What the World Eats

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food - Egypt.jpg

Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio's book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats has been out since 2005, but I didn't see it until today. It has been bouncing around Facebook lately, and it turns out it was featured on Time's website in a three-part series at some point. (Parts I, II, and III)

The concept is simple: families from around the world are photographed with all the food they eat in a normal week, and the cost of the food is calculated and included in the caption.

The high:

The Melander family of Bargteheide (Germany)
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

The low:

The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp (Chad)
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

My wife noted that families in the industrialized countries, especially the U.S. and Britain, ate a lot of processed food compared to those in the developing countries, who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. Also, people up north are really into narwhal.

It looks like food expenditures of some middle or lower-middle class families in the U.S. are on par with some families in middle-income countries like Mexico or Turkey. But the photos of the families in Chad, Bhutan, Mali, and Ecuador provide a clear look at the massive consumption differentials between rich and poor countries. These wealth differentials are facilitated and preserved by strict control of movement of labor, capital, and goods across borders and rigid adherence to the nation-state system of wealth distribution.

That's fine if you are a middle-class family in France, Japan, or Saudi Arabia--not so great if you are living in a refugee camp in Chad.

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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on February 22, 2009 11:18 PM.

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