Yesterday, David sent me a link to images from a book called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluision. It was in turns heartbreaking and horrifying, but overall completely fascinating. You can find a number of the images here.
There were a few things that I found particularly interesting. One was that in many cases, the food represented in the wealthier nations was more calorie dense and less nutritionally dense compared to that in less wealthy nations. While there was less food per person in say, Guatemala the nutritional quality was far superior to that found in the US basket of foods.
Another thing that stood out was the striking difference of the carbon footprint of a ‘Western’ diet compared to some more traditional/ less industrialised diets. For example, Turkey vs. Australia.
LOOK AT THE MEAT! OH MY GOSH! LOOK AT ALL THE DAMN MEAT. In fairness, I don’t know a lot of people who eat that amount of meat, but as a representative basket for many Australian families, I don’t think that it’s that far off. When that’s considered in the context of how much environmental damage is caused by animal farming, and how much it contributes to climate change, it’s just gobsmacking what a huge impact we’re having. The Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eaters Guide is one of my favourite resources on this.
Some of the images were of course, totally unsurprising. The enormous gulf between the quantity available in some countries compared to others was expected, but the starkness of the images was still quite confronting. As it should be. The inequality between the availability of food and between the levels of environmental destruction that we wreak through what we eat are issues that should be widely known and considered. Climate change isn’t just a matter of driving less and turning the lights out, and food shortages in many countries are still a reality, even when there aren’t starving children on the TV every night. I’d really encourage you to check out the link, and indeed the book. It’s mesmerising stuff.