Friday, January 25, 2008

"All of Y'all Need to Eat More Whole Grains. 'Ceptin' the Poor 'Uns. You're Good"

"Wait! What's that?" asked seven-year-old Girl, catching a glimpse of the email I had opened on the computer tonight.

"It's just a message someone sent. But it's time for bed; go choose your book, and then we'll brush teeth," I responded, ever task-minded at 8 p.m. I get profoundly more task-minded when my husband has just run to the local brewhouse to pick up a Growler (read: big-ass jug) of micro-brew Stout for us to crack open as soon as the kids are snoring and dreaming of their Webkinz.

"No, but who are those people on the screen? I want to see them," she insisted.

"Okay, okay, but quickly. Then it's read, brush, and hop into bed with you, " I conceded, turning the laptop's monitor her direction. Quickly, there on the bed, Girl was joined by her five-year-old brother, Dinko, who chimed in, "What're all those people doing? I wanna see too."

"Well, the pictures in this message show people from all over the world standing next to the food they ate in one week. Then it tells us how much it cost for them to buy that food. Basically, it's showing us how different we are in the ways we're most the same." As I've mentioned before, I'm the parent who's devotedly working towards turning her children into The Boors in the Corner at future art openings.

For the next ten minutes, after we were joined by Groom (who'd been downstairs frying up onions, peppers, and fajita meat--cost: $5.43) on the bed, our little crowd of family scrolled through the photos again and again, up and down, responding to requests to "see the Italian people again so I can see their bread" or to "show me one more time the ones who live in a tent."

During this spontaneous family gathering, it was noted that:

--those Ecuador people don't seem to live in a rich house...but they have the best smiles
--Egyptian people are lucky because they live in Ancient Egypt, where the mummies are
--the Bhutan people have a richy-looking house, but there sure are a whole lot of them in it
--the Germans need to mess things up a little
--the Mexicans drink too much pop
--the Americans eat a shezbang of junk food
--the Polish people have the cutiest stuffed grey elephant in the whole hungry world

Do you see what we saw?


Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11



Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07


United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week $341.98


Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09


Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27


Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53


Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55


Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03


Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

---------------------------

As we powered down the computer, the kids asked if we couldn't delete the photo of the crap-eatin' Revis family of North Carolina and substitute it with one of our family and its weekly eats.

"We'd have to put lots of apples and oranges in the picture," Dinko noted.

"And for my lunch at school, I'd need five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," piped up Girl.

"Then we'd need a bouquet of biscotti," I continued...

"Plus yogurt, granola, pears, carrots, peas, and a box of Teddy Grahams," contributed Groom...

before we all shouted in unison, "And a tower of homemade cookies!"

Ten minutes later, after the kids' ears had been filled, their teeth swabbed, their bladders emtpied, and their bodies strapped to their beds,

I tromped down the stairs towards the Oatmeal Stout in a Jug,

and

I took a happy second to savor

my blessed good fortune.

40 comments:

August said...

Fabulous post, Jocelyn. What an interesting idea.

The Aboubakar family break my heart. Those slim pickings are hardly enough for one person.

As for your "Boors", they are very discerning. Little darlings, they are.

August

geewits said...

That was fascinating! Where did you find that? I noticed the Revis family of North Carolina, my home state, had some KFC. Mmmmm, KFC. Now I want to go back and study the picures some more!

Casdok said...

The power of the photo. Great post.

Star said...

That was a reat post. Where did you find that? THe pictures re trul worth a thousand words.

furiousBall said...

Interestingly enough, if this was done with 80s pop bands, Kaja Goo Goo spent $9,867 a week. Limahl loved him some Slim Jims, in fact that's all he ate... well, that and mini chocalate donuts. He had his own tour bus because of his "Limahl ass".

liv said...

It's interesting that this has been on my mind this week, too. Granted, it's just me and my two munchkins, the cats and the dog, but I have been trying to experiment with what we can get by on. I have spent $50 this week instead of randomly dumping crap in my cart and that feels pretty good. The waste we were experiencing here at the casa de madness shamed me to no end. Maybe the some of the leftover money can go to those who need to eat. I need to think on this.

C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C said...

Great post! It's quite incredible to see the difference in food consumption around the world, isn't it?

I saw this on one of the other blogs I was reading the other day too. I think I'm going to show your post to Hubby! Maybe he'll appreciate his brussel sprouts now! :)

Her Grace said...

What a wonderful, teachable moment.

Maddy said...

Fabulous, all round, from every angle.
Best wishes

frannie said...

one of the best posts I've ever seen!!

and I am so with your kids! How embarrasing that people think that is how all Americans eat!!! that is disgusting!!

lime said...

it is astonishing what $5 in bhutan will get you or $68 in egypt. all those fresh veggies! the german family's orderliness did crack me up and growing up where i did i can totally imagine so many people lining up their foodstuffs that way. the family in chad broke my heart. we are blessed in deed, though we could learn a thing or two from the folks who have mountains of fresh produce on their tables.

is there a site that shows more?

as for your question regarding photo set up for my picture this week. the camera was on a tripod and hung over the shower door.

oreneta said...

Those photos are amazing....have you ever seen the book "material world"? Similar premise, but it is what we own and where we live...taken over more countries...Well worth a purchase for the kidlets. A little, very necessary perspective.

Jill said...

Wow, having it all set out makes the differences pretty stark. Funny how the people who look the happiest seem to have the least.

Claudia said...

