What the World Eats (in One Week)

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The following stats and images are excerpted from the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio (2007, Ten Speed Press). While these may not be typical families representative of food consumption habits in their respective countries, the disparity is startling. We might not expect Chadian refugees and wealthy Germans to have very much in common, but these images leave no doubt that the world's food shortages are at least partly a problem of distribution.

Of course, the nature of our consumption also plays a major role. Currently the average Chinese, Indian, or African resident eats less meat than someone in a more "developed" country (or continent, if we can generalize Africa). But that's changing quickly, thanks mostly to growing personal affluence in "developing" countries and a seemingly innate human preference for meat, eggs, and milk. On the other hand, as countries reach a certain level of affluence (such as in the U.S. and Northern Europe), meat consumption tends to level off. In the U.S. this level seems to be around 220 pounds of meat per person per year.

So while the western/developed world eats the most farm animals today, future growth will come from less developed countries, especially those with the largest populations (even if they don't end up reaching 220 pounds of meat consumed per capita). Progress with in vitro meat has the potential to change all that, but it'll have to happen quickly. With that context in mind, see the images below for examples of where people are starting from with their current diets. The pictures show what each family consumes in one average week. Note: They are shown in order of average weekly food expenditure, highest to lowest.

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23


It's amazing how much food can be bought for so little. I was googling and found this, some great pics too.

We waste a lot of food.

We waste a lot of food.

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