Photojournalist Peter Menzel and his wife and writer Faith D'Aluisio, from California, spent three years travelling to 30 countries visiting countless people to document what they eat over the course of a single day. The result is a fascinating study of people and their diets. Menzel’s long research culminated in a stunning photobook entitled "What I Eat: Around The World In 80 Diets" where Menzel featured 80 profiles including such diverse types as a Japanese sumo wrestler, a Massai herdswoman, an Arctic hunter, an Indian Hindu sadhu, a Sudanese refugee in Chad, a Tibetan yak herder, a Bangladeshi factory seamstress, and a wounded Iraq war veteran, among others. Each image is accompanied by a detailed breakdown of the meals and brief essays on food politics and cultural obsessions with diet.
The profiles are organized by calorie intact per day, starting with a Kenyan Maasai herder who eats just 800 calories a day, mainly in the form of cornmeal porridge, and ending with a British mother with a eating disorder who consumes an unbelievable 12,300 calories a day of pure junk.
Through the various diets, “What I Eat” provides great insight into food habits of people around the globe. For instance, we learn that a Latvian beekeeper’s meal consist mainly of homemade pork meatballs and boiled potatoes, while a homemaker in Yemen relies on mutton and vegetable stew flavored with fenugreek, and that a Vietnamese rice farmer eats rice noodles in fish sauce for breakfast. Some of the findings are fascinating. A Brazilian fisherman consumes a whopping 5,200 calories a day, but as Menzel's photo shows, he has an average build, and the quantity of food on his table seems reasonably healthy: whole milk, an entire freshwater fish, pinto beans and noodles. Compare that to an American truck driver who gets his 5,400 calories from cheeseburgers, fried foods and Starbucks.
“What I Eat” isn't the first book from husband and wife team Menzel and D'Aluisio. A few years ago, their book “Hungry Planet” documented what families from around the world eat over the course of a week.
Camel broker Saleh Abdul Fadlallah with his day's worth of food at the Birqash Camel Market outside Cairo, Egypt. The caloric value of his day's worth of food on a typical day in the month of April was 3200 kcals. He is 40 years of age; 5 feet, 8 inches tall; and 165 pounds.
Robina Weiser-Linnartz, a master baker and confectioner with her typical day's worth of food in her parent's bakery in Cologne, Germany. The caloric value of her day's worth of food in March was 3700 kcals. She is 28 years of age; 5 feet, 6 inches tall; and 144 pounds. She's wearing her Bread Queen sash and crown, which she dons whenever she appears at festivals, trade shows, and educational events, representing the baker's guild of Germany's greater Cologne region.
Shashi Kanth, a call center worker, with his day's worth of food in his office at the AOL call center in Bangalore, India. He is 23 years of age; 5 feet, 7 inches; and 123 pounds. Like many of the thousands of call center workers in India, he relies on fast-food meals, candy bars, and coffee to sustain him through the long nights spent talking to Westerners about various technical questions and billing problems.
Tersius "Teri" Bezuidenhout, a long-haul trucker delayed by paperwork at the Botswana-Namibia border stands next to his truck with his typical day's worth of road food.
Oscar Higares, a professional bullfighter, with his typical day's worth of food in the bullring in Miraflores De La Sierra, Spain, on a training day.
The head monk at his partially rebuilt monastery with his typical day's worth of food in the Tibetan Plateau. The caloric value of his day's worth of food in June was 4,900 kcals. He is 45 years of age; 5 feet, 5 inches tall; and 158 pounds.
Curtis Newcomer, a U.S. Army soldier, with his typical day's worth of food at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California's Mojave Desert. The caloric value of his day's worth of food in the month of September was 4,000 kcals. He is 20 years old; 6 feet, 5 inches tall; and 195 pounds. During a two-week stint before his second deployment to Iraq, he spends 12-hour shifts manning the radio communication tent (behind him). He eats his morning and evening meals in a mess hall tent, but his lunch consists of a variety of instant meals in the form of MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat). His least favorite is the cheese and veggie omelet.
