Menzel and D'Aluisio profile the meals and eating habits of twenty-five families around the world. Each family is photographed in their home with all the food that they eat in one week, which is then painstakingly listed in detail by category. Also included is a written profile of the family, their daily routines, their thoughts about food, and their cooking. More photographs illuminating specialized farming or cooking for the area are included, as are boxes containing additional information about the countires. After every few families are a few pages that aggregate ancillary information into charts and graphs, like the number of McDonald's restaurants each country has, or the percentage of obese people in each country. This is a book simply packed to bursting with fascinating information.
Naturally, my favorite part is looking at the pictures of a week's worth of food. You can learn so much about a culture just by looking at what people eat. For example, the American families' pictures contain more food than people, while the family in Bhutan depicts $5.03 worth of food and thirteen people. The family from Australia eats a lot of meat, but the Guatemalan family is pictured with a table full of vegetables. The Japanese family has more fish in their picture than any other family, and look at all those bananas the family from Ecuador eats!
I could spend hours poring over these pictures of people and their food, and I could go on endlessly about the details you find when you take the time to look (the family from Turkey eats 32 loaves of bread a week, but there are only 30 in the picture because they ate two loaves while waiting for the photograph to be taken). But the text that accompanies each family's picture is equally, if not more, interesting. And who doesn't love charts and graphs?
Children of all ages will find something to interest them in this book. Older readers will be able to take this information and generate some interesting questions about wealth, health, and political-social implications of food availability. Younger children will love looking at the pictures and learning about how children in other countries eat. What the World Eats is a must-have.
What the World Eats
Photographs by Peter Menzel, Written by Faith D'Aluisio