A World View of the Family Meal

What the World Eats

What the World Eats

We just finished reading a fascinating book called What the World Eats.  This book is a photo essay with photographs taken by Peter Menzel. He also wrote a book back in the 90’s called Material World: A Global Family Portrait which is also worth your time, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

What the World Eats takes a look at 25 families from 21 countries and explores what they eat in a week’s time. The photos show the family together with their week’s supply of food displayed in the foreground. There is also a detailed list of the grocery items and the cost in both their country’s currency and US dollars. There are interesting facts about each country as well as a narrative about what life is like for the family. In addition, there are pages scattered throughout the book with statistics about life in the countries and how the individual countries compare to the rest. One page that we found quite interesting was the one that compared life expectancy.  There are also graphs that show interesting tidbits like how many McDonald’s restaurants are in each country and what the literacy rate is.

I read this book aloud with my two youngest boys covering one or two families each day. After we read we talked about the pictures and what life was like for each family. I was amazed at how quickly my boys recognized that we live in a very wealthy country compared to the rest of the world. We had many discussions about how spoiled we felt when we looked at what other families had or didn’t have.

There are several websites that go along with this book. And on this page, it shows several of the photos from an earlier book called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. The website doesn’t include the informative text about the families.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

The other book I mentioned, called Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is similar in format but this time the focus in on what each family owns. The photos show the family outside their home with all of their belongings displayed around them. Again, it was sobering to see how people in other parts of the world live.   On the web, you can find more information here where you can see some of the families in the program NOVA developed around this book.  You can also visit Peter Menzel’s website for more information about his work.


Health 101

Health NurseRecently we have taken a new direction as a family. We are on an adventure, learning together how to make better nutritional choices.  Since we are a homeschooling family I am always looking for things to work into our learning time and this seemed like a great topic.

But this is about more than Health Class—it’s about learning to take care of our bodies so that we stay healthy. We will be putting everything we learn into real life practice and we have some very good reasons to motivate us. Most families are aware of the national statistics on childhood obesity and diabetes. If you want to know more there is some excellent information at the CDC and also here.

My husband has Type 2 Diabetes and we have tried to watch our sugar and carbohydrate intake but recently we have gotten more serious. As we grow older we are beginning to deal with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and general aches and pains. I have struggled with weight issues most of my parenting years and giving birth to 7 children did nothing to help me keep my girlish figure. Now I am facing the need to take off a significant amount of weight or be forced to look at medication for high cholesterol as well as blood pressure.  With both of us wanting to be more healthy and to live life with enough energy to keep up with the grandkids we decided we had to do something.

So we have started getting serious about our eating habits and our exercise habits and I am happy to report that we are making progress. The best part is that we have made this a family adventure and our boys are starting to read nutrition labels and ask questions about whether something is good for them or not.  It’s not going to be an overnight success but we are working together to break old habits and form new healthier ones.  One resource that has been a tremendous help to me is SparkPeople.com. If good nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle is something you desire this website will be worth checking out.  There you will find an amazing amount of information and support for making the kind of changes that stick.

Healthy eating,