The Next Bubble

We seem to live in a series of bubbles anymore. Something in our lives starts to take on disproportionate importance in our lives (stocks, housing, status, gadgets) and we feed into it until the bubble bursts, often leaving us angry and embarrassed. And adding fuel to the fire is that it has a negative impact on our pocket book. I don’t know what is going to happen economically over the next few years, but I’m sensing a bubble of a different sort, not about money, per se, but about the food we eat.

Drive down any street, and you are overwhelmed with the food choices that exist. I don’t have facts and figures about this (yet) but I’m betting the vast majority of it is unhealthy. Then meander over to recent health data and ask yourself why the obesity rate is as high as it is, or why so many Americans are overweight. I’m not suggesting any revelation here - there is way too much unhealthy, cheap food stuffed with empty calories that is fueling this health problem. What I’m wondering is if we’re facing a bursting of the food bubble as we humans wise up to the fact that we must eat healthy and safely.

How many fast food restaurants have been built over the last ten years? Twenty? I’m guessing it’s staggering. Think about the impact of all that construction and food processing on so many different industries. If we stop eating so much fast food, or processed food in general, the volume-based industry will collapse under it’s own weight faster than anyone could imagine. A few will transform into reasonable food options (I think McDonald’s has a fighting change because of efforts they have underway) and a few new entrepreneurs will launch healthy chains. But most will fall by the wayside because of their legacy of catering to our weaknesses.  

I think it’s inevitable. The fact that we must begin eating healthier and safer is immutable, because as we continue to experience the cost of unhealthiness we will be forced to change. When the cost of unhealthiness starts to hit our wallets (food taxes, insurance premiums, health care bills), we will have no choice. Perhaps the only saving grace is that it may take place over a period of time, which would allow resources and capital to be reallocated over time.

Just a thought that occurred to me driving in this morning, seeing fast food sign after fast food sign on the highway.