Looking at America Through its Food

A new demographic tool from the USDA compiles data about food choices and characteristics, allowing the creation of detailed maps. Edible Geography wonders what using food as a metric will tell us about the U.S.

The Food Environment Atlas was jointly developed by the USDA, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute, the National Farm-to-School Network, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and it compiles nearly 100 indicators.

"The Atlas currently maps ninety food environment indicators, divided into three broad categories. "Food Choices" includes both measurements of food access and consumption, from the number of supermarkets to per 1000 people to restaurant expenditures per capita. "Health and Well-Being" tracks dietary outcomes, such as hunger, diabetes, and obesity. And "Community Characteristics" adds an extra level of demographic data, including income levels and metro/non-metro status.

The idea, then, is that researchers, policy-makers, and individuals can compare counties across America, comparing and analysing the correlation between food choice, health outcomes, and population characteristics. So, what do you see when you look at America using food as the metric?"

Full Story: United States of Food



Soft drink consumption

I think something must be wrong with the map showing the soft drink consumption. Even at the low end, 49 gallons per person per year is the equivalent of nearly 1.5 twelve ounce (355 mL) cans per day. I know that quite a few people drink a lot of pop, but to have an average of 1.5 cans per day seems a bit over the top! Most people I know drink 2-3 cans per week, so there would have to be a lot of people drinking a ridiculous amount of Coke to make these stats work!

Incidentally, 89 gallons/person/year works out to 2.6 cans per day, which to me is just too much for an overall average.

Soda pop consumption

I know people who drink anywhere from 6 to 10 pops per day. So the average of 1.5 per person per day may not be too far off.

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