Whenever I shop for groceries, I’m reminded of our collective obsession with processed and packaged foods.
As someone who makes an reasonable effort to make decisions that are good for both my health and that of the planet, my shopping cart is largely filled with whole foods.
I’m certainly no saint — tubs of yoghurt, cans of legumes, bottles of beer and boxes of frozen pizza all involve unnecessary energy inputs and waste.
But each time I pull up to the checkout and dump dozens of fruits and veggies onto the conveyor belt, I find my selections are in stark contrast to most consumers, as piles of processed products roll past the grocery clerks in adjacent aisles, and carts depart with more photos of vegetables than the actual plants themselves.
In Hungry Planet, Menzel and D’Aluisio offer a photographic study of families across the world. From Mexico to Mongolia, portraits are taken with families surrounded by a week’s worth of the food they consume.
The accompanying text describes their grocery list in detail, including their weekly food budget. Altogether, the book provides a compelling comparative sample of food consumption habits across cultures.
Menzel’s photos also draw attention to the global cultural idiosyncrasies of eating. While in North America consuming unprocessed, healthy food is often thought of, rightly or wrongly, as a privilege of the affluent, it is processed foods that are often out of reach for less flush families in other parts of the world.
Hungry Planet profiles a total of 30 families in 24 countries, only a few of which are depicted below. You can see the others on Menzel’s website, or order the book from your local bookseller or Amazon’s Canadian or US website.
Top image: The Cui family of Weitaiwu village, Beijing Province, China. Hat tip: Demilked.