How Americans' Diets Have Changed Over the Past Century



A recent issue of a US Department of Agriculture publication includes an examination of how America's food choices have changed over the past one hundred years. As you can see from one of the charts provided in the article, we're eating a lot more chicken. The authors explain why:
Chicken availability over the past 100 years illustrates the effects of new technologies and product development. Increased chicken availability from 10.4 pounds per person in 1909 to 58.8 pounds in 2008 reflects the industry’s development of lower cost, meaty broilers in the 1940s and later, ready-to cook products, such as boneless breasts and chicken nuggets, as well as ready-to-eat products, such as pre-cooked chicken strips to toss in salads or pasta dishes.

Broilers were first marketed in the 1920s as a specialty item for restaurants. By the mid-1950s, innovations in breeding, mass production, and processing had made chicken more plentiful, affordable, and convenient for the dining-out market and for cooking at home. Media coverage of health concerns associated with total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in the last quarter of the 1900s may have contributed to a rise in chicken tacos and turkey burgers.

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The fact that chicken is costly to produce, compared to the eggs that they provide, that people really didn't eat them previously. Why take the time to raise a chicken to adulthood, then kill it and eat it when you could let it live and collect eggs every day for several years? Factory farming has changed that.
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I think the most interesting thing on that chart is how the popularity of pork is relatively steady, right around 40-50% for the last century.
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My quick examination of this data shows that we started increasing our protein intake about 1945 and it leveled off about 1978 after which we traded one protein source for another. Of course, this excludes milk and eggs.
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