Saturday, May 16, 2009

So hungry...

Another beautiful day in P-town... (sigh).

But I'm not here to talk about the weather; I'm here to talk books. There is no shortage of books about food these days. From Michael Pollan to Mark Bittman to Mark Kurlansky, we are all well informed about the state of edible consumption in the 21st century--basically, it's no bueno. The reason these books are so fascinating is because they seamlessly weave together the cultural, social, agricultural, economic, historical and environmental factors of food production and consumption to form a thorough and holistic portrait of just how vital our food choices are to the future of the planet.

While I'm a big fan of the aforementioned authors, there is another book I'd like to recommend, which addresses the same issues but in a different (and in my opinion, more palatable) format. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel, is a collection of photo-essays that brilliantly capture the wide variety of diets and eating habits of different cultures around the globe. Families from Bhutan to Poland and beyond are photographed surrounded by every single food item they will consume in one week. The range of foodstuffs and quantities is staggering. Each photo is accompanied by a breakdown in price, calorie content and type of food (i.e. grains, vegetables, meats, condiments, etc.) of one week's worth of food. I also find it interesting to note how much packaged food each family eats, and how the same brand's packaging differs from country to country. But that's just me--doubtless you will find another minute detail to focus on that catches your interest.

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