Hungry Planet: What the World Eats Book Review

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Another wonderful and thought-provoking book by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. Though not exactly in the same series as Material World and Women in the Material World, Hungry Planet does visit a few of the same families, including the Namgays in Bhutan, the Ukitas in Japan, the Batsuuris in Mongolia, and the Natomos in Mali and it’s fun to revisit them and catch up on the news, so to speak. Other countries include France, Greenland, Egypt, and the Philippines. This time, each family is photographed surrounded by a week’s worth of food, and it is no less fascinating than their possessions.

Again, some of the contrasts are shocking (even the difference between the meager allotment granted to a Sudanese refugee family in Chad and the diet of a local family in the same country was painful to contemplate) but one of the most notable lessons of the book for me was that wealth correlated with more food, not necessarily healthier food. The Namgays, a poor farming family in rural Bhutan that got their first electric light bulb during the same period the book was being photographed, appear to have one of the healthiest diets in Hungry Planet, while the book’s introduction notes that several of the Western families (including the Revises, one of three families from different ethnicities in the USA) were so appalled by how they really ate that they changed their diet after being photographed for the book!

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My rating: (4 / 5)