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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


Mexico
00175372
Great Britain
00175382
USA
00175392
Australia
00175402
Germany
00175412
Italy
00175422
Canada
00175432
France
00175442
Japan
00175452
China
00175462
Poland
00175472
Kuwait
00175482
Mongolia
00175492
Turkey
00175502

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

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917 Comments

Previous comments
Xydal's picture

The big jugs in the background are normally for water, the transparent one is probably oil. My guess is that they are in a refugee or displaced camp or if it's a recent picture, some food related to the 2011 food crisis in the Sahel area.

hayley's picture

Lol the Germans with their beer >.<

kaboomNYC's picture

Good lord! They're still eating cats in France?!

Nicholas David Hill's picture

The German family only has 20 bottles of beer, and 4 bottles of wine. Yeah right!! lol

ChildDevTeacher's picture

Now...what would be VERY telling and mindblowing would be what $50 worth of groceries would look like per country! (of course adjusted for local currency)

Miles Cooper's picture

Coke and Pepsi have taken over the world!

Darrell V. Watson Jr.'s picture

Provocative set of photos, regardless of the 'apples and oranges' problem. We know missionaries who have lived in third world countries for many years who are not willing to retire in the USA or Canada because they have been buying fresh food daily and have serious digestive issues trying to eat our processed foods. And yes, these things are usually available in urban areas, but their family lives in a smaller town. This completely blew away our concept of the poor missionary suffering through limited food options. The majority of the world subsists on rice, vegetables and fruits where available, with some fish, egg, or meat protein - and obesity is basically non-existent in most of these nations.

frgough's picture

Obesity is non-existent, because they have to work their tails off just to survive. We have obesity here because of our sedentary lifestyle, not because of our eating habits. Lay off the food guilt.

whitey9's picture

Its both issues that cause the obesity. American food processing standards are banned in most of the world because of the rubbish thats added. People in Greece, Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia etc dont work any harder than anywhere else in the west, but their food is unprocessed, is healthy and, and doesnt need high-fructose corn syrup in everything to make it taste good. Fact is, you cant out excercise a bad diet..

Michelle Morgan's picture

look at the differences in obesity vs processed food/sugar!!!

frgough's picture

The American family was thin and trim. So obviously there is no correlation.

aravindbachu's picture

Whatever it is, got to admit that these photo's do show the average consumption patterns quite accurately.

vasssay's picture

Good pics. Try taking pics of weekly groceries of every state in India. Bet you will see much more variety than you see in the above countries. Having a generic grocery for India doesn't do justice.

Tenderoni's picture

Poland included their cat's food!

BSArticle's picture

This is bullshit. NO family I know in America eats all that garbage in a week, especially if they have children to feed. It shows Burger King, McDonalds and Taco Bell, along with take out or delivery Pizza. Thats 4 of the 7 days in a week of ordering out... fast food isnt cheap any more, even more so when you have 4+ people to buy for. Families know it is more efficient to cook your own food. Granted that might be garbage too, but the portrayal of your average American family eating fast food 4 days a week is pure fabricated bullshit to get views.

whitey9's picture

So if no family that YOU know eats that, it cant be true? Get over yourself..

Alaska Mom's picture

In Mali, the week's worth of food feeds 15 people, while the Americans are only feeding a family of four.

frgough's picture

Yeah, and in Mali, starvation is a real threat.

Alaska Mom's picture

Which families look the happiest? Ecuador and Mali. Coincidence? I think not.

whitey9's picture

They might be happy to be having their photographs taken.. the Japanese arent smiling because of cultural conditioning. You cant read too much into a single picture.

Rosalee Adams's picture

Mali is not healthy if it has inadequately fresh produce and fruit.........
the vitamins those foods provide are so important

Alaska Mom's picture

I said happy, not healthy. My point is that happiness is not found in the packaging or the fat content of our food, it is found in families coming together to eat. However meager it may be. And that we can be happier with less.

Shamooo's picture

dont romanticize poverty

barefootboy1986's picture

My God, the amount of processed "food" in the USA photo .... and the amount of sugar in the Mexico photo ....

Rosalee Adams's picture

staggering and when it is not fast food it is packaged processed from grocery store

Zion Moulder's picture

Yeah... I wish we had that much food.
-American

JGo555's picture

Look at the quality of the food depending the developing of the country. The poorer countries have foods in less packaging and less processing than the foods in 1st world countries. Not only that, but look at the amount of soda, beer and juice eaten in said countries.

Connor Mcleod's picture

What!? Surely nobody really eats like that in the USA...

Rich Ph's picture

this was a very good comparison...Processed foods are a delight to the rich country, while fresh foods are common for a lower status country...AND YET, THOSE WHO HAD A FEW TENDS TO BE HAPPY AND SMILING ....

USAAAA's picture

This is crazy..There is something we should all understand in USA ...HEALTHY FOOD IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE JUNK......ANOTHER OBVIOUS FACT IS THAT WELL PEOPLE CANT AFFORD TO BUY HEALTHY BECAUSE WELL NOTHING REALLY GROWS IN THIS COUNTRY ANYMORE TO BE CHEAPER..... Its SO simple but yet so hard to do wed rather support factories in China rather than a local farmer... Well look at where that has gotten us....OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE AND STArt CONSUMING PRODUCTS THAT ARE ONLY made in USA....We have to create a mentality where wed rather not EAT,NOT wear clothes etc..., than have it be from somewhere else.... We are hurting our own economy our own community....

