prepared food.
- Families used to spend more than 50 percent of income on eating and clothing. Now, the average household spends well under 20 percent.
This finally made me venture into a question I wondered about for a while now: How strong is the connection between cheap, fast food — brought to us courtesy of the industrial revolution — to our staggering health-care expenses? I’ve put together another chart2 from 2008 that compared spending on food in different countries and the corresponding cost of health care: