Read Part 1 here.
So where did we leave off? OH yes, the connection between $, food, and health.
To sum up: we’re spending a huge percentage of our income of healthcare and only a measly itsy bitsy 7% on food. What the heck else are we buying? Well, the article goes on to provide a detailed breakdown of what, exactly, we spent our money on. This part in particular spoke to me (formatting done by me):
“Has the much heralded age of austerity really come? As you can see from our snapshot of the changes in monthly household spending over the past four years, it’s a mixed picture. Following the financial crisis and recession, consumer spending dropped in 2009 for the first time in 71 years, but we didn’t close our wallets completely. Each month, the average adult American buys $3,710 worth of goods and services (which includes direct purchases as well as such expenses as employer-funded health care plans bought on our behalf), according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Adjusted for inflation, that’s down just 2%, from $3,784 four years ago.
Instead of cutting back wholesale, we have traded down. Americans are spending more on games and hobbies, bikes and outdoor equipment, fostering homemade fun, than we did before the downturn; we are laying out less for speedboats, foreign cars and six-burner professional stoves. Foreign travel is down, but splurges on nights at U.S. hotels are up. We are spending less on sporting events and amusement parks but more at the movies–and on TV viewing [...]
We haven’t become as thrifty as some economists might have expected. But what we define as splurges and necessities has changed. Expenditures on cell phones, cable television and Internet service, for instance, have not been dented one bit by the recession. ‘Connectivity has joined food, shelter and sex as a necessity,’ says consumer-behavior expert Paco Underhill. ‘In a pinched era, we need all the community we can get.’” Source
Welp… Maybe I add “priorities” to my list of reasons from last post about why people sometimes struggle to purchase, cook, and consume healthy foods. And I gotta ask, what happened to good, old-fashioned communities?
My point with these series of posts is that we’re spending less now than at any other time in the past 60 years on the foods we buy and are as sick as can be with chronic disease (which is proven to be related to poor diet) but refuse to cut our “communication” budget. We are placing a higher premium on cell service, texting, and internet than on the very thing which fuels and supports our lives. As an aside, we are spending more on “communication” yet many of us are less connected. Again, this isn’t new or even eye opening information. But something about seeing it laid out right in front of me was rather terrifying.
Now has technology done amazing things for humans? Yes…to some extent. I love being able to easily and quickly stay in touch with people via e-mail or Facebook, sharing my thoughts with you all on here, and working my business’ maximum potential using online marketing. It makes life easier. But at what cost (literally and figuratively)? But again, I ask how has it gotten to the point where having unlimited internet on our cell phones is more important that having wholesome foods on our table?
Well we know industry plays a role but it also speaks to human nature. We all have a need to be connected and accepted. For many of us, technology provides that, whether it is through an online community or something else. And so we stick to it, we, dare I even write it, hide behind it. Its easy to block our our pain, emotional or physical, when we are connecting with our virtual BFF. Its easy to pretend that everything is ok when others are supporting us with their uplifting words on discussion boards. And its easy to just go on feeling numb because, at the end of the day, we always have our internet communities to hold us up.
But I ask again, at what cost?
I’m by no means immune from this: I’ve just become aware of the issue and try to catch myself whenever I am falling into the trap of stumbling around online just to kill the time. Turning inward during times of difficulty is what I do (anyone else with me on this?). Connecting with others is what I really should be doing. Or cooking up something fantastic.
Shifting back to the topic at hand: I’m certainly not judging anyone for whom acquiring the latest and greatest commodity is a priority. Its just not for me. Ok and to be honest, I actually might judge you a little bit if you aren’t feeding yourself or your family right first. Because we’ve got this one life and this one body and all that other happy horse you-know-what. Unfortunately, all of that is true. Also true is the fact that we keep getting sicker…and refuse to cut back on our commodity purchases but complain about the (not really outrageous, just high compared to the cheap non-food that is on the shelves) price of wholesome food.
One last point that I think often gets lost in the shuffle: the opposite of the standard American diet (*insert ridiculous remark about how the acronym is SAD) isn’t a 100% organic raw vegan diet. Not by any means. In fact, when money got tight (*cue dark music*) for me, I had to readjust my priorities too. Did I want to have enough food each week or did I want to have all organic food? I know you aren’t surprised that I went with the former! And thus my excitement/love/obsession with the Wegmans bulk spinach. Because, of course, I would decide to start drinking green smoothies at the same time that I need to tighten my belt. Go me.
Oh and in case you are wondering, the first budget-tightening I did involved dropping to a lower plan on my phone. I totally did it for the spinach.
Yoga, beauty, life.