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

If you mean the Australian one, I see five bottles of soda for the week for the whole family, so not so bad ... the rest of the bottles are local fruit juices and cordials. In our home we don't buy any soda at all. We will put orange or lime cordial in water, or drink fruit juice. Good to see we are up on the fresh fruit and veg, meat and cereals. Chad, yes, that's a hard one to look at. Might try and direct my KIVA dollars there next time. Interesting article.

Erica Jarrell's picture

Interesting-- I thought they were sodas, too. I never knew about the cordials.

5 big bottles of soda for the family for the week IS bad. At least with the juices and cordials there is >some< healthy benefit, (although the load of sugar natural or not, is not so great either, poor pancreas), there is NONE with soda. The load of meat to me is just astounding. We don't eat that much in a month or more.

Tanya's picture

Five bottles of pop is not so bad...? Fruit juices are right up there with pop as well. Putting fruit in water like you said is a great idea. Cereals aren't good for you either, unless it's sugar free and muslix-like. You're on the right track, though.

Adam Phillips's picture

The only thing i didn't see that is a staple in Australia was Vegimite. They use it like we do peanut butter or nutella.

my friend is from the land down under and they love their vegemite and wheetbix lol

Cindy G.'s picture

Hi Jens. We're in the U.S. I never buy soda for my kids. They drink water or milk for dinner. However, millions of people in this country do have horrendous diets full of processed foods, soda, junk food, empty calories, etc., and therefore you see many, many obese people here. I don't know why more people don't embrace better eating habits (although, for some of the poor people, it's hard to get access to fresh foods). Sad.

kimberly caballero's picture

VERY UNTRUE!!! poor people in the u.s.a. eat better(or have the option) to eat (most likely) just as well or better than you! please read my previous co
mment. thanks!

julyjulyjulyjuly's picture

Ok, so even if we go with your argument about the food being available being true, there are other factors. One I was unaware of until working on a project to bring farmers markets into a less wealthy neighborhood was 'food deserts.' It's a little bit of a tough concept, because if you look around and see healthy or obese people, you think, these people aren't starving. But rather then starving from lack of food, it's more from lack of nutrition. In a lot of lower income neighborhoods, there are no grocery stores--literally, none. Just convenience stores. If you don't have a car or even good public transportation, it can be difficult to regularly get even only several miles to the grocery store to feed your family. So while someone might have the food stamps to buy better food then I do, it could be more difficult for them to get to it. I know it's not the case everywhere, but seeing how bad it was around some of Boston (where I was doing the project) was really eye-opening.

Hannah Coo's picture

I live in the USA, and my kids (2,5,7) do not have soda! We eat out 2 times or less a month, and try and eat lots of veggies and fruit. We try as best as we can to eat a balanced diet and spend an hour to 2 to cook dinner each night, trying to make everything from scratch to the best we can. Each family is different. I just wanted to let you know how our house runs. :) We eat lots of rice, whole wheat, and good things like that. And to top this off my whole family is quite skinny except for me! I am over weight and it stinks! Its very hard for me. Especially because people tend to look down on you or just assume your diet is horrible. To the point where people treat you like you are not worth anything just because of your weight. So from my point of view, (Not your attitude! You had a great question!) but some of these attitudes on these comments are very judging and don't know what they are talking about. Its quiet hurtful.

Really cool photo project idea

The amount of sugar in the photo for the US is alarming. Also, the small amount of fruits and veggies...

You need to look at the table and beyond. There is plenty of Kale and other veggies. You are only focusing on the pizza. Nor is this indicative of all of the United States.

Alex Perez's picture

Neither of the pics are indicative of the whole population in each country. The pics focus on the "average" consumer. Sadly, USA's pic is the reality in the majority of the American homes.

How do you propose it is the "majority" of American homes? Where is your data for that?

Honestly, they have diet coke, fruit juices, 7up, pizza, spaghetti sauce, grapes, meat, milk, tomatoes, motts apple sauce, burger king for a day, some sort of wrap, chips, cereal and a few other things I can't make out.