It amazes me the difference in eating habits between countries. I mean look at the N.C. family, those two pizzas could have been exchanged for rice and vegetables that would feed an entire village in some places. As Americans we truly are gluttons sometimes.

What a fabulous post darling, it's nice to see something unique out there in a sea of same same blogging. Kudos.

velvet said...

Oh. My. God. It was like "Where's Waldo" to find the vegetables in the American picture.

These pictures were really eye-opening, considering how little food some of those families live on. It truly does make me thankful.

My Reflecting Pool said...

I'll pour my wine and drink with you to our good fortune to! Wow. That was insane and amazing. I'll be showin this to my kids!

CS said...

My older son showed me these photos once, and talked about the differences. Trying to turn me into a boor in the corner of an art opening, I suppose.

I wish the American family weren't tyoical, but I think they are. I can't tell you how many patients i have who are quite strapped for cash who stop for some Krystals on the way in, or bring a giant soda with them. And it is cheaper to eat that way, which seems like a sin. (Here's my idea for reducing health care costs in the U.S.: the government whouls subsidize oranic farming, and also fruits, vegetables and whole grains to make them far less expensive. Then slap a sin tax on highly processed and fatty foods. Bet that would change Americans eating habits.

cathy said...

another awesome thought provoking post. my kids will soon be regular readers if you keep this up....

...Then we can go to that art gallery and our kids can all stand in the corner together.


DRAT! word verification 3rd attempt

rak said...

i am so careless with my good fortune... always throwing something away that has gone bad before i eat it... so careless, so fortunate.

Jamie said...

Amen! What a sweet post.

CS said...

Congratulations! I have an award for you over at my place!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is amazing! As an anthropologist (and foodie) at heart, I love this sort of thing.

Wonderful pictures and your family's comments were delightful. This is definitely a post to ponder as I prepare our dinner tonight, and every night.

my4kids said...

I agree with the kids you should substitute the American family. We don't eat anything like that!

I liked the comments the kids made though, funny to hear what kids see when they look at pictures like that. Usually something different then we do or they actually say what we may be thinking but don't say.

Claire said...

Amen, sister! Truly a fabo post.

SQT said...

The lack of anything resembling fresh food in the American house was frightening.

Leafy greens people! Leafy greens!

Theresa said...

They published something similar in El Pais (the main Spanish newspaper) not so long ago. We would look something like the Italian family, except with less soda and more beer. Quite thought-provoking, isn't it?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Honestly, as I am reading this, I have two thoughts. Thought Number one is that this is a great post. Thought number two is that you are a great mom. You are raising up your kids with a good head on their shoulders and a good heart too.

AmyTree said...

I notice that the American family are the only ones with fast food on their table...

ana said...

Great post, very thought provoking. and yeah Americans do eat a bagful of junk...

steve said...

Can my teenagers come over and spend a night looking over your shoulder? I'd be happy if they learned half of what Girl and Dinko know.

Minnesota Matron said...

Yes -- I've seen this. It's staggering how much we cram into our bodies while people starve and die. It's really shameful. There's this great essay by Peter Singer, "The Peter Singer Solution to World Poverty" in which he argues that people with more money than they need for the essentials are morally obligate to give away ALL of their extra money. He argues if you were standing in front of a dying child, you'd give her food. But we're able to do this in other ways, yet we don't. Very sobering.

Not that I want my comment to rival the length of the original post, but this also reminds me of when we watched Idol Gives Back, the American Idol bit where they went to Darfur or somewhere equally desolate. Pretty Ryan interviewed a 12 year old orphan who cared for his younger sibling in a box, basically. They both wept for their dead parents.

My children watched this and became, frankly, hysterical. Scarlett is a terrible miser and she handed me her wallet (with like $500 in it, I'm serious), SCREAMING, "Give it to them!" We spent the rest of the evening in high crisis mode. They needed to save these children and were shocked that we were just sitting here, going to bed, when that 12 year old boy lived in a box without parents.

Makes Peter Singer's argument real for me.

Soul Level said...

Good post. We grew up on beans. (I still like beans). We also so rarely had fresh oranges that when we had eaten them we would put the peels in the window and eat them when they had dried.

Now I'm just a regular American.

Mother of Invention said...

Wow! Pretty neat and powerful to see this...and yes, we are most of us, luckier than we know and should be wearing huge smiles.

Tai said...

OOOH!
Maybe Spidergirl mentioned it here already (I haven't read all the comments yet), but there's a book out that shows ALL the BELONGINGS of various families from around the world. (Very much in the same style as this).
She'd remember the name of it, I hope she posts it here.

Great, sad, interesting post.

Diana said...

Blessed good fortune, indeed! Sobering: the price differences, the processed foodstuffs differenced, the packaging differences.

Princess Pointful said...

Oddly enough, I found that same set of photographs when my parents were visiting, and we sat down and looked at them together, too. Glad it was so inspirational :)

Glamourpuss said...

That elephant is, well, elephantine.

For all the seriousness of the subject matter, the thing that really made me laugh here is that you are every inch the teacher. Takes one to know one, so I allow myself an indulgent chuckle.

Puss

Wayfarer Scientista said...

We are damn lucky. Thanks for sharing.

Spider Girl said...

Tai mentions a beautifully photographed book that I read a while back. I thought about for a long time afterwards. I will highly recommend it to you because it's fashioned in the same style as this comparison of family's food, and no doubt your children would enjoy it---they are keen observers.

It is called "Material World: A Global Famly Portrait" by Peter Menzel, and when you see families from around the world with their possessions out in front of their homes it really makes one think.