In 2017, $5.61 trillion was spent on restaurants and bars. And this amounted to to 4.3 percent of all personal consumption. We also spent trillions on food for in home-use use. That’s impressive, right. On the other hand, Americans eat a lot AND fast. Furthermore, our obesity level is at an all-time high — and rising.
How do we compare with other countries in our eating habits?
Uh Oh: Americans Eat a Lot AND Fast
Consider these observations from Thomas L. Johnson, writing on Quora:
“For Americans, eating a meal is like ‘filling the tank.’ Food is fuel. And refueling is not exactly an activity that they believe in stretching out. When I had my first job working in the paper mill, I got 20 minutes during the middle of the shift to eat the lunch my mother had packed into the lunch pail for me. Well, mostly bologna sandwiches on white bread with a side of Doritos corn chips. Twenty minutes was more than enough time to fuel up, go to the bathroom, and get ready for another four hours throwing logs onto conveyor belts.”
“For Europeans, the pressure to get onto the next thing is not part of the culture. I have never met a French person yet who feels that anything less than an hour is adequate for a noon lunch. At the end of a meal, you never get the ‘did you get enough to eat?’ question. You are more likely to be asked what you thought of the steak tartare or the celery root salad. And you are perfectly free to tell the truth.”
“It’s cultural. Americans always have places to go, things to do. If anything, the meal is a distraction. In central Europe, there is always time to slow down, to burrow in, and to really taste whatever it is that the cook (who is not an 18 year old recent graduate of Hamburger U.) has decided to cook that day.”
And Statista’s Niall McCarthy adds:
“In many countries, taking time over a meal is normal, according to data from OECD. People in France tend to spend the most time eating and drinking per day on average at 2 hours and 13 minutes. But, eating is much faster in North America. Canadians spend an hour and five minutes eating and drinking per day. In the United States, it’s just an hour and two minutes.”