What The World Eats

Time has a great photo essay documenting everything that several families from all around the world eat in a typical week. Above is the Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna, Poland. They spend 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27, and their favorite family recipe is pig’s knuckles with carrots, celery and parsnips.

It’s a fascinating look at what we’re all consuming, literally. —MEGHANN MARCO

What The World Eats [Time via Kottke]
(Photo: TIME)

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  1. saram says:

    I remember a photo essay like this a few years back. At the time, the family from the US had way more food stuffs, including boxed and wrapped goods, than any other families combined. Interesting to see how things are changing.

  2. Darren W. says:

    It’s also interesting that 8 out of the 15 families pictured had a Coca-Cola. Kellogg’s also made a good showing.

  3. hepburn says:

    Kind of ironic that some of the families who spend the least actually have the healthiest diets.

    I love how the German family has TONS of beer and wine in their weekly shopping.

  4. hubris says:

    My god those Germans are spending a lot a week on food.

    Yeah, I noticed Coke being everywhere, too. God bless the US for helping to bring unhealthy, processed, horrible food to the world.

    I found it interesting that those who have the least were the ones smiling the most in the pictures. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

  5. TechnoDestructo says:

    I notice the only ones with even anywhere close to as much prepackaged, processed food as the Americans are the Germans and the British (with the Chinese, Japanese, and Kuwaitis being way ahead of all the ones below that little cluster)

  6. TedSez says:

    I was worried that the two American families were the only ones who seemed headed for diabetes… then I saw the Brits.

  7. jgkelley says:

    The book this is culled from, Hungry Planet, is worth checking out at the library.

  8. Dustbunny says:

    I want to go to that Chinese family’s house for dinner and have fried shredded pork with sweet & sour sauce. Yummm.

    OTOH, there’s the Brit family’s fave food: mayonnaise sandwiches. I bet that’s as gross as it sounds.

  9. Fascinating.

    A few observations…

    Did you notice that the German family’s food was arranged in the neatest rows?

    I’ll freely admit that we are a household of food Nazis, so we’re not typically American, but dear God. Does the Revis family ever poop? And when they do, what sort of horrific experience must it be? Is there a single leafy vegetable in that mass of processed garbage? I see, what, three tomatoes and a pound of grapes? That’s the extent of their fruit and vegetable intake for a week?!?!

    Yum, I’m moving to Sicily. Or maybe Cairo.

  10. zolielo says:

    Per week we (two people) avg $68.62 for food in and $24.15 per week for food out. For a total $92.77 on avg per week.

    United States: The Revis [four members] family of North Carolina .Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

  11. Kavatar says:

    I spend about $20 a week on food. Then again, I’m a college student. Then again, I couldn’t see myself spending that much more when I’m not in college anymore, unless I get lazy and eat out every day.

  12. Marce says:

    Wow. The amount of processed food on the tables in the US and UK are worrisome.

  13. Snakeophelia says:

    Dang, the Germans go through a lot of booze in a week. They must have neatly arranged all those bottles and packages BEFORE consuming their daily allotted amount of beer.

    And, yeah, I actually thought the UK table looked less nutritious than the US tables. The Sicily table, though – yum! All that Italian bread!

  14. acambras says:

    Anyone who’s ever done any amount of grocery shopping can tell you that heavily processed foods add a lot to a grocery bill.

  15. kimsama says:

    There’s a great story on NPR about this book that came out a few years ago. It has lists of some of the families’ weekly groceries broken down into categories.

    The radio program talks about the Revis family realizing that they didn’t have that great of a diet (too much fast food).

    And I agree that the $ amounts seem high — I wonder if that’s because it looks like they are including things that these families eat every week that you don’t have to buy every week. I mean, I lived with a Jp family and they would never have had to buy the like 9 bottles of sauce and the several pastes (mustard and wasabi, I assume) pictured every single week (more like once every month or two months). So I’m sure that’s skewing the totals.

