In the book What the World Eats, you meet 25 families around the world, see a photograph of the family with all the food they consume in one week, and read a listing by category of what they ate. Inspired by this fun & fascinating book, my husband & I measured and documented all the food that we consumed in one week. We then gathered the full amount and displayed it for a photograph, just like they do in the book.
Click here to view a list of our week’s worth of food, broken down into the same categories that author Faith D’Aluisio and photographer Peter Menzel (husband and wife team) use.
One of the most interesting things to me in What the World Eats was the diets of the people who were the poorest of the poor, the “Bottom Billion” that economist Paul Collier talks about in his book of the same name. For one thing, it was interesting to me to see what they eat, just out of curiosity. For instance, one family of 6 in a refugee camp subsisted mainly on their rations of sorghum and a corn-soy blend (also very tiny amounts of beans, sugar and vegetables). But more important than curiosity, I also think it is helpful for those of us who have plenty, to be reminded of this, for many different reasons. There are a billion people in the world, according to Collier, who live on less than a $1 a day (the international poverty line). Collier was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered the other day (click here to listen to the interview) because of his unique ideas in The Bottom Billion on how to solve the world’s economic problems.
Here are some other books on food from a global standpoint:
In Defense of Food: an eater’s manifesto by Michael Pollan 613 POL: This book was written as an afterword to The Omnivore’s Dilemma. This author is part of the movement to bring back real food, encouraging people to “vote with their forks”.
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio 641.3 MEN: This is an extended version What the World Eats with more families, photos & information.
Real Food: what to eat and why by Nina Planck 613.2 PLA: This book explains the dangers of eating “fake food” and encourages us to eat more whole foods, much like Michael Pollan recommends.
Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins 338.1 LAP: This book was written in 1977 but has a lot of good history and information about the causes and possible solutions for global food problems.
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon 641.5 FAL: This book is one part encyclopedia, one part cookbook. I’ve recommended it before for other reasons, but also find that it fits in this case because there is so much information in it about real food, the food industry and some of the politics that go along with it.
Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at Oliver Wolcott Library and is currently humming What the world needs now is love sweet love…