What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World

What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World

It seems as a people, we have a fascination with photographing our food. From Henry's series of riders, to looking on instagram we cant help but document what we consume. Photographer Peter Menzel started this intriguing series of one weeks of groceries from around the world, taking traditional food photography to a much larger scale. In his book Hungry Planet, Peter explores both the cultural differences of diets around the world as well investigating how prosperity and poverty influence the diets of different nations.

hungry planet food around the world

Here is the book description of Menzel's amazing project:

The age-old practice of sitting down to a family meal is undergoing unprecedented change as rising world affluence and trade, along with the spread of global food conglomerates, transform eating habits worldwide. HUNGRY PLANET profiles 30 families from around the world--including Bosnia, Chad, Egypt, Greenland, Japan, the United States, and France--and offers detailed descriptions of weekly food purchases; photographs of the families at home, at market, and in their communities; and a portrait of each family surrounded by a week's worth of groceries. Featuring photo-essays on international street food, meat markets, fast food, and cookery, this captivating chronicle offers a riveting look at what the world really eats.

what people eat around the world

Great Britain

View the entire series Here in Menzel's Book Hungry Planet.

[Via Time]

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Previous comments
Jason Buyukozer's picture

There is no way that is all a weeks worth of food for one family. The mexican one had 12 bottles of 2L coke. That doesn't seem right.

Zeldas Champion's picture

Nor did the China one

SleepyJane's picture

In response to some of these threads: I don't think the purpose of this was to villainize any one country or culture. One could certainly attack any "country", comparing it to their own, but really, all of them have positives and negatives: you could observe, saying "this culture eats too much meat" or "look how much bread these people eat" or "Wow, my groceries look so much better than their do", or even "My country is better than yours because we eat better". Try instead, to take an objective point of view:

Instead, I think you can learn from these. You can look at the consumption of any other countries, and compare it, not attack it, to your own. Look at volume, to how much packaging is used, how much probably gets thrown out versus how much gets used, look at sugar content, GMOs, gluten, etc. etc. etc. Each family gets by on what they think is the best way for them, at that time.

Now, I challenge you: look at and critique your own "country" (i.e. household) and start to praise the others (e.g. "That's really amazing. How do they manage to have such a big family and have the time to prepare all those whole foods?" Then, in response, look up strategies to make cooking easier for your family; or say, "Oh, Iguess that's why that culture tends to be more fit than mine, maybe we should try buying more/less X", or "I never realized that a family could live on so little - maybe we should cut back, too" or "wow, that family has practically no waste. We should try to reduce our own waste"). You can totally pick apart every single "country" on what they eat. This project, I feel, is more about education than a competition.

Stop attacking all the others' way of life. No one needs that kind of negativity in their lives. Its really not going to help you and it's certainly not going to help any of them. It's not your place to judge, and it's really none of your concern if they choose to live unhealthily.If they wish to change their own ways, let them do so.

ldsgirl's picture

Well said, SleepyJane, your points are excellent. I know we all love the country we call home, and in our heart of hearts, each of us believes it is the best. That doesn't mean we cannot learn from other countries' ways of living, though. It doesn't lessen our love of our own culture, but we can broaden it to make it better and greater. The languages we speak--some more than others--have been broadened by borrowing words from other tongues, or creating words to go with discoveries and technologies, etc., and we are communicating now because of it. Why can we not do as you say, learning about the food habits of others and growing more healthy as best we can, with the incomes each of us has? The better result is what we learn from one another makes us more human to one another, and it becomes easier to befriend someone when one sees that person as more friend than stranger.

meonthissite's picture

Chad and Mali, it's amazing they survive on so little! I also love how when they got to france italy and japan there was like tons of bread in france/italy and lots of fish and rice in japan. Also Britain and Australia can stop saying nasty things about how fat America is considering the sheer number of sugary "snacks" they have all over the place and the stacks of sugar drinks behind each of them.

disqus_EafwBR0t2d's picture

You do realise that these are generalisations, for instance, I don't eat that many sweets at all.

