What the World Eats

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I sent an email out to some people last night telling them about my project. In response, a friend sent back a message with photos from the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Ten Speed Press, 2005).

They are amazing.

You can see a photo essay of a few of them at the Time magazine website:
here’s Part I and here’s Part II.

Check out the German family who spends $500 a week.

What Germany Eats

What Germany Eats

Aye yi yi!

5 Responses to “What the World Eats”

  1. marilyn Says:

    i read the nyt article a while ago. my reaction was much like yours, the folks who did it seemed somewhat short-sighted in what they learned. i think the idea of a very limited food budget and/or a very limited diet should be a lot more provocative to those few of us in the world who have to choose what we might want to eat for a meal rather than wonder if there is anything for us and our loved ones to eat. and it doesn’t take much for a thoughtful person to understand pretty quickly that processing food (packaging, preserving, combining ingredients, cooking, refrigerating, drying, etc.) adds a whole lot to the cost and calories but not much to the nutrition. i have a couple of excuses for not trying the $30 for 30 days plan, but it seems to me i could “eat for 2” (as in eat for $2 a day) a couple of days a week and learn a few things about myself and my habits. i’d certainly have to cut out sweets. i could have a banana or an apple most days, and easily have salt, garlic and onions for seasoning grains and legumes. eggs and powdered milk would make things more varied.

    i have lived on a very limited budget, but i also always had family who would send a few bucks so my kids and i wouldn’t do without food. but anyone who’s done this knows you don’t spend $1 (or whatever) every day. when you get the money, you buy as frugally as you can. before the next food money comes in, you go a few days looking over odds and ends in the pantry pondering how to make satisfying meals.

    as always, becky, you are interesting.

    you should be able to find rose hips properly dried and still tasty enough on rose bushes. pluck them off and you can steep a rosy and vitamin-c rich tea for yourself.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    I actually don’t necessarily recommend the $1 a day thing the way I’m doing it except as a party trick. It isn’t practical, and if you’re really so poor that you only have a dollar to buy food with, you probably don’t have a kitchen to cook in (if you’re in the U.S., at least). In other parts of the world where people routinely spend only a dollar a day on food, the costs are completely different so doing the exercise in this country isn’t hugely meaningful.

    Also I feel like trying to experience poverty by severely limiting your options is useful to a certain extent, but you are not in fact experiencing poverty. (It’s like the old joke: Q: How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg? A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.) You could stop at any time and go buy a hamburger, which makes the experience totally different from true poverty, no matter how “real” you try to make it.

    My point really is not to talk about poverty, but to talk about what you can do with what you have. I think that most people — myself included — can do more with less if they put their mind to it. And the less you have, the more creative you have to be. So I’m looking at this experience as a way to force myself into stretching out.

    [And keep your eyes out for a post tying it all to The Scrap Exchange.]

    Also I’m trying to lose a few pounds before April; figured this was as good a way as any to do it. :)

  3. Sharon Says:

    Hi, I am really enjoying reading about your project and your healthier whole foods way of doing it.

    There is another collection of Hungry Planet info at

    For people who have seen the Hungry Planet book or looked at a number of the family food pictures on the internet, which family’s foods would you most want to eat for a week?


  4. Jacqui Says:

    What I’m really struck by, especially as I looked at the pictures from Time (some of those pics I’d not seen before, Go Nunavut!)is that spending less on food seems to also contribute to less garbage going into land fills. I’ve been really aware of packaging for awhile now and I find myself really struggling at the grocery store. I often go home without my favorite foods (yogurt, I miss it!) because I can’t bear to think were the packaging ends up.

    Did you find your garbage cans took longer to fill up?

  5. lessisenough Says:

    Thanks for the interesting question about trash.

    The way I ate near the end of the project is very similar to how I eat normally, so there wasn’t too much of a difference in the amount of trash between what I usually end up with and and what happened on the project. However I usually generate very little trash, mostly because I usually buy basic ingredients and whole foods rather than packaged foods.

    I did end up with way more plastic bags than I usually do, mostly because I was already somewhat self-conscious at the Latino market, because I was going so frequently and buying such small quantities and was usually the only English-speaking person in the store. I decided if I also refused to take a bag, that might push me over the edge and they might actually start paying attention to me and asking who the crazy white lady was. So I just took the bag and tried to stay under the radar.

    And I know what you mean about the yogurt containers. There is a collection program for yogurt containers at my Whole Foods (run by Stonyfield Farms), so that’s one option, and also you can make your own plain yogurt and put it in glass mason jars and that gets around the problem altogether, you just have the milk carton to deal with. I was doing it for a while, and I buy milk in returnable glass bottles, so that really did solve the packaging problem.

    It’s not too difficult but enough of a process that I stopped doing it — I was using a heating pad as the external heat source and then gave away my heating pad and then got another one but it had an automatic shut-off feature which made it impossible to leave on for 6-8hours, which is what you need for making yogurt.

    I think you can probably find recipes for that online, or if people seem interested in how to make it, I’ll post the info. There was an extensive article in The Tightwad Gazette, where Amy Dacyzyn and her staff created a giant chart with every permutation of yogurt making technique they’d seen and tried every one of them out to see what made a difference. The winning technique involved using an external heat source, and overall it was pretty straightforward.

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