Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving! Today, all over the United States, people will sit down at loaded tables and gorge on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. We'll celebrate our blessings with family and friends. We'll take walks and watch football games. And that is how it should be. Even though, this has been a hard year for so, so many, there is still much that is good and right with the world…

This week, my sons and I have spent time looking at WHAT THE WORLD EATS, a book of photo essay of food from around the world. Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio travelled to over twenty countries all over the globe- places like Bosnia, Chad, Ecuador, Greenland, France, Mexico, Mongolia, the Philippines, and the United States. In each country, they selected one or two families and spent time learning about what they eat and how they live. 

Each section in WHAT THE WORLD EATS is about one of these families. The section opens with a full page, color picture of the family, surrounded by a week's groceries (it's more than a little startling to learn that a family in a refuge camp in Chad spends $1.22 per week on food, while one of the American families spends $342). On the opposite page, there is a grocery list, broken down into the food groups. The chapter contains interview with the family- information about how/where they get food, how they prepare it, how they eat. There are also tons of full color photographs of families at grocery stores and street markets, preparing and cooking food, and eating.  Fact boxes contain snippets of information about the country- population, amount spent on health care, amount of pop consumed. Most chapters also have a recipe. 

After every few chapters, the authors include a section called "Photo Gallery." These two page spreads, about topics such as kitchens, fast food, and street food, are  fascinating visual comparisons (the spit roasted guinea pig did gross me out a little!). These are followed by sections called "The Numbers," graphic displays of everything from life expectancy, to literacy rates, to amount of meat consumed, to number of McDonald's. I could teach an entire unit on graphs- line graphs, bar graphs, pictographs, etc., using the material in this book. They're outstanding!

I know it's cliche, but sometimes, a picture truly is worth a thousand words. That's definitely true of WHAT THE WORLD EATS. It's a book every library in the United States should own. I think it's become a new Thanksgiving tradition for our family…

1 comment:

Franki said...

This looks great! I know about his others but didn't know about this one. Is it something you'd share with your students or is it more of an older kid/adult book?