Title: What the World Eats
Author: Faith D'Aluisio
Photographs by: Peter Menzel
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Concepts: natural resources, poverty, scarcity, markets, interdependence, globalization, time use
Review: What the World Eats may have a simple premise, but its images and lessons are as sophisticated as they are influential. As its premise, the book offers a glimpse of the food expenditures and eating habits of twenty-five households in twenty-one countries of different degrees of economic development around the world. Menzel and D’Aluisio photographed and observed each household as it acquired one week’s worth of food and prepared meals. The book clearly communicates the extent to which families in lower-income countries rely mostly on grains and produce, while higher incomes lead to the addition of meats, dairy, sugar, fats, and processed foods and beverages to the diet. Accompanying these dietary changes along the income scale are large increases in the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Among the numerous thought-provoking examples, one image shows the heads of freshly slaughtered pigs for sale at a Mexican food market, with the caption describing customers who inspect “the alarmingly fresh meat.” Another photograph and text description depict a man in Ecuador tying a one-hundred pound bag of potatoes onto his wife’s back for her to carry like a mule, while he presumably guides her. Photographs and the accompanying discussion of a refugee camp in Chad that helps to house and feed the tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees provide a vivid account of the challenges in sustaining the nutritional status of these men, women, and children.
The stunning photographs, detailed text descriptions, informative charts, and strategic visual displays all contribute to important lessons that are thoroughly integrated into a format that will engross adults and children alike. The reader is left better informed not only about the enormous variation among the world’s people in what they eat, but also in their use of time and in their overall standard of living. This knowledge can make us better equipped to improve our food choices, reduce food waste, and think about productive ways to fight hunger globally.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children