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Donna Maurillo, Food for Thought | Looking at what we eat

Donna Maurillo, Food for Thought | Looking at what we eat

Donna Maurillo, Food for Thought | Looking at what we eat


As I was cruising online, I found some encouraging data about American dietary changes. On, I learned that in 1970, each person averaged 61 pounds of beef per year. But most recently, it slipped to 42 pounds. What replaced it? Chicken, which reached about 55 pounds per year.

Pork, eggs, and fish/shellfish remained about the same, at 33, 24, and 10 pounds, respectively. It would be even more encouraging if seafood increased a bit more, but it’s certainly true in our home that chicken outranks other kinds of protein.

No mention was made of tofu or other non-animal protein sources, but I do include them myself.

As for fresh vegetables (versus canned), potatoes topped the list in 1970, with 42 pounds per person each year. Now, they’ve slipped to about half that – but they still top the list. Iceberg lettuce came second in 1970, although it has almost no nutritional value. Now we prefer vitamin-packed leaf lettuce.

Tomatoes, onions, squash, spinach, broccoli, and carrots have risen up the list, while celery has lost ground. And forever ranking at the bottom are Brussels sprouts, eggplant and artichokes. For all we hear about kale, it’s almost insignificant.

What about fruit?

Apples ranked at 11 pounds per year, but now they’re at 9.5 pounds. Bananas have jumped to first place, from 8 pounds to 14 pounds now. Oranges were in third place in 1970, at just over 6 pounds per person, but now consumption is about half that. Watermelon, grapes and strawberries have climbed the ranks. Avocados also have made it big, moving from near obscurity to 3 pounds per person. (In our home, it’s more than that!)

Rounding out the list, in order, are pears, tangerines, pineapple, limes, cantaloupe, kiwi and lemons. Almost invisible are cherries, plums, papaya, apricots, cranberries and a few others. My beloved pomegranates aren’t even on the list!

As for juices, orange is still tops, although it’s gone from 3 gallons to 2 gallons per year. Apple juice is hot on its heels. Grapefruit juice has dropped significantly, probably because you can’t drink it if you’re on statins. Prune juice is dead last.

Whole milk came in at almost 18 gallons per year in 1970, but it’s dropped to 4 gallons now. In fact, all milk-based drinks have declined. But other dairy foods are up, especially yogurt. (Look at all the shelf space it takes up now!) Cheese is a big winner, too. We like American cheese, which still holds the top spot. But running close behind are cheddar and mozzarella. Cottage cheese has almost disappeared.

I was surprised that ice cream and similar frozen desserts are down overall, although you couldn’t prove it by me. But maybe they don’t count the homemade versions.

Other categories are included

Flour, both white and whole wheat, have jumped from 73 pounds per year to 83 pounds. Other kinds of grain, such as cornmeal and oats, barely make the mark.

Added fats have increased a lot, mostly salad and cooking oils, probably because many of them are unsaturated or polyunsaturated. Shortening and margarine are in less favor now, but butter has ticked up a little. Lard and beef tallow are at the bottom.

All told, it looks like we’re eating better foods. But statistics also say that we’re eating more and exercising less. That’s why we’re putting on the pounds. We’re also eating more convenience and fast foods, which means we’re not controlling the ingredients or the nutritional values.

These lists could have been enhanced if they told how much sugar we’re eating, along with breads, white rice and other low-nutrition foods. There’s a reason we’re heavier than ever.

Macalat? What’s that?

Do you like dark chocolate as much as I do? I mean, if you think that milk chocolate is for wimps and that nothing below 70% cacao is acceptable, then we’re in the same league.

But are you also someone who thinks that dark chocolate could improve if it were not so bitter and if it were just a little sweeter? But without the sugar? Now you know what Macalat is. It’s a premium dark chocolate bar made with all organic plant-based ingredients and “superfoods.” The secret is mushroom extract, which eliminates the bitterness and helps to sweeten the flavor.

I know. Mushroom extract? But it doesn’t taste at all like mushroom because there’s only a little bit. It really is a delicious bar. And it has all the qualities that premium chocolate should have — a good snap, a velvety mouth feel and a creamy melt.

Vegans will love it because it has no dairy or animal products. Retail shops are in the Southeastern U.S., but you can order online from or from Amazon.

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