Michael Kattenberg's picture

The poorer the country, the healthier the food...

Rosalee Adams's picture

not always because sometimes they are lacking in vital foods which provide
vitamins which are crucial particularly to children...........
e.g. lack of fresh fruits and veggies.

BucciL76's picture

German the best one...more beers than water...

George G Collins Jr.'s picture

And then there are us farmers laughing at all o'y'all.

Tessa Zeng's picture

Vivid and thought-provoking. Food is important, obviously, but what this series reminds me of is that food is actually interconnected with every major human issue on the planet. Not only physical health, but mental awareness, how we treat animals and nature, how we relate to our bodies (2/3 of our makeup is water- go back and look at how each photo's family takes in water if you want a fascinating perspective on that), economic inequality, social development, geographic availability (or in the case of the developed countries, how we bypass that)... I could go on. But I'll just stop here and say thank you, Peter Menzel!

Sara's picture

I wonder what the photographer'a criteria was when he chose families to photograph. If he was trying to represent an average family's
groceries then I would like to know how he decided what was average. My family lives
in the USA and our groceries look nothing like the USA representative family's groceries.
I don't really know anyone, even in less educated communities where I work and volunteer who eats that bad.

Katherine Islean Maurer's picture

That's really interesting. :)

Gauri Sardar's picture

people from Mali have lesser food than most of othrt countries..bt their smiles are wider than any of them

Rosalee Adams's picture

Africa suffers in many areas from lack of adequate vitamins and looking at Mali

and Chad it is immediately apparent.........e.g. just adding sweet potatoes to the

diet can bring about eye disease improvement.Vitamin A improves eye problems significantly and that is just one food.

There are so many items of veggies and fruit that solve so many health problems.

Harley Johnson's picture

Just pitching in with personal experience, but I think these photos might be a little little out of date. Australia put plain packaging tobacco laws in place quite a while ago... those Longbeach and Winfield packages have been illegal for over a year, from memory.

Gunnard Larson's picture

you are right. I think these photos were take four or five years ago. Maybe even longer.

Raphael Bujold's picture

Interresting. I would be curious to see the average quantity of trash packaging by country...

mcjustesen's picture

Most photos showed gluttony except for the African groups that had hardly any food. How sad it is to show our greed when others have so little.
MCJ

Rosalee Adams's picture

and far too much processed............a waste of $$$$ and never mind nutrition

Downtown Schools for Boston's picture

Awesome in so many ways. This would make a great calendar or something, as a more frequent reminder of how varied the world is, and of how we are what we eat.

Guest's picture

Interesting to read all your comments. In Denmark (where I'm from) the most of us think we eat healthy - it's well seen that you care about your food and your health. Or maybe that's that just what people around me do. Actually I'm shocked as well when I tend to meet people outside my "circle" or comfort zone. And this is where I think I get's interesting. Staying inside - you get what you expect, at least most of the time. Going else where meeting new people - you see the world differently. Not always in a good way, but it gives you something to reflect upon.
These pictures are exhibited in the Danish Design Centre at the moment, and I'm embarrassed about the amount of food we "need" - compared to contries where twice as many people share less than half the amount of food. And we buy a lot of groceries that we don't need - that are more expensive and still some of these countries actually cook better food than the Danish kitchen - that's why we copy them on the dishes. So thinking about what I just read on the 50 first post's we still have a looong way ahead of us - and we need to collaborate on the journey :)

Heidi Lyng's picture

Interesting to read all your comments. In Denmark (where I'm from) the most of us think we eat healthy - it's popular that you care about your food and your health. Or maybe that's that just what people around me do. Actually I'm shocked as well when I tend to meet people outside my "circle" or comfort zone. And here is where I think it gets interesting. Staying inside the circle - you get what you expect, at least most of the time. Going elsewhere meeting new people - you see the world differently. Not always in a good way, but it gives you something to reflect on.
These pictures are exhibited in the Danish Design Centre at the moment, and I'm embarrassed about the amount of food we "need" and trash - compared to contries where twice as many people share less than half the amount of food. And we buy a lot of groceries that we don't need and are more expensive - and yet some of these countries cook much better than the Danish kitchen - that's why we copy them on the dishes. So thinking about what I just read on the 50 first post's we are still having a looong way ahead of us - and I guess we need to collaborate on that journey

Rosalee Adams's picture

sadly US looks worst for processed and fast food...............
Ironically Turkey is one of best for least processed. When I there in the Peace Corps
cooked completely from scratch on one burner stove.......
Also Chat and Mali are sadly lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, an important part of any

diet.

Megan O's picture

So I'm sure no one is going to believe me when I say this but I actually took a class with the kid with the afro from the America photo at East Carolina. He was an extremely nice guy and he talked about this photo series in class. It's not staged at all, this is actually food that his family had bought for a week.

Amber Joy's picture

I love seeing all these beautiful faces from around the world!!! The homes and decor they have, what beautiful diversity=) It reminds me of the babies Documentary... I wish they followed more babies;) I would have loved to be on the crew and meet all the people and have dinner with them all=)

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