what the world eats

time.com ran a brilliant little photo essay recently called “what the world eats.” photographer peter menzel traveled the globe and shot pics of families in 15 or 16 cultural settings, posing in their home with all the food they would consume in an average week. then, below the photo, the text gives the family’s name and location, the dollar amount of their weekly food use, and a few of their favorite foods or a family recipe.

of course, the difference between the $1.23 per week food cost of the aboubakar family of breidjing camp and the $341.98 expenditure of the revis family of north carolina is striking — but it’s also predictable. the real beauty of this photo essay goes way beyond that obvious (but still useful) point. there’s all kinds of nuance here, all kinds of beauty, even lots of whimsy.

here are a few of my favorite pics from the series; but you really have to click through and see them all. these would be, by the way, a fantastic ministry tool in a church or youth group (or, shoot!, family) setting.

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27
Family recipe: Pig’s knuckles with carrots, celery and parsnips

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Family recipe: Potato soup with cabbage

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03
Family recipe: Mushroom, cheese and pork

(ht to andy at think christian)

7 thoughts on “what the world eats”

  1. Another great collection by the same photographer is Material World: A Global Family Portrait. In this book, he photographs families in front of their homes, with all of their possessions arranged around them. The book includes statistics such as income, most valued possession, and so on. It was published in 1995, but it’s still eye-opening.

  2. I think the sad thing was that in the pictures from the US, all the food was in boxes…

  3. I’m a new visitor to ysmarko – found the link from the blog of some guy in New Zealand. The Internet is so cool.

    There’s another book called Women in the Material World, which documents the day-to-day lives of women in over 20 countries.

  4. Fascinating! I find it interesting that the family in Mexico were one of the few that had a ton of fresh produce, but they also had the most amount of soda. You think Coke has a huge presence in Mexico or what???

  5. Do you know if the researcher took into account the actual percentage of income spent on food when he conducted this survey? It would be really interesting to see that information. Or if he had taken each foreign family’s grocery list, found the price of each item on the list in an American grocery store, and then compared it to either of the American family’s totals.

Leave a Reply