Sitting down to a daily family meal has long been a tradition for billions of people. But in every corner of the world this age-old custom is rapidly changing. From increased trade between countries to the expansion of global food corporations like Kraft and Nestle, current events are having a tremendous impact on our eating habits. Chances are your supermarket is stocking a variety of international foods, and American fast food chains like McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken are popping up all over the planet. For the first time in history, more people are overfed than underfed. And while some people still have barely enough to eat, others overeat to the point of illness.
To find out how mealtime is changing in real homes, authors Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio visited families around the world to observe and photograph what they eat during the course of one week. They joined parents while they shopped at mega grocery stores and outdoor markets, and participated in a feast where a single goat was shared among many families. They watched moms making dinner in kitchens and over cooking fires, and they sat down to eat with twenty-five families in twenty-one countries—if you’re keeping track, that’s about 525 meals! The foods dished up ranged from hunted seal and spit-roasted guinea pig to U.N.-rationed grains and gallons of Coca-Cola.
As Peter and Faith ate and talked with families, they learned firsthand about food consumption around the world and its corresponding causes and effects. The resulting family portraits offer a fascinating glimpse into the cultural similarities and differences served on dinner plates around the globe.
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