Din Memon, a Chicago taxi driver, with his typical day's worth of food arranged on the hood of his leased cab on Devon Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. The caloric value of his day's worth of food in the month of September was 2,000 kcals. He is 59 years of age; 5 feet, 7 inches tall; and 240 pounds. His favorite food includes Kebabs, chicken tika, or biryani. Tika is dry-roasted marinated meat, and biryani is a rice dish with meat, fish, or vegetables that is highly seasoned with saffron or turmeric.
Conrad Tolby, an American long-distance truck driver, photographed with a typical day's worth of food on the cab hood of his semi tractor trailer at the Flying J truck stop in Effingham, Illinois. The caloric value of his meals this working weekday was 5,400 kcals. At the time of the photograph Tolby was 54 years of age; 6 feet, 2 inches tall; and weighed 260 pounds. His meals on the road haven't changed much over the years - truck stop and fast-food fare, heavy on the grease, despite warnings from his doctor. He has more reason than most to watch his diet, as he's suffered two heart attacks both in the cab of his truck. The trucker travels with his best friend and constant companion, a five-year-old sharpie dog, named Imperial Fancy Pants, who gets his own McDonald's burger and splits the fries with Conrad.
Mariel Booth, a professional model and New York University student, at the Ten Ton Studio in Brooklyn with her typical day's worth of food. The caloric value of her day's worth of food on a day in the month of October was 2400 kcals. She is 23 years of age; 5 feet, 9.5 inches tall; and 135 pounds. At a healthier weight than when modeling full-time, she feels good but laments that she's making much less money.
Katherine Navas, a high school student, on the roof of her family's home in a barrio in Caracas, Venezuela with her typical day's worth of food. The caloric value of her typical day's worth of food in the month of November was 4,000 kcals. She is 18 years of age; 5 feet, 7 inches tall; and 157 pounds.
Oswaldo Gutierrez, Chief of the PDVSA Oil Platform GP 19 in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela with his typical day's worth of food. The caloric value of his day's worth of food on a day in December was 6000 kcals. He is 52 years of age; 5 feet, 7 inches tall; and 220 pounds. Gutierrez works on the platform for seven days then is off at home for seven days. While on the platform he jogs on its helipad, practices karate, lifts weights, and jumps rope to keep fit. His food for the seven days comes from the platform cafeteria which, though plagued with cockroaches, turns out food choices that run from healthful to greasy-fried. Fresh squeezed orange juice is on the menu as well and Gutierrez drinks three liters of it a day himself. His diet changed about ten years ago when he decided that he'd rather be more fit than fat like many of his platform colleagues.
Nguyên Van Thuan, a war veteran, with his wife in their studio apartment with his typical day's worth of food
Saada Haidar, a housewife, with her typical day's worth of food at her home in the city of Sanaa, Yemen. The caloric value of her day's worth of food in the month of April was 2700 kcals. She is 27 years of age; 4 feet, 11 inches tall; and 98 pounds. In public, Saada and most Yemeni women cover themselves for modesty, in accordance with tradition.
Bruce Hopkins, a Bondi Beach lifeguard, with his typical day's worth of food in Sydney, New South Whales, Australia. The caloric value of his day's worth of food on a typical day in the month of February was 3700 kcals. He is 35 years of age; 6 feet tall, and 180 pounds. Hopkins eats moderately - rarely, if ever - eats fast food, and drinks alcohol only when he and his wife go to dinner with friends.
Shahnaz Begum, a mother of four, outside her home with her microloan-financed cows and her typical day's worth of food outside her home in the village of Bari Majlish, an hour outside Dhaka.
Solange Da Silva Correia, a rancher's wife, with family members in their house overlooking the Solimoes River, with her typical day's worth of food. The caloric value of her day's worth of food on a typical day in the month of November was 3400 kcals. She is 49 years of age; 5 feet 2.5 inches tall; and 168 pounds. She and her husband, Francisco (sitting behind her, at right), live outside the village of Caviana with three of their four grandchildren in a house built by his grandfather. They raise cattle to earn income and sometimes a sheep or two to eat themselves, but generally they rely on their daily catch of fish, and eggs from their chickens, for animal protein. They harvest fruit and Brazil nuts on their property and buy rice, pasta, and cornmeal from a store in Caviana. They also purchase Solange's favorite soft drink made from guarana, a highly caffeinated berry indigenous to the country.
