Although there is the popular stereotype that Americans run off of fast food and food laced with chemicals, fried and processed foods are not among the top five most consumed foods by Americans. Surprisingly, four of the five most consumed foods are actually considered “healthy” by many dieticians. The five most consumed foods by Americans are: milk, cereal, bottled water, soft drinks and bread.
Before the 19th century industrial boom, the majority of Americans were farmers. With this in mind, it makes sense that milk became a staple of the American diet, and many American recipes include milk. The FDA estimates that the average American will consume 30 gallons of milk per year. Although in some areas of the United States, such as farming communities, milk is consumed raw, milk is often bought after it has been processed and categorized into whole milk, 2%, 1% or skim milk. Milk is often consumed as a drink, either alone or mixed with other foods (notably breakfast meals) such as cereal and oatmeal. Milk is also an important ingredient in many products and recipes, such as: cheese, yogurt, cakes and pancakes.
Cereal, although traditionally a breakfast food served in milk, can be eaten throughout the day (either served with cereal or by itself). There is a wide variety of cereals to choose from, ranging from the healthier (lower in sugar, calories, carbs, ext.) choices such as Granola, Raisin Bran and Wheaties, to the more more sugary Froot Loops, Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes. Cereal advertisement is also an important industry. Companies tend to develop a character to represent their cereal (such as Tony the Tiger) in hopes of marketing their cereal. Cereal companies also offer periodical prizes within their cereals, such as CDs, free downloads and toys in further hopes of reaching more customers.
Although not technically a “food”, bottled water ranks as the third most consumed product by Americans. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the rise in Americans choosing bottled water over tap; most notably the get-fit campaigns that have begun to plague the news and television commercials. Celebrities and health experts are calling upon Americans to control their weight and get healthy, and they usually endorse a bottled water brand in the process. Some Americans also chose bottled water, believing that this is safer than the traditional tap. The rise in bottled water use, however, has also brought about criticism from environmental groups. These groups claim that bottled water creates a giant carbon footprint, from the energy needed to create the plastic, transport the bottled water and the lack of bottles recycled. Instead of bottled water, these groups suggest that each person buys one large water bottle, that they refill from tap instead of buying bottled water.
Sodas and energy drinks make up the soft drink category that ranked among the five most consumed foods in America. Even though consumption of these drinks are often discouraged by health officials, due to their high sugar content and links to obesity, soft drinks have been among the five most consumed foods for the past decade. Soft drinks are easy to buy, available at almost every store, restaurant and vending machine. Although their a known health risks, few experts expect that soft drinks will be knocked out of the top five anytime soon, with the average American consuming 50 gallons of soft drinks per year.
Since bread is easily served with almost any dish at any meal, it’s easily understandable that it’s in the top five most consumed American foods. At breakfast, bread is often served as toast or bagels, both of which can be offered in a variety of ways. At lunch, bread is used as sandwich bread, again, which can be served on a variety of ways depending upon the consumer’s personal taste. At dinner, bread is often served as rolls or breadsticks.
Although fast food is often stereotyped as an American food, fast foods cannot be found in the top five most consumed foods by Americans. Although there are unhealthy choices among the top five foods, such as soft drinks and sugary cereals, the majority of top five foods are healthy and important to any healthy diet, such as milk, water and bread.