Image: A produce section, suitably empty of shoppers / rick

You know how much money you spend on food, but just where does that money go once you spend it? The answer, right down to the fraction of the cent, is here.

Advertisement

The USDA has released an update to its “food dollar” breakdown—a division of a single dollar into the exact amount every link in the long chain of people who bring you your food gets. So what’s new in the latest dollar compared to last year’s update? There’s a series of changes, all of which indicate a trend towards the same point: America is cooking for itself less and less.

Image: The new Food dollar / USDA ERS

The evidence for America’s declining cooking habits lies in which segments increased and decreased their share of the food dollar. The biggest increase was in the food service piece. Meanwhile, actual farming production costs remained precisely stable. The categories that dropped off to make room for the increase in food service costs weren’t on the farm—the biggest drops came in packaging, transportation, and wholesale trades, which are all costs that would be associated mostly with shopping at grocery stores.

Advertisement

Looking at other data backs up this idea. 2014 was also the year Americans crossed the threshold into spending more money eating out than eating at home. The trend seems to show no signs of slowing.