Eating the planet

14 March 2008 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Photo by Peter Menzel, The Hungry Planet

Trevor Harvey writes:

I contributed to an event run by one of our food retail clients this week, and one of the other speakers showed some pictures from Hungry Planet, a photo-essay (“30 families, 24 countries, 600 meals”) about who eats what around the world.

Time magazine did a selection of the families, with some data on their food budgets and their favourite meals, and there’s also a audio feature from the US National Public Radio show All Things Considered with an associated web page which has the full weekly food shops from four of the 30 families (Darfur, Gemany, the USA, and China).

Looking through the pictures, it seems as if – with the obvious exception of the very poor – that those with more money for their food budgets are likely to have worse nutrition, at least judging by the amount of processed foods on display. They have less fresh food and an awful lot more packaging. In contrast, those with smaller budgets tend to have favourite family meals (the richer families talk about ‘favourite foods’ – processed again – rather than favourite meals). At risk of romanticising, the poorer families also seem to be smiling a lot more.

One of the trends we’re noticing at the moment is that the proportion of income spent on food is going up, for the first time in three decades. This is partly because basic prices are going up. Although it’s a complex story, it’s possible to imagine that a combination of price increases, the pursuit of wellbeing, and a desire for the more authentic might mean that the more affluent will start shifting their food budgets to more natural foodstuffs – with the health benefits that would follow.

The photo above by Peter Menzel, taken from The Hungry Planet, shows the Melander family, from Bargteheide, Germany, with a week’s worth of food.

Entry filed under: food, global.

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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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