‘What I Eat: Around The World In 80 Diets’

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

‘What I Eat: Around The World In 80 Diets’ Shows Stunning Portraits Of Daily Meals

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.

 

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“Bruce Hopkins, a Bondi Beach lifeguard, with his typical day’s worth of food in Sydney, New South Whales, Australia. The caloric value of his day’s worth of food on a typical day in the month of February was 3,700 kcals. He is 35 years of age; 6 feet tall, and 180 pounds. Hopkins eats moderately, rarely — if ever — eats fast food, and drinks alcohol only when he and his wife go to dinner with friends.”

 

"Viahondjera Musutua, a Himba tribeswoman, sits outside the house at her father's village with her youngest son and her typical day's worth of food."
“Viahondjera Musutua, a Himba tribeswoman, sits outside the house at her father’s village with her youngest son and her typical day’s worth of food.”

 

Maria Ermelinda Ayme Sichigalo, a farmer and mother of eight with her typical day’s worth of food in her adobe kitchen house in Tingo village, central Andes, Ecuador. (From the book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets.) The caloric value of her typical day's worth of food in the month of September was 3800 kcals. She is 37 years of age; 5 feet, 3 inches tall; and 119 pounds. With no tables or chairs, Ermelinda cooks all the family’s meals while kneeling over the hearth on the earthen floor, tending an open fire of sticks and straw. Guinea pigs that skitter about looking for scraps or spilled grain will eventually end up on the fire themselves when the family eats them for a holiday treat. Because there is no chimney, the beams and thatch roof are blackened by smoke. Unvented smoke from cooking fires accounts for a high level of respiratory disease and, in one study in rural Ecuador, was accountable for half of infant mortality.   CREDIT: http://www.menzelphoto.com/
Maria Ermelinda Ayme Sichigalo, a farmer and mother of eight with her typical day’s worth of food in her adobe kitchen house in Tingo village, central Andes, Ecuador. (From the book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets.) The caloric value of her typical day’s worth of food in the month of September was 3800 kcals. She is 37 years of age; 5 feet, 3 inches tall; and 119 pounds. With no tables or chairs, Ermelinda cooks all the family’s meals while kneeling over the hearth on the earthen floor, tending an open fire of sticks and straw. Guinea pigs that skitter about looking for scraps or spilled grain will eventually end up on the fire themselves when the family eats them for a holiday treat. Because there is no chimney, the beams and thatch roof are blackened by smoke. Unvented smoke from cooking fires accounts for a high level of respiratory disease and, in one study in rural Ecuador, was accountable for half of infant mortality. CREDIT: http://www.menzelphoto.com/

In conclusion I would like to ask your opinion on this piece. What do you think about the amount of calories and types of foods these people are eating? Are you surprised that some people have such high caloric intake, yet stay trim? Post your thoughts in the comment section below!

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