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The Defining Dozen: 12 Ways the American Diet Has Changed in the Last 30 Years

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In her new book, Devoured, author Sophie Egan takes readers deep into the American food psyche. Here, she reveals the most significant ways our national food culture has changed in the past 30 years—from KFC’s Double Down and the launch of viral foods to the decline in cooking at home.

1. Snacking is now a normal, socially acceptable part of daily life. A snack used to be for kids, who were excused from having to wait until prescribed meal times to eat. They’ve got a lot on their plates with all the growing and the freeze tag. But today, the taboo has been lifted for adults too. Americans now work 200 more hours per year than they did in 1970. In 2008, a USA Today poll revealed that every year since 1987, Americans reported being busier than the year before. It’s all about grabbing a bite on the run—say, a handful of trail mix from your desk drawer before the next meeting. Only 1 in 10 consumers does not snack multiple times a day, according to consumer insights firm The Hartman Group. Food marketers have aided and abetted the constant grazing by offering an ever-increasing array of portable foods, especially those that are one-hand-able. Take jerky, for example; sales are up 46 percent since 2009. The dried meat market has exploded with new flavors, packaging concepts, and artisan purveyors. Similarly, snack bars are one of the fastest-growing food items in the American diet in the last 30 years, market research firm NPD Group found. Fortune recently reported that there are now two thousand different combinations of fruit, nuts, grains, protein powders, and whatever else they put in there.

2. You’re not a loner for eating alone. An increased number of single-person households plays a part …read more

Source:: Bon Appetit