Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio have written many books, but I think Hungry Planet:What the World Eats is one of my favorites. I love the concept of taking a picture with a weeks worth of food for a household. One of the families in Chad lived on so little food I almost cried. It was also eye opening how much soda people drink. Most households had a least one bottle with some consuming as many as 12 or more liters. Those pictures alone are worth a look but there’s a lot more to the book. Other great pictures! I like the two page spread of kitchens around the world, because it really goes to show how spoiled I am with my range, running water and kitchen counters, but each chapter also has cool shots of every day living. They show families shopping and eating and preparing local dishes. Along with the pictures there are fascinating descriptions of what is going on in each of the lives of the families. Some of the stories are tragic but all are wonderful glimpses into different worlds. Greenland has so few people compared to everywhere else. It seemed almost magical (and cold).
The first time I read it was before I discovered my oil sensitivity so when I read it this time I paid more attention to the oils people ate. I wasn’t surprised that most families in developed countries ate vegetable oil of some kind. What did surprise me was that there was not one family who didn’t eat at least a quart of oil each week. Even families who farmed and only bought one or two luxury items like sugar, baking soda or tea were eating some of the most highly refined fats known to man!
For some reason I had thought that vegetable oils were confined to the first world, or even just the US. But this book made it clear to me that in every country around the world people are eating these fats. Which is striking, because in more than one place I have read and heard that its not just Americans that are having health issues like obesity, cancer and diabetes. It’s not just older children, or adults, often little babies are obese. Everyone has been looking for a culprit and it seems to me that oils are so ubiquitous around the world they may be a good place to start looking.
The authors do an amazing job with this book and even though it was published almost ten years ago now it still feels relevant. I highly recommend reading it.