What the World Eats

[ 3 ] October 23, 2008 |

 Store Images Books Wtwe MedReviewed by Katy Killilea

We can’t stop reading this book. The premise is simple: photographs of families, from all over the planet, posing with the food they eat over the course of a week. You may have seen some of these family portraits in an email that was making the rounds a few months ago. You can also see them at Time.com. I have never seen a geography/social studies book as fascinating.

As you’d imagine, there is a striking difference in the amount of food people have. Another factor that leaps out at readers is the difference in the amount of packaged foods. (Check out the wall of Coke sported by the Casaleses family of Mexico!) Fortunately, there is no maudlin Sally Struthersesque text accompanying the photos. The Natomo family in Mali–a family of fifteen–poses with a few large sacks of grain, one bottle of milk, and not much else. I was concerned about how this would make my kids feel. Not worried that they would feel sad about the Natomos so much, but that they’d be left feeling sorry for the people of Mali or even worse–smug about living in Supersize-Me-land. But the authors manage to tell it like it is without inspiring pity or fear.

Children will want to spend time studying the photos. International McDonald’s packaging offers a quick lesson in graphic design and brand recognition. Seahorses and cicadas-on-a-stick for sale in China allow you to see shrimp kebab with new eyes. Kids will want to reach right into the Egyptian cotton candy vendor’s supply. You might want to flip by the roasted whole guinea pig if you have a guinea pig as a pet–no disrespect to Ecuador intended. Kids who can read will love the narratives, how the families prepare their food, and what they do over the course of a day. That the Greenlandic father lists his favorite food as “polar bear” gives us a thrill every time we read it.

I am recommending this book to anyone who will listen. What’s on your must-read list these days?

The details;
What the World Eats
Photography by Peter Menzel
Written by Faith D’Aluisio
Tricycle Press

Category: books / stories, food + recipes

Anisa Raoof

about the author ()

Anisa Raoof is the publisher of Kidoinfo.com. She combines being a mom with her experience as an artist, designer, psych researcher and former co-director of the Providence Craft Show to create the go-to spot for families in Rhode Island and beyond. She loves using social media to connect parents with family-related businesses and services and promoting ways for parents to engage offline with their kids. Anisa believes in the power of working together and loves to find ways to collaborate with others. An online enthusiast, still likes to unplug often by reading books and magazines, drawing, learning to knit, making pop-up books with her two sons and listening to records with her husband.

Comments (3)

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  1. Maria says:

    great review Katy.
    Thanks for including the link to Time.com…just finished looking at the shots…brings amazing perspective to what happens in the U.S. doesn’t it….

  2. calendar katy says:

    There’s an adult version of this book too that was published first. It’s called “Hungry Planet.”

  3. Jamie says:

    Thanks so much for a great review, I need to check out this book. My husband and I loved the Time.com slideshow and found part 2. The comparisons were so interesting, especially the amount of soda in the pictures.

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