I’m always curious to know what people spend on when it comes to groceries. I wished more of you would send me photos of What’s In Your Grocery Cart… (keep ’em coming)! It’s a great way to keep track of what you store in your kitchen – the first place you’re gonna raid when you’re hungry! Stocking up on mostly sweet drinks and ready-to-eat snacks is obviously not going to do your diet any good. Try to stay away from the frozen section and aisles where you’ll find the *real danger* –  snacks and packaged food. I typically do my groceries every 2 or 3 days, buying mostly fresh fruits, meat and vegetables, depending on how much I’m cooking at home.

In the book Hungry Planet, photographer Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio present a photographic study of families from around the world, revealing what people eat during the course of one week. Each family’s profile includes a detailed description of their weekly food purchases; photographs of the family at home, at market, and in their community; and a portrait of the entire family surrounded by a week’s worth of groceries.

To assemble this remarkable comparison, Menzel and D’Aluisio traveled to 24 countries and visited 30 families from Bhutan and Bosnia to Mexico and Mongolia, and recorded what they ate for a week. Menzel photographed each family in their kitchen with the week’s worth of groceries, while D’Alusio interviewed them about their food habits and family structure. Accompanying the portraits and narratives are detailed breakdowns of each family’s grocery list, more photographs of the family and home country, and statistics for each country visited.

*Note: The book was made about 7 years ago, and the prices were of that time.

Germany & Italy

The Melander family of Bargteheide (Germany) | Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily | Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Beer is a major part of German culture. My Germasian friend (half German, half Asian) once questioned why it is such a cliché to think that all Germans love beer… Here’s why – Germany is ranked 2nd in terms of per-capita beer consumption! (1st: Czech Republic, 3rd: Austria, 4th: Ireland) Germans drink beer like Americans drink soda! 😀

Favorite foods include fried potatoes with onions, bacon and herring, fried noodles with eggs and cheese, pizza, vanilla pudding. Fresh fruits are less available so colder-climate vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes are consumed the most.

The Italian diet is extremely heavy in carbohydrates due to their large consumption of bread and pasta. Their favorite foods include fish, pasta with ragu, hot dogs, frozen fish sticks. While seasonal vegetables and herbs are the source of much flavor and nutrition, they also depend on canned/ready-to-eat processed foods in their daily diet.

United States of America & United Kingdom

USA: The Caven family of California | Expenditure on food for one week: $159.18
United Kingdom: The Bainton family of Cllingbourne Ducis | Expenditure on food for one week: 155.54 British Pounds or $253.15

In USA (California), the Caven family reveal some of their favorite foods which includes beef stew, berry yogurt sundae, clam chowder and ice-cream. In the UK, on the other hand, the Bainton family say they enjoy foods such as avocado, mayonnaise sandwich, prawn cocktail, chocolate fudge cake with cream. Evidently, both regions spend the most on packaged goods. Americans are getting nearly one-third of their calories from junk foods: soft drinks, sweets, desserts, alcoholic beverages, and salty snacks.

Japan & China

Japan : The Ukita family of Kodaira City Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25
China: The Dong family of Beijing | Expenditure on food for one week: 1 233.76 yuan, or $155.06

The Japanese and Chinese diet is a culturally interesting comparison. Both diets are heavily rice based, and every meal is usually served with common meat sources such as fish, seafood and chicken. Fresh seafood is abundant in Japan, hence raw food is also more prevalent in their traditional diet. Canned or frozen foods are normally avoided as fresh fruits in season is the normal snack and dessert. However, I think the usage of soya sauce and other seasonings in their dishes contribute to a diet that may be relatively high in sodium.

See the rest of the photos here, or go on Amazon to get yourself a copy of the book for your coffee table. It’s fascinating how different dietary lifestyles compare in various parts of the world. An abundant food supply doesn’t guarantee that a nation will have the healthiest or safest diet. If this topic interests you, perhaps you’d also like to read on the Top 10 Countries With Healthy Food.

Looks like I’m having Japanese for dinner again tonight!


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