We're Killing Ourselves to be Rich

Today's blog post is a little philosophical, but hang in there with me. It is about eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. It's all about the lifestyles that we choose for ourselves.

I've always felt grateful for having been born into middle-class America in modern times. Those of us who can say that are, by anyone's estimate, among the richest people to have ever lived. Really. When you think about all the people who have ever lived throughout history, we are in the top 1%. They are that other 99%. And even just taking today's populations, all of us in the United States who are middle class are living much, much better than the rest of the world.

According to this calculator of global wealth, if a person in the United States makes $50,000 a year, then that person is in the top 0.31% of world incomes. That means that 99.69% of the people in the world make less than that person in the United States. Even if you make half that, $25,000 a year, you're still in the top 2% of the world's population. That is, 98% of the people in the world make less income than you do.

What about looking at wealth instead of income? Here it opens up a little. If you have no home equity, $5,000 in possession and $10,000 in the bank, then you are among the top 27% of the world's population in terms of wealth. If you have more than that, then you will continue to become more and more in that top tier of rich people. We may not feel rich. We may just feel ordinary. But that's only because we live in a society where everybody else lives the same as we do. And only somebody else who has more money will seem rich to us.

So, what does this have to do with food or health or lifestyle or diet? Well, I think it has a lot to do with it. When I look around, what I see is that we're killing ourselves in order to be rich. We've become so busy in our careers and in shuttling our children to competitive after-school activities one after another, that we no longer have time to cook for example. So, we opt for convenience foods. In today's world, that doesn't necessarily mean what we used to call TV dinners either. It can mean pizza or cold cereal or cake mixes where you just add milk or water or packaged noodles and rice dishes (just add water and microwave or heat) or salad bags with everything needed for the salad in the bag. Even in the produce department, there's already diced onions and diced peppers. No need to slice and dice. Just open the container and take what you need.

Why do we have all this? It's because we're short on time. We don't have time to cook a good, healthy meal from scratch using whole foods or plant-based foods. So, we opt for those things that are quick and easy to make. We opt for those things that can be thrown in the microwave, heated and eaten. Or we go out to eat.

But whether we go out or stay home and heat (don't call it cooking), the truth is, we are sacrificing our health. We're a sick society. And the evidence for that can be found within pharmaceutical industry sales. Drugs are big business. But why? They're big business mainly because they're purchased to manage disease. They manage diseases that we already have. And we have those diseases because of our lifestyles. We don't have good diets for one thing.

So, we buy convenience foods in order to maintain our busy lifestyles, the purpose of which when you get right down to it, is to keep us rich. It's nice to have what we have. I like it too. But we should draw the line when it comes to killing ourselves. Is it worth it to die twenty years or more too soon from a heart attack or a tumor? Or wouldn't we be happier to slow down, cook more and become healthy.

In the words of Robert Frost, on this one, I've decided to take "the path less traveled" and to do what it takes to stay healthy for as long as I can. I hope you have too. I would rather be among the world's healthiest people than I would to be among the world's richest people.