Coco Simone Finken, a teenage vegetarian who lives in the city of Gatineau, Quebec, Canada with her day's worth of food. The caloric value of her day's worth of food on a typical day in the month of October was 1900 kcals. She is 16, 5' 9.5" and 130 pounds. The family doesn't own a car, buys organic food if it's not too expensive, and grows some of their own vegetables in their front yard.
Willie Ishulutak, an Innuit soapstone carver in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada with one day's typical food, and drink. The caloric value of his day's worth of food on a typical day in the month of October was 4700 kcals. He is 29 years of age; 5 feet, 9 inches and 143 pounds. Carving is one of the few traditions of the Inuit that has made the leap into the wage-earning modern world. Willie says he can complete two or three pieces in a day, then sell them in the evening at bars and restaurants in Iqaluit for $100 ($93 USD) each, and sometimes more.
Neil Jones, the Director of Operations at the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, with one day's worth of his typical food in the skypod of the tower. The caloric value of his day's worth of food on a typical day in June was 2600 kcals. He is 44 years of age; 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 220 pounds. The viewing platform is above the world's highest revolving restaurant, which revolves 360 degrees. The award-winning restaurant has awe-inspiring views and, for a tourist destination, surprisingly excellent food. The pricey entrance and elevator fee of about $25 per person is waived if you eat at the restaurant, making it cheaper to have lunch than to just see the sights.
Xu Zhipeng, a freelance computer graphics artist and Internet gamer, with his typical day's worth of food in his rented chair at the Ming Wang Internet Café in Shanghai, China. The caloric value of his day's worth of food in June was 1600 kcals. He is 23 years of age; 6 feet, 2 inches and 157 pounds. He lives at his computer station, day and night, sleeping there when he's tired and showering once a week at a friend's apartment. His longest continuous game lasted three days and nights. When he tires of gaming at the café he reads fantasy books.
Chen Zhen, a university student, with her typical day's worth of food on Nanjing East Road in Shanghai, China. The caloric value of her typical day's worth of food in June was 2600 kcals. She is 20 years of age; 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 106 pounds. Although she doesn't care for noodles or rice, a special rice roll is her favorite snack: black glutinous rice wrapped around youtiao (fried bread), pickled vegetables, mustard greens, and flosslike threads of dried pork. Zhen and her friends eat at KFC about three times a week, something they couldn't afford without the company's coupons. Meanwhile, her father and grandparents, who live in a tiny apartment in northeast Shanghai, go without meat during the week so they can afford to share a special meal with Zhen on her weekend visits.
Lan Guihua, a widowed farmer, in front of her home with her typical day's worth of food in Ganjiagou Village, Sichuan Province, China. The caloric value of her day's worth of food on a typical day in June was 1900 kcals. She is 68 years of age; 5 feet, 3 inches tall; and 121 pounds. Her farmhouse is tucked into a bamboo-forested hillside beneath her husband's grave, and the courtyard opens onto a view of citrus groves and vegetable fields. Although homegrown vegetables and rice are her staples, chicken feathers and a bowl that held scalding water for easier feather plucking are clues to the meat course of a special meal for visitors. In this region, each rural family is its own little food factory and benefits from thousands of years of agricultural knowledge passed down from generation to generation.
Maria Ermelinda Ayme Sichigalo, a farmer and mother of eight with her typical day's worth of food in her adobe kitchen house in Tingo village, central Andes, Ecuador. The caloric value of her typical day's worth of food in the month of September was 3800 kcals. She is 37 years of age; 5 feet, 3 inches tall; and 119 pounds. With no tables or chairs, Ermelinda cooks all the family's meals while kneeling over the hearth on the earthen floor, tending an open fire of sticks and straw. Guinea pigs that skitter about looking for scraps or spilled grain will eventually end up on the fire themselves when the family eats them for a holiday treat. Because there is no chimney, the beams and thatch roof are blackened by smoke. Unvented smoke from cooking fires accounts for a high level of respiratory disease and, in one study in rural Ecuador, was accountable for half of infant mortality.
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