Hungry Planet: What The World Eats is a book by photographer Peter Menzel that examines what different cultures eat and the health effects of those choices in a way that makes the problem of modern diets impossible to ignore.
When I clicked this link my boyfriend’s sister posted to Facebook, all of the gears in my mind screeched to a halt and immediately tried to reconstruct what our photo would look like. Well, we don’t drink ANY soda, I thought to myself after seeing pyramids of soft drinks in almost every photo. And we NEVER order pizza, or eat fast food, and I can’t remember ever having potato chips in the house. Look at my high horse. See how it shines. But our (relatively) good diet is a thing of luxury. We eat well because we can. Because I work part time from home and have the benefit of keeping a healthy kitchen. Growing up, my single mother rarely had a chance to cook anything from scratch, and while we were never too strapped financially, she worked 60+ hours a week to take care of us, leaving little time for fresh meals.
It is only after having the free time to establish a healthy kitchen that I’ve streamlined the process and learned how to incorporate it into our daily lives. Making fresh, raw, delicious kombucha takes minutes a week, but you need a scoby and a tiny bit of ancient knowledge. Almond milk is stupidly easy to make, but you need good almonds and 15 minutes with a blender after soaking them over night. And eliminating store bought bread is probably the single largest way I’ve found to cut freaky commercial ingredients out of our daily diets, but, again, I can only continue to do so because I work from home. Who else has the time to proof dough and watch oven timers without baking themselves out of house and home?
Fast food culture isn’t wholly socioeconomic, but poorer families undoubtedly have less time and access to the resources necessary to maintain healthy diets. We need to stop attacking the symptom and give people the tools to fight the disease. This means education, understanding food deserts, and each of us living by example in our own lives. Encourage a friend who’s thinking about starting a vegetable garden, take the time to cook for our families when we can instead of ordering takeout, and let big agro and fast food companies know that we do not support their work by voting with our wallets (and saving our arteries some trouble).
If you’re as fired up as I am about the lack of access and affordability of healthy whole foods, take a look at this TED Talk by renegade garden hero Ron Finley:
I’m curious now about keeping track of what we eat in a week and what the photo of our gastronomic lives would look like.