RCSOATL's picture

this is a great visual to spark conversation


jessica344's picture

Everyone stop fighting! For the American picture, that does not depict my family. Pop and chips are a few times a month at most. Pizza is once a week at most. We eat basically a good diet. So, don't criticize other countries diets just by one picture. What each family eats really varies!!!

mimi's picture

I do not know were they picked the United States family from, BUT my weekly groceries do not look like that...what they show there is sick..

James Reilly's picture

Poor Chad. :(

Rachel Sorensen's picture

People keep talking about how little the family from Chad has to eat, but I think the Malians (is that what Mali natives are?) have it even worse. The Mali family has 15 mouths to feed on just a little more food than what the 6 member family from Chad has.

liptonius's picture

Nice overview, sad that USA only eat from packages and NO FRUIT AT ALL :
I reallt wanted a photo from Sweden, my country.

doctor_spaceman's picture

The US family has grapes and bananas. Maybe oranges also, but those may be tomatoes.

Kolobok42's picture

The US photo was only that family. If it were my family you'd see something quite different.

Matthew Jones's picture

As other have said, it's a representation of one family, not of the entire country. In my family, we have fruit and veggies (fresh as often as possible) in every single meal. That's not to say that every family in the US does this (probably not, frankly), but just realize that it's just one family.

Carolyn Lampier's picture

Looks like most people have "first world" problems.

cezzwho's picture

Looks like most of us like bananas! Chad is very sad, as are some not represented, I'm sure.

Chloe Rowles's picture

I was taken aback when I got to Chad.....that one was very sad. Although rice and beans, combined, is a complete protein. Mali wasn't much better. The rest of us are doing fine.

Rosalee Adams's picture

so many African nations are severely malnourished from lack of adequate
vitamins due to lack of fresh fruits and vegetables........particularly injurious to

the children who are developing.

Ognol Longo's picture

The second Chad lifts itself out of its current situation is when government swoops in to control your assets and manage any further growth... They enslave prosperity.. I see them as free and flying low under the radar.. They dont have bills, or a slave job working for King Tut

Alabaman's picture

As usual... go to the poorest part of Africa to portray them as poor. Westen media ways.

squidb8's picture

It's amazing the amount of actual food the other countries eat compared to amount of processed crap we eat here in the states.

Of course that processed crap is cheaper than actual food.

RobGoblin's picture

I laughed at Mali and Chad.

Benjamin Vidmar's picture

Why not any Scandinavian Countries? :)

Mav's picture

So, why did they pick ni55ers to represent the USA? All of them EBT-using scumbags ever eat is junk food.

Avron Pascal Fernandes's picture

So many people hating on the food in the US. I've lived in quite a few countries including the UAE, India, and the United States. I'd gladly have the problem of over-nutrition in the US over under-nutrition in India.

I find it so weird that so many people in the US complain about being in the land of plenty. The first world problem of "Oh no! I have too much food" is a problem most of the world would love to have.

frgough's picture

I will never understand the philosophy that self-loathing is somehow morally superior.

Olaf Johnson's picture

They eat flowers in Poland?

Ed O'Meara's picture

That German family love to drink. That British family are lying.

Zok Le Roc's picture

Absolutely fascinating! Of course, every family is different and this may not represent how you eat in your country country (some people here are getting VERY defensive!). The main thing I notice is the wealthier, or "more developed" countries all seem to lead their people to eat more processed foods (junk or otherwise). I suppose that's capitalism at work!

Matthew Jones's picture

I think that if you look closely, you'll see processed food in nearly every picture, even in those countries that might be less capitalistic. I won't disagree that processed foods are pervasive, but it is what it is. It's a choice to buy, and I think that this is a great way to see not only what people eat, but how they buy.

frgough's picture

Processed foods are convenient. Of course, since most of these countries are also cited as being healthier than the U.S. it is obvious that our health problems are not caused by processed foods.

