Hungry Planet: What the World Eats

“I can’t imagine there has ever been a more gratifying time or place to be alive than America in the 1950s,” wrote Bill Bryson in his new book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. As evidence, he included a photo of the Czekalinksi family of Cleveland, Ohio, lined up in front of a years worth of food that an average American family ate in 1951. “Among the items they were shown with were 450 pounds of flour, 72 pounds of shortening, 56 pounds of butter, 31 chickens, 300 pounds of beef …” and so on, “… all purchased on a budget of $25 a week.”

The contents of a pantry can be quite revealing – I don’t even have a pantry, if that tells you anything about my spontaneous eating habits. But just how different is the food I eat from the food someone in, say, Sweden eats? How about Burundi? Photojournalists Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio set to find out just how groceries differ among families around the world in their new photography book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.

“Today we are witnessing the greatest change in global diets since the invention of agriculture. Globalization, mass tourism, and giant agribusiness have filled American supermarket shelves with extraordinary new foods—and McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Kraft Cheese Singles are being exported to every corner of the planet.”

The book profiles the weekly food allowance of 30 families in 24 different countries, ranging from a German family whose budget is roughly $500 USD per week, to another in Darfur who spends a meager $1.44 USD in the same amount of time—each profiled with captivating photos, nutrition facts, essays, and item-based cost breakdowns. It really puts things into prospective.

For more information on Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, visit NPR Also did a wonderful piece on it which you can listen to on their website,

Posted by | Comments Off on Hungry Planet: What the World Eats  | December 5, 2006
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

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