Notes from LinkedIN: Eating and Unemployment

I am honored to be on of the contributors to the recently launched LinkedIn INfluencers Program, an innovative new platform where thought leaders in industries from around the world can share their insights. Follow me and the many accomplished INfluencers here, but I just wanted to share my first post as part of the program, called "Eating and Unemployment."

Poverty in America looks very different from poverty in other parts of the world. Being poor in my home nation of Ethiopia means not having access to water, but eating incredibly delicious and healthy foods everyday. Being poor in the United States means cable TV, a house, a car, but not necessarily nutritous things to eat. Being unemployed only makes this problem worse. As of August, the national unemployment rate was 8.1%; in Harlem, where I live and operate my restaurant Red Rooster, the number is twice that. This financial insecurity means every dollar a family spends must go further than before; too often this leads to a sacrifice of many healthy, nutritious foods in their diets.

After the 2008 financial crisis, American families in general began spending less of their incomes on food. The category that took the biggest hit: fresh produce. People instead began turning more and more to quick and cheap calories at fast food places, where less than five dollars can buy you french fries, a burger, and a soda.

While shopping and cooking does take more time than going up to the drive-thru, a commitment to healthy eating can be both delicious and cost-effective. If you infuse rich flavors into your foods, I believe you can eat wonderfully and feel incredibly satisfied after eating less. And nourishing foods can also be budget friendly; here you can find my list of the best items that will protect both your wallet and your health when budgets are getting tight.