Wednesday, March 16, 2011

{Books on the Shelf} What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets

What do you eat on an average day?

Where does your food come from?

How do you prepare it?

A bit ago, I shared my discovery of a great book by husband and wife traveling photographer/writer duo, Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio:

I found their feast for the eyes and mind at my local library, and inspired by that first read, I quickly placed a hold on their more recent 2010 publication:

After waiting patiently for months as I crept higher and higher on the library's list, I finally got my hands on a copy, and now that I've taken my time perusing its fabulous pages, I thought I'd share the inspiration with you.

Part Lonely Planet Travel book, part sociology commentary, part essay collection featuring such authors as Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry, What I Eat breaks down the daily diet of 80 individuals with caloric intake ranging from 800 calories in drought ridden Kenya to 12,300 calories in the well stocked suburbs of Great Britain.

With a forward by Marion Nestle and a lovely passage of "Collective Wisdom" on eating supplied by recognizable figures as varied as Mark Bittman, Francis Coppola, Jack LaLanne, and Alice Waters, the book sets out with the reminder that everyone eats. Food choices, sources, and customs play into the daily nourishment of our bodies, and the geographical exploration of diet, habit, and health puts in a new light the food we consume each and every day.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & Other: Categories of food consumed, listed by type and quantity. The month of the year is noted, and explanations made for seasonal differences in diet.

Beautiful photos and engaging text reveal Italian Friars, Israeli Rabbis, Egyptian Businessmen, Brazilian Fisherman, Tibetan Monks, Japanese Sumo Wrestlers, American Models, Icelandic Fisherman, Namibian Pastoralists, German Brewers, and Spanish Shepherds classified by age, height, and weight, with occupation and daily meals detailed for all to see.

The book comes to a fitting close with Wendell Berry's The Pleasures of Eating, a favorite essay reminding us all:

Eating "is an agricultural we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used." - Participate in food production - Prepare your own food - Learn the origins of the food you buy - Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer - Learn as much as you can about the economy and technology of industrial food production

I encourage you to get your hands on a copy and take an armchair tour of the world and its beautiful people, diverse diets, and amazing resources.

Excellent Food for Thought.


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