Take a look at this information regarding the Top 10 items people are spending money on at food stores.
While you’re reading through the list, make a note of what is missing. Consider what it takes to create each product, e.g., value-added process, ingredients, etc. Think about which food crops are needed to create each product. And, if you can, think about how the money flows from your pocket to which participants in the food value chain.
For the 52 weeks ending June 14, 2009, the Top 10-selling grocery items are (NOTE – ranked by dollar sales, in $billions):
ITEM SALES ($B) % CHANGE
1.) Carbonated Beverages $12.00 1.86
2.) Milk $11.20 -8.44
3.) Fresh Bread & Rolls $9.57 4.77
4.) Beer/Ale/Hard Cider $8.17 5.42
5.) Salty Snacks $8.09 9.75
6.) Natural Cheese $7.64 7.75
7.) Frozen Dinners/Entrees $6.13 0.18
8.) Cold Cereal $6.11 2.12
9.) Wine $5.49 3.72
10.) Cigarettes $4.63 -2.18
SOURCE: INFORMATION RESOURCES INC. (IRI)
While its great to see Milk on the list (although share is dropping fast), as well as Grains (i.e., bread, cereal), did you also notice that Vegetables (2-1/2 cups recommended per day), Fruits (1-1/2 cups) and Meat & Beans (5 ounces) were not on the list? Considering how many empty calories are wrapped up in soda and snacks, you can start to see why America has a problem with its waistline.
The other important thing that jumps out is how much of this list is occupied by highly processed “foods”, including sodas, snacks and (many) frozen dinners/entrees. Lots of added sugar, salt and oils originating from heavily subsidized corn and soy crops, much of which is grown using genetically modified seeds, chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Do you see anything on the list that diversified farms are benefiting from? Dairy farms show up, but if you’ve been following their industry as of late you know most smaller dairies are facing serious financial troubles.
Without getting into the many influences that make this list look the way it does, from food science to marketing to consumer behaviors, I would like to issue a homework assignment to anyone interested in using your food expenditures to increasingly benefit farmers (rather than the industrial food system that dominates today’s market).
- Over the next 2-3 months capture information on your own household’s grocery purchases.
- Compare the data you capture to the list above.
- Develop a game plan to replace processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables and your preferred protein sources (meat, beans, etc.).
- After several months of effort, gauge how you and others in your household feel.
My expectations is that your body, mind and soul will feel nourished in ways that strongly reinforce your decision to shift how you spend your food dollars.
Give it a try. Make a difference.
Every Kitchen Table is a proud supporter of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday series.