Hungry Planet – What the World Eats

Hungry Planet - What the World EatsPeter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

Menzel and D’Aluisio, authors of The Material World have created yet another fascinating collection of photos, stories and statistics from around the world. While The Material World focused on the material possessions of households around the world, this collection focuses on the diet and foods of everyday families. Families are photographed with a week’s worth of food, along with a general description of calorie intake for their country, expenditure of food, number of McDonald’s in the country and other related statistics.

Menzel manages to capture the human essence of the families and their everyday struggles to provide and cook healthy food. The family I found most interesting was the small family in Greenland, off on a hunting trip in sub-zero weather to fish. Other fascinating groups include Cubans, living off their monthly stipend from the government, the “eat it if it moves” southern Chinese, and the citizens of Okinawa, which boasts the highest rate of 100+ year old residents in the world. While American/pre-processed packaged food shows up in most of the countries, it is refreshing to hear of some families that either grow all their own food and shop only locally, purposefully shunning pre-packaged food, and others who simply cannot wrap their mind around people who do not have their own gardens.

Sadly, there are other families, like one in Mexico, that are baffled by their family obesity, tooth decay and diabetes, which not surprisingly seems to have come about around the time the family opened a small bodega and started drinking gallons of Coke a week. Also not surprising is the truly terrifying sight if an average American families grocery run – a few sad veggies sticking out between the chip bags. A great read or skim-through and a great incentive to go check out some cookbooks from the library!