How America’s diet has changed over the decades. Americans are eating more chicken and less beef than they used to. They drink less milk — especially whole milk — and eat less ice cream, but they consume a lot more cheese. Your diet contains less sugar than in previous decades, but much more sweetener derived from corn


But American food culture, according to Jones, has changed in such a way that most Americans today don’t know much about eating or preparing food. Combined with time constraints due to the hectic schedule, Americans are now more sedentary, eat more processed foods, and don’t consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables. These practices, Jones said, have contributed in part to an increase in obesity and diet-related illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Growing up in a city, I always thought of nature as a farm — hay bales, cackling chickens, babe the sheep pig


I didn’t know that there was nothing fundamentally natural about agriculture since this practice began around 12,000 years ago. Humanity’s first foodie turn came when we gave up the thrill of the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and decided to settle down, grow some vegetables, have a garden, and act like reasonable adults. This change — the agricultural revolution — was the beginning of civilization as we know it. In the past, food cultures changed slowly as external influences were added


These outside influences came from individual travelers, immigrants, and even companies. In many African cities, 70% of the calories consumed by the urban poor today come from street food suppliers (Devex). That’s why Jones promotes these types of easy-to-make, nutritious recipes in brochures on UNL Extension’s dedicated food website and on her Discover Foods blog. If Wrangham is right, cooking not only gave early humans the energy they needed to build bigger brains, but also helped them get more calories from food so they could

gain weight.

One of the saddest changes in the food sector in the last 50 years is the sheer amount of waste that has become the norm. We’ve become so good at processing food that, for the first time in human evolution, many people eat more calories than they burn in a day. A combined concern for animal welfare and the environment, increased awareness of sources in the American food chain, and new information about the potential health benefits of a plant-based diet changed all that. The human brain evolved to find food, and social media influencers have tapped into the brain’s original reward system with a bizarre and extremely popular media genre that focuses on enticing images

of food.

In the 1970s, companies began to produce and promote microwave-specific foods, and by the 1980s, microwaves were the rule, not the exception, in the American home. What frustrates some people is that a balanced diet requires knowledge of what nutrients are in different foods and how those nutrients are consumed. Organizations like the Red Cross and the World Food Programme are working to get much-needed food deliveries through the line of fire. Jones says diet-related illnesses are common among low-income and minority groups, who tend to live in areas where fresh, nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables,

are scarce.

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 finally required that virtually all foods sold in the United States include clear labeling of ingredients, portion sizes, and daily intake recommendations.