If veggies, fruits and other fresh ingredients were not part of the American diet, then grocery stores who are for profit, would not sell them.

angie497's picture

Yes, Americans are *far* more likely to buy fruits, veggies, and other fresh ingredients and cook meals from scratch than they are to buy boxed, canned or frozen convenience foods and junk full of empty calories. That's why it's so hard to find the latter in the average American grocery store. {/snark}

Luke's picture

I've never had an issue finding produce in a grocery store...particularly for locally grown produce. Or for that matter Walmart, Meijer, or Target.

julia sears's picture

The issues with finding produce have to do with the inner city populations. They tend to live in 'food deserts' where it is nearly impossible to find fresh produce. The corner groceries in the inner cities are tiny, understocked, and lack in produce. People do not have access to or can't afford to go to what we think of as normal grocery stores. Similar things are found in some very poor rural areas. Your 'average' American (myself included) in the photo does not live below the poverty line and has a fairly high socioeconomic status compared to the rest of the world. Junk is far cheaper than healthy food- sad, but true.

Luke's picture

I don't disagree that processed food is cheaper than good produce, but I live in the center of the 11th largest city in the union...the grocery stores downtown have plenty of produce assuming you can afford it.

kimberly caballero's picture

Ummm...i have lived in peru with my 3 small children for the past 4 years.we just came back to the states. for $20.00 i could purchase just aboit everything listed on the pic from mexico. i could vet fresh squeezed juice on every street corner for a mere 20 cents a glass. new york is inner city and the markets are fresh and beyond cheap/amazing! same with l.a., houston, dallas, seattle, etc....where i live, whi h is in pennsylvania, the farmers market is 3 months out of the year, and sells a small.basket of roughly 5 small peaches for about $5.00...that is very overpriced and peaches arent even locally grown in pennsylvania....

SuzyQ's picture

Nothing like having a well known photographer pick a junk food family to represent an entire country. Let's get real. Most of the people I know do not eat that much processed food! They eat a lot of fruit and veggies.

Luke's picture

I'd say it's rather representative of a family of 4 with two teens and two working parents. It's similar to how I ate growing up in the 90's.

Tanya's picture

With two working parents it should be even easier for fresh food to be served.

Luke's picture

You're joking, right? Mom and Dad both working. Kids have music rehearsal, sports practice, recitals, and games...when's there time to stay home and make fresh food?

kimberly caballero's picture

Its called mom and dad have to stay up late one.night a week and prepare fresh meals to freeze to be used at a later date...didnt ur parents ever hear of a crockpot? i.am a working, single mom of 3...tball,softball,cheerleading, gymnastics, swimming lessons....there is NO WAY i can nor will i understand the excuse you mentioned as ...well...an excuse...ur parents should have managed their time better. we lived in another country(peru) for 4 years..came back to the states recently and my children are used to eating fresh and healthy...so i make.sure i.continue feeding them the way they deserve to be fed. hopefully u break the cycle when u have hildren. u are gaining so much knowledge on this site you cant ise ur parents *excuse* regarding ur own family!

Luke's picture

...you lived in Peru for 4 years...lol. You make that sound like a badge of excellence wherein I consider it a badge of sheer stupidity.

kimberly caballero's picture

considering your post...you would:) grow up!

Luke's picture

Hello Pot my name is Kettle. Plus...who wants to grow up? That'd make the country club, drag bar, and the weekly house parties a lot less fun.

kimberly caballero's picture

omg...wow...not even gonna comment. u cant argue with stupid. this must be the product of frozen food being shoved down ur throat ur entire life.

Luke's picture

Frozen food? Who said anything about frozen? It's best from a can. Actually, for the last 9 years it's been mostly liquid sunshine (whiskey for the ill-educated). And I'm most likely more intelligent than you - assuming of course that you're not a master distiller.

kimberly caballero's picture

yep! you are right. theres no competing with an overworked shriner! hopefully you continue working out...moooooo!

