What the World Eats is a book worth reading, owning, and giving. I stumbled across it at the library, on a display shelf today. Within a few hours of bringing it home, I had devoured every page. The photos by Peter Menzel and words from Faith D'Aluisio captured two passions of mine: 1) the food that people eat in their daily lives, and 2) the many cultures of the world.
Exploring the pages of this book was more illuminating than circling the globe as a tourist, because I got to enter into the homes of families from 21 different countries. The contrast between a weeks worth of food in "developing" countries and more prosperous nations made me drop my jaw more than once. Yet as the author pointed out, the porridge that a 12-year-old in Africa eats for breakfast may well be more nutritious than the ultra-processed foods that American families serve from a box (Pop Tarts, anyone?).
I was awestruck at how much more food families in some countries eat than others. Yet all survive. And the possibilities of what to do with that realization are vast. I can eat less. Give more. Be thankful. Find a way to support organizations who are working toward more sustainable food supplies. Pray for the world. Learn to be content with less. Teach my children the difference between wants and needs. Show them what other families eat in places like Greenland, Bhutan and China. (Ever heard of a narwhal? A family in one of those countries eats it on a weekly basis.)
Furthermore, I can envision so many ways to use this book:
- To expand the understanding a family has of the world.
- To sample different foods and learn geography.
- To go along with sponsoring a child whose daily needs might not be met otherwise.
- To give as a gift to another family.
Taking in the photos and insights from around the world would benefit anyone and everyone. Glimpsing the realities of what families eat in other parts of the world and how they live might have a greater impact than even a short-term trip abroad. And unlike an international plane ticket, this resource can be accessed for free, with just a simple library card.
Despite the fact that I have lived abroad for several years, What the World Eats helped summon me out of my complacency--with what we buy and eat, and how little thought and prayer extends beyond our borders. Read it and see where opened eyes and an open heart might take you.
Dec. 2010 Update: This post is linked to WFMW.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but I am recommending it of my own accord. The opinions stated are all mine. I simply picked up this book up at the library and really enjoyed it.