  16. gondaba says:

    That’s a disgusting amount of Coca-Cola for The Casales family of Cuernavaca. I’m surprised they still have teeth.

  17. MeOhMy says:

    In Germany the beer is A) really good and B) pretty cheap. If you lived in Germany, you’d drink a lot of beer, too.

    The American families are kind of embarassing to me. Even the hipster CA family is eating a lot of garbage. Does that really represent the “garden variety” American pantry? I always knew that I kept a healthier-than-average pantry, but if this is any indication, I must be in the 90th percentile.

  18. quagmire0 says:

    I think I saw this exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Yeah, I was also ashamed by what the American families were eating – all processed crap. Meanwhile other countries incorporate alot more produce. Hell, I even think those countrys who spend .30 a week eat better. :P

  19. What, you got fucking Ulanbatar, but missed Canada?

    Screw you, Time.

  20. kerry says:

    I read somewhere that Swedes consume more processed and preserved food than anybody else on the planet, I wonder if that’s still true.
    Also, I think it’s awesome that the Kuwaiti family eats corn flakes. Who knew you could buy corn flakes in Kuwait?
    I remember seeing a bunch of these photos when Hungry Planet came out and being surprised by how much I’d rather be eating with the the “poor” people and their fresh fruits and vegetables (and big smiles) than the relatively dour Americans or Brits. I also remember being alarmed by the amount of Coca-cola consumed by the Mexican family. Holy crap, that’s like 20 liters a week!

  21. Elara says:

    If you like this kind of stuff, he also wrote a book called Material World that does the same kind of thing, but with the belongings of different families around the world. It’s absolutely fascinating to read.

  22. gamble says:
  23. bbbici says:

    kuwait and cairo looked amazing– and cheap! i thought all they ate was sand.

    mexico also looked pretty good, but that family must only drink coke. perhaps the water isn’t potable where they live.

    the british family was disturbing. two cases of chocolate bars?!

    i was surprised to see the black americans’ bill so cheap despite the amount of take-out and processed foods.

    and wow, africa. where else can you get two 20kg sacks of grain for less than a dollar?

  24. tvh2k says:

    Am I the only one who saw the picture of the Sobczynscy family and thought, “wow, their daughter is actually really cute.” Sorry, not to be creepy :-P

    Anyway, when I saw the Revis family in North Carolina I thought to myself, “I don’t really eat that stuff. I’m much more healthy than that”. You have to realize that it’s hard to represent an entire country’s dining habits with a picture of a single family. Although it could be argued that citizens of the United States have more diverse dining habits due to the fact that they tend to come from more diverse backgrounds and cultures.

    On another note, I think it’s really sad to see the differences in wealth across the world. The Aboubakar family, for example, only spends $1.23 a week on food! Heck, I’ll swipe twice on the subway ($4) to go get sushi because I’m too lazy to walk the 15 blocks to the place I like.

  25. jurgis says:

    Wow the British family almost beats the NC family for worst diet… yuck.

    The Mexican family consumes way too much Coke.

    It’s funny that almost EVERYONE has bananas. It also seems that every modern nation has a bit of American food. I.e. pop, Kellogg’s, and potato chips. I also so boxes of macaroni and cheese in a few odd places.

  26. itonix says:

    O’Hare international terminal has similar photo expo from around the world. There the families bring out their furniture and other possessions next to their house. Well worth to check in early.

  27. AcidReign says:

    …..Having browsed two “healthy” grocery stores last night (my wife and I went to grocery stores on our date night. Are we getting old, or what?), Tria Market and Whole Foods, I can definitely say that processed is NOT more expensive than fresh. Good lord! Whole Foods had ribeye steaks at $24.95 a pound! (Sam’s Club is about $8) I don’t even think you could get lettuce or celery for less than $5 a pound in those places!

    …..Farmer’s markets CAN be cheaper than the grocery store, but often are not. This year, pickings are slim. All of the green plums died in the drought, too. No green plums this year, damnit.

  28. Bhutan looked the most appealing to me.