IrishYank2's picture

The Canadian family's is clearly staged. There isn't a single beer on that table. Those are not true Canadians.

ldsgirl's picture

Maybe they don't drink. How would you know if you aren't acquainted with them? And as to the German family, not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera. IrishYank2, have you got a problem causing you to be overly judgmental regarding people you don't know? Now, if you are personal friends with the people you are judging, I will take that back. If not, you might want to refrain, unless the knowledge that someone may do the same to you doesn't bother you at all. Just a suggestion, mind you.

IrishYank2's picture

First off, the Canadian comment was a joke. I have numerous Canadian friends who would agree with my comment, as Canadians take a ton of pride in their beer. Second, I've lived for years in Germany and yes the lack of smiling is a fact. My German friends (and wife) would agree with this. It's just a German thing. They're known for how dryly they appear in photos. Third, you need to lighten up and quit being so sensitive. I'm not insulting either the Germans or Canadians in any way. You need to go abroad more often and realize how sensitive Americans are to jokes. This over-sensitivity makes it even all the more scary given the amount of fire arms in the US.

IrishYank2's picture

I also love how every family has happy smiles and dispositions....except the German family. It is in German genes to look like a nihilist at every photo opportunity. I experienced that first hand living there.

Jennifer Witt's picture

I think the American family was very accurate. All you have to do is look in the baskets of others at the grocery store and junk is what's in there. I grew up in a family of athletes and my mother was a Weight Watchers fanatic, so we ate a lot of chicken, veggies, and fruit. For me and I'm sure a lot of others it doesn't seem accurate, but it is unfortunately.

frgough's picture

Why is it unfortunate? The family in the picture was healthy, they could obviously afford the food, and they enjoyed the food they bought. I say more power to them.

BadKitty's picture

I doubt if selecting one photo of one family can realistically represent an entire country's eating habits.


Rolo Dumagan's picture

I think the American one is a bit exaggerated. Yes, we do eat a ton of process junk food. However, I don't think the AVG American Family could afford that much food every week. I say this picture could be accurate only showing half of the photo.

Alejandro Fabian's picture

In France they eat cats.....

Ian Merritt's picture

What's surprising to me is that a lot of other countries seem to eat just as shittily as Americans. Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Mexico... I see a lot of processed foods and sodas on those tables too...

Selene's picture

But contrast the processed food to fresh fruit/veg ratio. And you can't really assume that *every* family in the entire country would eat the same thing. I know that with my family half the table would be taken up with fresh fruit/veg and then the rest would be split between grains (wild rice, quinoa, etc.), meat and dairy (Canada).

ldsgirl's picture

Maybe subsidized American food is cheaper to import/donate/buy/ship, so everyone gets it who needs to get it from us. Why do you suppose people here who can't feel filled up any other way buy so much of it? And take a look at some of the stuff in school lunches. There are good ones, but, like individuals, people do what they can with what's available and affordable. Until you've lived on the same budget, in the same life, please don't make assumtions.

frgough's picture

Probably because processed foods are cheap and nutritious.

Rosalee Adams's picture

and the soda wrecks the teeth of the children even as the permanent teeth are

coming in.........also bone leeching........from all the phosphorous

noone's picture

now where the week worth of food picture for the welfare familys?

Van Jazmin's picture

Ecuador and India look the healthiest

Zia Durrani's picture

Note the water in Chad has WFP logo. Apparently provided as humanitarian aid. Australian's look the most meat-lovers. Not sure about that. I guess these picture are not just about food but also family composition. Worth noting is Kuwaiti family. The two girls on the left are most probably maids from overseas like India and Nepal. The picture is also about home decor, dresses, and even sitting arrangements can tell a about their culture and current situation e.g. Family from Chad has no male head of the family probably because of conflicts, some families don't mind children sitting while elders stand, in other all stand or all sit. Some are probably not too eager to touch family members in group photos. Others are putting arms together. And more....

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