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Kid Tip: Read "Hungry Planet" with your child

At the recommendation of one of our GreenGroup members, I borrowed a copy of the book Hungry Planet from our local library. My 6-year-old is fascinated by it. It's a large, coffee-table book, filled with pictures and descriptions of what 30 families from 24 different countries eat during a typical week. Each chapter starts with a huge photo of all the family members and their total week's food and drink intake laid out before them. It breaks down what they spend in different food categories:

  • Grains & Other Starchy Foods
  • Dairy
  • Meat, Fish & Eggs
  • Fruits, Veggies & Nuts
  • Condiments
  • Snacks & Desserts
  • Prepared Foods
  • Fast Food
  • Beverages
  • Miscellaneous

It gives dollar equivalents for the total they spend each week. It takes you on visual journeys of what food shopping and cooking look like in different countries, shares their favorite foods and recipes, and details varying food storage methods.

As you can imagine, there's a world of difference between what the family of four Americans in Atlanta (including two teenaged sons) eats and spends ($341.98) in a week, and the the family of 15 in Chad (who spend and feed themselves on a mere $26.39). I was shocked to learn in our NWEI "Menu for the Future" course this week that if the whole world ate like Americans all fossil fuels would be exhausted within 7 years. This book very clearly illustrates the packaging and processing that is at the heart of the western diet, the excess of land-intensive meat production, the food waste, and the mountains of food-like products we consume (sodas, processed snacks, desserts, etc.)

Reading this book has been a great way to share the diversity of the world with my inquisitive daughter without leaving home, and she's very naturally wondered out loud about how some families only eat meat on special occasions, and maybe our family should try that too. My husband and I have resisted the urge to wrest the book from her hands (so we can better read it ourselves), and will probably pick up a copy for our home library. It's a fascinating learning tool, and we all have lots to learn regarding how we feed ourselves now and into the future.


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