A Chart of How Americans Should Spend Their Food Budget... And How They Actually Do

The USDA’s economic research group put together a look at how an American food budget that actually follows dietary guidelines would break down—and then they put together one using the actual data on how Americans spend their food budget. Unsurprisingly, the two match up not at all.

Almost half of what we spend on our food goes towards either meats or “other foods” (a helpful catch-all category for junk food, including everything from jars of gravy to Snickers to Red Bull) and just 20% towards fruits and vegetables. That’s exactly the inverse of the recommendations, which suggest about half of our money going towards eating more plants and a little over 20% for our steak and unsettlingly-marketed energy drink budget.

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The problem was fairly equally distributed around various income brackets. In fact, though the actual dollars being spent varied quite a bit, the percentage breakdown of how households with yearly incomes of $25,000, $50,000 and $75,000 a year were all remarkably similar:

Top image: Shutterstock, Charts: USDA / ERS.

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