MJ Stark's picture

Key phrase...'most of the people you know'

Tanya's picture

Unfortunately, as much as people like to talk the talk, I find people aren't educated enough (which is easy to be if they just tried a bit) and they think they eat well when they really don't. I work with people who eat packaged food every day and because it says that there are no calories, or there is some iron in it or it's fortified, etc.. they think it's good for them. They also convince themselves they need to add salt in order to enjoy food. (I agree though that it certainly isn't everybody! But I guess there was only one photo per country..)

yes lets get real its a reality check and your in denial. Most American families probably don't have that much food because almost everyone is going broke with the economy, but I can bet no one hardly buys veggies( fresh) veggies and fresh fruits anymore because its so easy just to open a can and there ya go. I make a habit of seeing a rainbow in the basket before I leave the produce area but im human and how much of that goes to waste because id rather have a "quick" meal or I just forgot its there. America does not get all the fruits and veggies we need!

kimberly caballero's picture

"open a can and there ya go"....really?? thats gross. your poor. bildren due to your laziness. thabks for contributing to the economy being.broke! you and yours will most likely suffer from high blood.pressure from the high salt content located in that can (how many cans a week, year does ur family consume?) and a multitude of other things ur family will suffer from due to tgis style of eating.....and if u cant pay, then the govt will pay for u!! thus resulting in an economic crisis...how many families think like you without thinking that the consequences are much deeper than being lazy....yep, medicaid got u amd ur kids...dont worry! keep canning.it up!

Alex Perez's picture

See my post above. Statistics are your friend.

MJ Stark's picture

Bianca, stand in line and look at the carts. Not at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, a very small part of the population,, but at Winn-Dixie or Piggly Wiggly or Albertson's. It's scary. If the stuff didn't sell, it wouldn't be out there. Really.

deniz21's picture

Take a look at America's obesity statistics. That'll tell you what goes into "majority" of American homes.

There is no way in hell that that photo is indicative of the "average" American family (nevermind you haven't qualified what the average family even looks like).

Alex Perez's picture

You guys probably live in Los Angeles, where "healthy eating" is the cool thing. A few words for you: The South & The Midwest. As recently as last year, Gallup found that an average of 62.8% of all American adults were overweight or obese in the first half of 2012 -- 36% were overweight and 26% were obese, about on par with 2011. The king of the fat is West Virginia with 69.3% of obese residents. The lowest? Colorado with 51%. Most of the South has alarming diabetes and weight-related problems. And you don't get to those numbers by just eating fruits and vegetables. Walmart's (the largest retailer in the USA) soda and junk food sales says it all. Don't kid yourselves: the reason fresh produce is at the front of the store is so they would sell the produce that goes bad first -- when the shopper is not even thinking about his/her budget yet. The store then places chocolates, sweets and candy at the register so the shopper would reward himself for going through the shopping experience. Supermakets are designed by psychologists folks. In statistics, a random sample of families IS considered the "average" (for the above stats and not the photo project).

Tanya's picture

People should be smarter than those psychologists. They should think for themselves. It doesn't even occur to me to buy a chocolate bar at the check out. If I do have a craving for something bad, all I have to do is flip it over and read the horrible print.. I get disgusted and put it back. :D

Marie Antoinette Ortega Reyes's picture


Frank Hvam's picture

Mexico, 50% vegetables and 50% Coke. I wonder what makes them fat...

Chris Helton's picture

was thinking the same thing. Thats like 5 gallons of Coke a week.

Deleted Account's picture

Pop and tacos at night!

Catalina Kanter's picture

Tortillas with every meal! But made from scratch like my godmother makes them........ so, so hard to only eat 1! Oh, and the pan dulce!

Erica Jarrell's picture

I noticed the veggie and Coke thing, too. Rather, I thought it was strange to be so health-driven in one area (yay veggies!) and so absent-minded in another (boo Coke). Any good the veggies are doing being counterbalanced with the soda! Coke is delicious but it's horrid for our bodies! Just a side note, Mexicans statistically aren't any fatter than Americans or Australians...just saying...

Tanya's picture

I'm so glad I don't think Coke is delicious! :D

Sean Rowden's picture

Mexicans aren't any fatter than people in the two fattest countries on the planet? Duly noted.

Tanya's picture

I think I saw a lot of fruit. Pop and fruit. Sugar and more sugar.

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