In the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Micheal Pollan asks, “What should we have for dinner?”
As a culture we seem to have arrived at a place where whatever native wisdom we may have once possessed about eating has somehow been replaced with confusion and anxiety. Somehow, this most elemental of activities – figuring out what to eat – has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists and to tell us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner menu?”
I explored that very same question in my own mind one afternoon, sipping on a Peppermint Mocha from the Barnes-n-Noble cafe, staring at all the diet books. I thought to myself, figuring out what to eat should not be this complicated.
Looking back millions of years, I thought, people did not have grocery stores. They had to hunt. They had to gather. They had to move. A lot. Because they had to FIND FOOD. Now we get in a car and go through the McDonald’s drive through and we have the audacity to ask “why are we all getting sick and fat?” The answer has always seemed obvious to me. To those in mainstream media- not so much.
So, with that said, I’d like to point you in the direction of a piece that Huffington Post did last March called
The HuffPost Taste wanted to know what other countries ate for breakfast while we shovel down a bowl of cereal or enjoying our eggs and bacon. HP was curious about the way people eat and which customs are taboo, and what people consider “healthy eating.”
Photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio satiated their curiosity by “breaking down what individuals from all over the world eat in one day.”
In “What I Eat: Around The World In 80 Diets,” Menzel and D’Aluisio document a stunning array of individuals’ daily sustenance. Below are just a sampling of the photos from the story. All photos are copyright Peter Menzel. His website is menzelphoto.com
According to Menzel’s website:
With camera and notebook in hand, Peter and Faith traveled to 30 countries and more than a dozen U.S. states to shop, cook, and eat with a strikingly diverse range of people, including an Egyptian camel broker, a Japanese sumo wrestler, a Sudanese refugee in Chad, a Tibetan yak herder, a Bangladeshi factory seamstress, an Arctic hunter, an Indian Hindu sadhu, a Namibian diamond polisher, and a wounded Iraq war veteran.
The centerpiece of each photoessay is a portrait of the subject with that day’s worth of food, a text about daily life, and an exhaustively researched food list detailing every item consumed, along with the total calorie count. Adding context to the profiles are essays from Wendell Berry, Mary Collins, Michael Pollan, Ellen Ruppel Shell, Bijal P. Trivedi, Richard Wrangham, and Lisa R. Young that approach food politics and our endless obsession with diet. This visual and textual feast highlights the similarities as well as the extreme differences in the ways that we approach and consume food around the world. Compelling, informative, and sometimes disturbing, What I Eat provides more than simple food for thought; it reveals the implications of the modern diet for our personal health and for our planet while challenging the tacit assumptions hidden in our daily fare.