This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vegetables are the new elite foods

It is not uncommon in many human societies to associate eating vegetables with being poor--it means you can't afford more expensive things like meat and prepared foods. These days, however, Americans are shying away from vegetables partly because they are relatively expensive, especially when compared to food available at fast food hamburger joints. That has sent vegetables into the elite category:
Vegetables are making strides in certain circles. Women, as well as people who are older and more educated and have higher incomes, tend to eat more vegetables,
The vegetable, especially when grown from heirloom seeds on small farms, is held in such high esteem that knowing the farmer who grows the food is a form of valuable social currency. 
As we push death to later ages and degenerative diseases take over from communicable diseases as the major causes of death, our diet becomes one of the features of life that may influence the onset of those degenerative diseases. Thus, the CDC, and First Lady Michelle Obama, have been making the case for eating vegetables. It seems that this is going to require a few key people to adopt this "innovation" in order to reach a tipping point that will carry us back into the world of a diet full of good veggies.

5 comments:

  1. I think that much of this is true because vegetables are much more expensive than more unhealthy food like processed meat products that contain a lot of saturated fat and products that contain a lot of sugar (fast food). Educated and wealthy people tend to prefer healthier food like organic grown vegetables and fruit. Many wealthier regions in California like La Jolla and in Boulder, Colorado people are concerned with what they eat and are in bether fysical shape and healthier than many other places in the USA. This shows in mortality rates in the geodemographics.
    In Norway during and after the second world war people did not have much meat to eat and sugar was also hard to obtain. Consequently, they ate a lot of self grown vegetables. For many years after the war it was a much lower death rate because of cardiovascular diseases.

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  2. I think it is unfortunate that the kinds of food that are healthy for us, and that help delay degenerative diseases, are the foods that are becoming increasingly more difficult to attain. I would love to fill my kitchen with all kinds of fruits and vegetables, but the sad reality is that this kind of food is getting too expensive. Vegetables being perishable also makes it difficult for those who are on a lower socio-economic level to maintain them, let alone afford, to buy them. It takes a lot of effort and time to know what vegetables to get, how to store them, and prepare them for your meal. Since poorer people don't have the luxury of time, this adds to the difficulty of maintaining a diet of healthy food. Somehow it has gotten to the point where a healthy diet is a luxury. So those who cannot afford such a luxury will continue to pay, primarily by turning to foods that will lead them to an early grave. If this trend continues, and healthy food becomes more of a luxury, it will not be surprising to see the average life expectancy of Americans stop growing, or even begin to decrease.

    -Mark C.

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  3. This tipping scale is essentially the central concept which the documentary "Food, Inc." is based around. The increasing rate at which highly-processed, and unhealthy food is becoming more affordable than vegetables (organic, or not) is in part because of how much science and big-business has gone into food production. Unnaturally-corn-feed beef, riddled with disease because of it's grass-deficient diet, is "cleaned" with ammonia prior to being ground up into burgers for distribution to grocers and fast-food stores. Chickens are pumped full of growth hormones to the point where they die from immobility. Farmers are being driven out of business by GMO-patten-waving big-business, and all of this is what we are putting in our mouths.

    After seeing this film, I turned to my wife and promptly thanked her for her diligence when it came to converting me to the "organic way." We are now stepping it up by going beyond just buying the "organic" labels in the stores, but we are now researching local organic farm co-ops (CSA: Community Supported Agriculture), local organic meat ranches, local egg farms, etc... a good starting point for those who are interested is "www.sandiegoroots.org," or pick up pamphlets at your local farmer's market. This article has an extensive list of all the markets in the county: www.signonsandiego.com/feature/farmers-markets/

    You know there is something fundamentally wrong when bell peppers and big macs boast the same price.

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  4. Although it is true that vegetables generally cost more than a hamburger at McDonalds, more and more people are educating themselves about the harm that such a diet can induce on their bodies. This includes diseases which are increasing in frequency today, such as diabetes and cancer. Although some people may turn away from vegetables because of the cost, more and more people are seeking an alternative, that is, to grow their own food. It is relatively cheap to start up your own garden; costs include buying seeds (although you can get many from peppers, fruits, etc), fertilizer and gardening tools. The result is an abundance of vegetables and fruits, some of which you will probably end up giving away to neighbors and friends. Not only is gardening cost effective, but it is much more fulfilling than going to the grocery store and picking out vegetables or fruits that have been sitting on the shelf for an indefinite amount of time. I believe it is a big issue that vegetables are costing more than a big mac these days, however, instead of looking at this in a negative way, people should turn the situation around and be inspired to start their own gardens and have fresh produce available to eat daily.

    -Brielle Martell

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  5. This topic is such an important issue to talk about and think of solutions for. Children are found to have more diseases than ever before because of their unhealthy eating habits and unhealthy choices of food that are given to them. I always looked at children and even adults in our society that are overweight, thinking that they are uneducated about the right foods to eat, but it never hit me before reading this article that a huge problem is that these healthy choices (fruits, veggies, some meats) are expensive and not accessible to a lot of the population because of the high costs.

    From my personal experience, I can't tell you how many times I am hungry and choose an unhealthy choice like the dollar menu at McDonalds, just because all I have is a dollar and some change. Of course, I am going to take this route because I can get a "meal" instead of one piece of fruit for the same price at the grocery store.

    An idea that I have to help this problem will not cure the problem but could maybe be a first step to resolving this problem. My idea proposes that we should find more land for farming. Instead of using space for unnecessary things like golf courses, or casinos that take up a lot of space, we can use this for farming. Just bringing up the idea to the public and the importance of this issue will allow people to realize that our health should come first before anything. Without our health, than what is there? Finding more land to grow veggies is my idea of a first step to lessening this problem. We don’t to buy fruits and veggies from big chain groceries, we all should start going to our local markets. Making these local markets more aware to everyone could also help this problem. I know that I will start finding and supporting the local markets. This will help us get one step closer to health and less expensive, vital, food products.

    Another idea that I thought about is somehow using tax money to grow veggies and help the local farms to grow more of these products. The more money that these local places have, the more they can produce. Tax money is spent on things that should come second to our health. This is something that should be voted on and at least brought to people's attention. Great article that brings about awareness!

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