J500 Media and the Environment

Snapshots of supper by kimwallace
March 25, 2008, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Food + Health, Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

One thing that struck me as I was viewing different families’ weekly food consumption around the world was the lack of fruits and vegetables at the Americans’ table. Both the North Carolina and the California families displayed different colored food at each respective table, but those vibrant colors came from punchy packaging and wild ink splashed across cardboard and plastic. At tables across the globe, greens and other earth-tones showed up on the cutting board, reminiscent of diets lower on the food chain and, seemingly, less expensive on the wallet.

The time-old argument that “Americans eat junk food” almost always falls on deaf ears–we’re immune to this chastisement over and over again because these words are never personified–until now. Without the images attached to the copy, this post would have been just another chart and comparison of eating habits around the world. But, seeing the smiling faces of people with different skin color, clothing and shelter really makes you stop and think about what the food really means in a culture.

For example, look at the Japanese family. They are sprawled out on cushions on the floor, surrounded by fresh fish, steamed rice and juicy fruits. I bet their kitchen always smells good. All for $317.

Fast forward to the North Carolinians. They are seated comfortably on dining chairs with food spread about their kitchen counters and dining table. Bright bursts of red, purple, yellow and blue dominate the image–but these colors come not from delicious fruits and vegetables, but from saturated inks and dyes on paper and plastic packaging. This comes at a cost of $348–and maybe a few extra pounds.

The Mexicans look like they have it best. They have a whole table devoted to bananas, watermelons, avocados, tomatoes and other fresh goodies. I’m not sure if they’re going to turn that into delicious guac or salsa later, but the fact that it will be by their own hands instead of by a machine’s is enough to convince me to dine on some salty chips and guacamole. This, plus other goodies for a week, is earth-shatteringly cheap–$189.

This photo project definitely put how the world eats in perspective, especially for those who have never been abroad. For me, coming from an Asian-American background and having been to my mother’s home country, Vietnam, looking at this post gave me more insight to non-Asian countries as well as European countries and their eating habits. Sure, you can rely on the stereotypical “Germans eat Franks and Japanese eat sushi” food typing, but with pictures, you can see that it is so much more. I’ve always joked that if you could take a look at the different food I was raised on, as a multicultural American, you would see a t-bone steak and a bowl of rice.


What would I see from you?



2 Comments so far
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You are making me hungry. Here is what you would see from me – too much packaging!
Breakfast: organic banana & steel-cut organic oatmeal
organic fair-trade coffee with skim organic milk
Lunch – microwavable Amy’s Kitchen meal I can eat at the office
Snack – chocolate, ideally organic and fair-trade but I will eat anything
Dinner – if i am lucky, a salad with Wakarusa farms greens, maybe bread and local hummos or maybe a salad & empanada from Wheatfield’s

Comment by j500

Mmm, packaged deliciousness. I’ve gotten on a tea kick since I started working at Ogden. We get a lot of glamazon teas—the one I tried today, a jasmine green tea, was individually packaged in plastic 😦

Comment by kimwallace

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