The recent news about riots over food shortages around the globe reminded me of a fascinating photoessay published in The Walrus magazine a few years ago. The work, by photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio, chronicles the eating habits of families around the globe. Over five years, the photographer-journalist pair visited families in 24 countries and photographed them with a week’s supply of food. The results speak volumes.
The photos emphasize how different one family’s dietary habits are from another, how dramatically the cost of food varies the world over, and the importance of food security. For example, The Ukita family, in Japan, eats at least a dozen types of fish and shellfish and three varieties of seaweed each week. In Kuwait, most of the Al-Haggans’ food is imported. The Patkar family’s table, in India, is laden with fresh produce and is meat-free. Whereas packaged food predominates in the Revis family in the U.S., and two large, greasy pizzas dominate the photograph. Even more interesting, a week’s worth of food for a family of four in Germany is $568. In Canada, the cost is $158. How does your table compare? I know I’ll be looking at my groceries from a whole new perspective… I might even conduct a similar experiment and photograph my purchases.
It would be interesting to see Menzes and D’Aluisio revisit the families in another five years. How would the rising cost of food and changes in global food production and distribution have impacted these families? Better yet, how will my own diet and shopping choices have changed?