Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why we're stuck with unhealthy eating habits...

Or why it's so hard to reform our food system of eating too much fast food, eating out too much, and not getting enough exercise.

What it boils down to is that we are working too much -- especially true for women, who traditionally have been responsible for taking care of a household's food needs (one way or the other). We just don't have time to make sure we eat healthfully, get enough exercise, and generally live a healthy lifestyle.

Here's a chart that more or less explains the problem:

"Although median wages for two-parent families have increased 23 percent since 1975, the evidence suggests that this is not the result of higher wages. Rather, these families are just working more. In 2009, for instance, the typical two-parent family worked 26 percent longer than the typical family in 1975.
... The 26 percent increase in hours worked mainly reflects increases in work outside of the home among women. In fact, among two-parent families with median earnings, the hours of men were relatively constant over time, while hours worked by women more than doubled from 1975 to 2009. It was this increased contribution to work outside of the home, mostly by women, rather than wage increases, that led to higher earnings for the typical two-parent family. [Emphasis added.]

As blogger Tom Laskawy ( writes:

It's very hard to make change in the food system in an environment where wages are flat. The low and decreasing costs of industrialized food and low-nutrient, high-calorie "food products" have stood in for wage increases for the past several decades. And any call for consumers to cook more runs up against the reality that we (women in particular) are working more hours than ever. And let's be clear: While the division of labor in the home is changing, women still perform 40 percent more housework than men 
In fact, it appears that what wiggle room there is for food-system reform lies in men picking up some serious slack in the shopping and cooking arena. As a father who does a fair amount of both, I know it's possible. But that's not saying it will be easy -- and it does nothing to address the persistent problem of stagnant wages. Perhaps faced with the prospect of doing more around the house, men will begin to organize and agitate for higher wages? C'mon, guys! It's one or the other!

I'm all in favor of getting our husbands and boyfriends to take on more responsibilities in the kitchen. If that increases the ranks of healthy foodies in this world, hooray!

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