Wretched Excess

I saw a late-night TV commercial last night for one of those “all you can eat” buffets. Five hundred entrees, bottomless soup and salad bar, eighty different types of dessert, and four cardiac defibrillation stations. Ecstatic children piling chicken tenders on top of their banana splits. Dad eating enough fried shrimp to threaten the Louisiana shrimp industry. Mom was the only one demonstrating any dietary discretion. She was enjoying a deep-fried kale salad to go with her 10-cheese 7 layer lasagna. Fearing that I would soon witness this family of four exploding all over the restaurant like poor Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, I turned the station and lo and behold, I ended up on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”  I guess I was hungry. Next time, I’ll just head to the fridge earlier for my snack instead of living vicariously through the TV.

This food frenzy got me to thinking though. We Americans consume God awful amounts of food. Every fast food chain suggests you “super-size your order. Casual chain restaurants now tout their “never ending appetizers.” Even Starbucks loves you more as a customer when you pass over the former size-champion Venti and go for the new 31 oz Trenta to go along with that cake pop on a stick (or two) you just have to grab for breakfast. Nothing can get you going in the morning like downing a quart of coffee…literally.  Hmmm.  Just how much food do we consume in a year?

I decided to do some research on this. Cause you know, it’s late at night and sleep is for babies. What started as an innocent inquiry into what we eat every year, turned into a dark journey into terror. Believe it or not, in one year you will have likely eaten one ton of food! Yes, the FDA figures it out to be an average of 1,996.3 pounds. But hey, if you’re a perfectionist like me, just buy those extra two Trenta caramel lattes (with whipped cream!) at your corner Starbucks every week and you’ll get to that perfectly rounded 2,000-pound mark, easy peasy.

I mean, really? A ton of food in a year? That’s more weight than a Mitsubishi Mirage. Thank God for efficient digestive systems!  It got even more terrifying when I checked to see how the weight was split up. I don’t know what possessed me to go looking, but go looking I did.

People apparently love their dairy. As a society, we keep the dairy industry afloat. Each of us, on average – because of course some people don’t eat or drink dairy at all, consumes 781.5 pounds of milk, yogurt, and other dairy products a year. Add in another 31.4 pounds if you eat cheese.

We eat 32.7 pounds of eggs.  That works out to 253 eggs apiece for the math impaired (and just so you know, I used a calculator for that…cause you know, technology).

What about meats? Apparently, each person will go through about 62.4 pounds of red meat, 46.5 pounds of pork, 60.4 pounds of chicken, and 23.2 pounds of turkey in their yearly feasting. I bet most of that turkey consumption is on Thanksgiving weekend alone.

I couldn’t find stats on other types of meat and it’s just as well. Just knowing the above made me sick enough.

As for the veggie side of things, we eat 415.4 pounds of vegetables every year to go with that massive portion of meat already on our plates.  Seriously though, we need these veggies to counter the over 85 pounds of butter and oil we eat per year. Ugh.

If you have a three-year-old toddler (if you don’t then, borrow one), pick him or her up.  Pretty hefty, right?  Now put the toddler down and close your eyes. Now open your eyes and pretend that the cute toddler has turned into a pile of delicious French Fries. Okay, don’t roll your eyes at me…this is just a visualization technique. Good grief.  Anyway, do you see that toddler size pile of fries?  Now know this, each year the average American will consume 31.1 pounds of fries…the average weight of a three-year-old.

It gets worse.  Cause we haven’t even discussed snacks. And who doesn’t love snacks? You’re looking at 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream (which I could do in one week if my wallet and my doctor would let me), 53 gallons of soda (I think I’m above average on this one…not exactly the goal my mother was shooting for when she claimed I had potential), and a terrifying 3 pounds of salt. Three. Pounds. Of. Salt. No wonder blood pressure is on the rise nationwide.

So, yeah. While I am more enlightened and more knowledgeable, which is never a bad thing, my late-night journey into the realm of our society’s consumption levels left me a little worse for wear. I almost couldn’t finish my bag of chips and pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel-Sutra.

9 thoughts on “Wretched Excess

  1. Staggering numbers! But our diets (or lack thereof) can be an extremely powerful motivator. Remember, the Age of Exploration in Europe started after Marco Polo brought spices back from the Orient. I remember in junior high school having this demonstrated to us in a class where we fixed and ate a typical 13th century peasant diet every day for a week. When a pinch of salt was worth it’s weight in gold and the diet was so bland that starvation sounded better by the day, emptying out the kingdom’s coffers to find a route to bring pepper and oregano was a good deal.

    The problem is that we never know when to quit while we’re ahead. If a scoop of Karamel-Sutra is good, a pint must be better and a half gallon even better yet, right? Okay, that’s a bad example, but you get the idea.

  2. you had me at ice cream. and just how much does that new super sized coffee from Starbucks cost? probably more than I pay for a package of Caribou coffee that lasts me I dunno how long. it’s coffee, yanno? hot water poured over crushed beans? Good Lord! some people may as well leave their weekly earnings at Starbucks. where was I? oh yeh …

    you had me at ice cream.

  3. Your scary awful statistics actually made me feel better since I can look at most of them and from that I am not average. If I eat French fries 5 times in a year it’s a lot. Probably do my share on the dairy, and certainly on the fruit and veggies, but not the rest. Also makes me feel better that into my seventies now and have kept my same weight for several years in the healthy range. Do feel for whoever is getting sick and fat eating my share!

  4. Good stats. I’m ashamed to admit that I took my grandchildren to McDonalds this week and I had a double cheeseburger (my favourite on the menu) I enjoyed it so much that I had a second. When I got home I couldn’t eat my tea!

  5. The crazy thing is I only spend about $20 a week at grocery and since I work l o n g and HOT days at no air conditioning warehouse my doctor told me to add salt! Haha 😀
    I usually get salads as a sub for fries but I’m like Andrew ask for the two for $2 (McDoubles) and as a single grandma, find the cost still better than having to buy a lb of hamburg to cook up.
    As an alternative, I often get a side salad and McChicken sandwich and put the greens on a plate, chop the sandwich (all white meat, no GMO) onto it.
    The light balsamic vinaigrette all cost me $2 and the medium iced coffee with caramel is only $1. The McCafe grounds are sold at supermarket and nice dark flavor.
    You did us a huge favor by researching and we should bookmark this post!!! Thanks!
    I love pralines and cream so I bet I would love your fave ice cream. 🍨🍦

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