Western Diet: 14 Species?

“90% of the western diet is made up of just 14 species of plant and animal that we eat over and over again”

This statement is made in a blog I read and I’m wondering what might be the 14. Thinking on what I eat, I would list Corn, beef, chicken, pig, potatoes, wheat, tuna, turkey, beans, coffee, tea, sugar, oatmeal, rice.

Does anyone have a refrence that this quote may based on or additions/subtractions to the list?

the blog is:

The refrence is about a 1/4 of the way down the page.

I ask about this in general questions because there is proably a source for the quote and thus a factual answer. My guess above is just an opion based on my experience. Please move if its best served in In My Humble Opion or other.

Salt, I is not on my list because it is a mineral and not a species?

“Beans” is not a species, but a bunch of different species.

You probably missed some important vegetables, too: broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes…

If you can get a hold of this book: The Omnivore’s Dilema, you might be able to find some info. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that is the source of the quote.

Onions and peppers are extremely popular, surely entering the 90% at least in the United States. And lots of people enjoy orange juice for breakfast. So that’s three more. We could list veggies and fruits all day, but we’d have to compare their popularity to see if most people eat them on a semi-regular basis.

What does “90% of our diet” mean? Are you going by the food’s weight, caloric content, number of items consumed, etc. If caloric content, I have no problem accepting that figure. Many of the non-starch vegetables have negligible calories.

I do not know the specifics, but the quote the blogger was refering to I am assuming means something like 90% of what the typical westerner eats from only 14 species of plants and animals. So whether its the caloric content or number of items is undefined. I was just wondering if anyone could shed some light on the source of the quote or if the list I supposed was realistic and if I was missing something.

True, but if we’re counting by calories, we’d probably want to add rapeseed and other vegetable oil sources. Plus sugar cane and/or sugar beets (though corn does supply a lot of sweet, through HFCS).

I don’t have time to sift through the mountain of data, but all you could ever conceivably want to know about the US food supply is available at this cite.

It’s important to note that many processed foods contain ingredients different from what you’d expect. For instance, almost all packaged desserts and soft drinks are made with high fructose corn syrup rather than sugar. This is mainly because government subsidies and tariffs keep the price of corn low and the price of sugar high. Actual cane sugar products are quite rare, so I’d be surprised if sugar is one of the top 14. On the flip side, almost all processed foods contain some soy product, so I’d bet that’s among the 14.

(By the way, if you’ve never tried soda made with real sugar, you’ve been missing out on one of life’s great pleasures.)

Yeah, right. A wonderful, magical animal.

I’d say it’s an oversimplification, at best, but probably just a false assertion that someopne pulled out of their ass. Just thinking about the really common stuff:

Beef
chicken
lamb
pork
turkey
prawns (several species at least)
fish (lots of species)

potatoes
rice
wheat
parsnips
carrots
tomatoes
onions
cucumber
peppers
pumpkin/squash/zucchini (several species)
beans (quite a few species)
peas
corn
mushrooms

Oranges
apples
bananas
grapes
strawberries
peaches/nectarines
plums

-That’s well over 14, and there are plenty of quite common things left out, I’m sure.

IF I had to cull it down to 14 (the 14 most eaten) I’d alter** Mangetout’s** list to the following:

Beef
chicken
pork
turkey
tuna

potatoes
rice
wheat
tomatoes
onions

Oranges
apples
bananas
grapes

Oh, and don’t forget:

Barley. (in liquid form!)

and that 89% of all statistics are made up on the spot!

But the OP specified western diet, not US diet. No such incentives for the use of maize starch for sugar exist in the rest of the western world an consequently cane or beet sugar prdeominates. So we really do need to add cane to the list.

Robz: I see that you and I just simulposted comments on the original blog post asking the author for clarification! Well, let’s see :slight_smile: Hopefully she’ll respond with the Straight Dope.

And even if we ignore the western/US distinction, almost nobody cooks with high fructose anything: cane sugar is a staple in pretty much every kitchen, and used in lots of recipes.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 50% of the average American’s diet by calories wasn’t covered by corn (counting corn oil and HFCS), rice, wheat, rye, oats and oranges. Eggs and chicken are one species, all dairy and beef are another.
Regardless of what they mean by 90% though, it sounds like a pretty boring diet. I think I eat more than 14 species in meat alone: Cow, lamb, pig, chicken, turkey, duck, buffalo, shrimp, tuna, salmon, cod, pollock, catfish, squid, mackerel, swordfish, clams, scallops and throw in the occasional deer and rabbit. I doubt any particular one accounts for more than 15-20% of my animal consumption.

Wouldn’t soybeans be pretty high up on any listing that included processed foods?

It sounds like they wanted a statistic, so they looked at the percentage of of food product sources by weight. They then looked for a point on a curving chart and said here’s where a lot of stuff starts showing up in small volumes of the total consumed. I wouldn’t credit most of our food only containing these items. I wouldn’t credit the site with correctly collecting data, or analyzing it in a meaningful way. The way this is analyzed it useful to somebody that want’s to convince people the lose of a food source will starve us off. A meaningful analysis for the variety in the American diet would look at how many of what ingredient are used in the most consumed foods. A better sample would take random persons and track everything they ate in a period and then look at how many times each ingredient was in the consumed food.

In point of fact, it’s a musical fruit.

The more you eat…