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Graphic power

(article, Culinate staff)

The coolest recent food graphics both focus on showing how America's eating habits have changed over time. First comes a March graph from the New York Times, showing how our meat-eating choices have changed over a century. Most interesting: the drop in beef consumption in the 1970s and the astonishing rise in popularity of chicken.

Second comes an April interactive chart showing how the country's "average daily calories available per capita, adjusted for spoilage and waste" have changed since 1970. On Grist, Tom Philpott crunched the chart to see how our caloric consumption has changed over time, focusing on added sugars and added fats:

bq. In 1970, the U.S. food system churned out 2,168 calories per day per person, of which 402 came from added sugar and 410 from added fat. Combined, that's 812 calories from additives, or about 37 percent of the total.

bq. Jump forward to 2008 (the last year for which there are figures), and you find that the food system cranked out 2,673 calories per person. That's an impressive 23 percent jump from the 1970 number — even more impressive when you recall that it's a per capita number and U.S. population rose significantly over that period. . . . As for added fats and sugars, their 2008 levels reached 459 and 641, respectively, for a total of 1,100 calories. That's a 35 percent jump over the 1970 level — and represents 41 percent of total calories available to U.S. consumers in 2008.