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What the World Eats [moved from Not About Food]

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Has anyone seen this Time magazine article? I thought it's very interesting comparing what families around the world are eating in a week. I am quite shocked too at how much money is spent on food.

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  1. This is extremely interesting. I heard the average american spends $59/week on groceries, though, so I don't think these large families are spending all that much. Especially with the exchange rate on the dollar (used to have 2x as much buying power in europe 10 years ago).
    Some things I noticed: why aren't the rich Chinese eating more vegetables, the Mexicans are drinking a lot of soda, obviously carbs ARE the way to go as evidenced by the thin Sicilians (and African regugees). I'm sorry the Andean people have NO protein, I didn't think they lived in such obvious poverty, at least the African refugees knew what meat was and didn't look like their growth had been completely stunted. Americans are eating way too much junk food, replace all of the junk with fruits and vegetables.

    7 Replies
    1. re: fara

      The photo of the Andean family shows several legumes--a major source of protein in the Andes.

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        does it? that would make sense, though it looked to me like everything was grains.

        1. re: fara

          fara, you're completely right. It is hard to tell. I looked again and can't quite tell what the three or four grains/legumes are. Can't tell what's in the closed bags either. On the other hand, having worked so much in the Andes, I would guess that some of the open piles and some of what are in the closed bags are legumes--at least common beans and most likely some others. But again, hard to tell. We are working on diets and health; and the family looks healthy.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I hope they are healthy, but to me they look malnourished. Did you know height has a greater correlation to protein consumption than to genetics? But I hope they're getting their legumes Sam, really. much too sad otherwise.

            1. re: fara

              We're working with stunting as a key indicator in our work. On the other hand, Penn State in the 70s did some human adaptation to hypocaloric, temperature, and altitude stress and found "stunting" that was perfectly healthy at very high altitudes. Those diets are legume rich. And they are next to the centers of domestication of common beans, peanuts, potatoes, amaranths, lupines, quinoa, and the like.

              email if you like. See my profile.

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              But if they're eating whole grains, they should get enough protein, shouldn't they? Your diet only needs to be 12% protein and whole grains are generally higher than that, maybe not rice and potatoes but flours, quinoa and such.

              In addition, it's not easy to tell who's malnourished by what they look like. I can't remember what the percent is but a large percent of americans, especially ones who are overeweight/obese are malnourished.

              1. re: chowser

                you're right about "malnourished." wrong word. how about not enough protein to grow tall?

      2. Funny, I was thinking just recently that somebody should do this project. Wow, look at all that packaging/branding. Another one I'd like to see is a typical weekday's worth of food for an adult, on standard size plates.

        1. Great: clearly shows the prepared and packaged food eating peoples vs. the fruit, vegetable, and legume eating peoples.

          1. Interesting to see where Coke, M&M/Mars, and McD products show up.

            1. By my subjective reckoning, 4 of the 16 have budget constraints, and 12 are only limited by the recklessness (or not) of their own choosing. But clearly the undernourished in the world are under-represented in this sample. Interesting kitchen voyeurism, though. The look of pride in the faces of the "4" is a hammer blow to the conscience.

              1. This was a very interesting article. I was also humbled by the people from Chad. I was very surprised to see the amount of soda different countries indulge in. Also that our Kelloggs cereal is popular in several countries. Also the KFC for the Chinese, I saw a 3 story one when I was there. This German family likes their beer.
                Lots of people are still very big bread eaters. It was nice to see what other people eat and know that I am within the American budget.

                1. Very interesting - thanks for posting it!

                  1. Interesting. First off, I was struck by the family from Japan...(my ancestry 4 generations removed) and how much packaged food they eat. It really made me stop and think about how much fresh vs. processed I put on my own table. Then as I scrolled through the pictures, I realized a lot of families each packaged food. I think I'll spend the next week looking at that in our home. Another thing I noticed, not having anything at all to do with food is that there are forms of currency I've never heard of!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrsmegawatt

                      I was also struck. I'm sansei (third) and still don't eat prepared and packaged food.

                    2. I own the book these pictures are from (Hungry Planet: What the World Eats) and it is a great read. My favorite part is how they show what a Big Mac costs in every country, and how much of an impact fast food has had on cultures outside of the US.

                      1. Wow.
                        Suddenly Polish food looks healthy (I guess I had a meat/potatoes stereotype, but their version of meat and potates looks miles ahead of Great Britain's).
                        Actually makes me realize that it might be ridiculous to feel guilty that once-a-month occasion when I make a box of Kraft Dinner (mac n cheese)...

                        1. Interesting, but not shocking, it it what I would expect, and other than the families in 3rd world, or developing countries very much in line with my family of my wife, my baby girl, and 2 cats. That is other than the heavily processed, pre packaged products I saw represented. We try not to eat those items, and cook from scratch when we cook as much as possible.

                          We typically spend probably between $200-$300 a week on groceries, eating out, and liquor/beer. We really dont budget, or keep track that closely.

                          1. What would be even more interesting would be to see how much food in each family is wasted each week.

                            1. I think this exhibit has been touring around - I saw it at Copia in Napa last year and it is back through September. Well worth a visit to see those photos huge and up close. http://www.copia.org/content/current_...

                              1. Thanks for posting that. I've already emailed to a couple of friends and my sister, all Canadian foodies. I was (naively? - never visited Mexico) shocked by the volume of processed food, most especially by the amount CocaCola the Mexican family was consuming... good lord... I drink that much in over five years, not a week! It was funny, in that I was thinking that I'd rather be having family dinner this evening in Bhutan or Ulaanbaatar rather than in the US or the UK. The amount of processed food purchased by the English family brought to mind the medical horrors of Jamie Oliver's school meals series. And, not quite the same as the Aboubakar family's fave, but I've had Somali goat soup... nutritious, and really lovely. I'd rather have that than a frozen pizza any day. (BTW, I'm not saying that as an idiotic, smug Canadian.... we have nothing of which to proud, as a society, as regards current diet.)

                                1. I found the article very interesting. I wonder if the photos and amounts spent include restaurant meals. If not, that might distort the picture of what people are eating.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cheryl_h

                                    I think it did include restaurant meals b/c I remember seeing fast food wrappers and pizza boxes in the American family's spread.