Monday, February 3, 2014

Hungry Planet: What Americans Eat on Super Bowl Sunday...

I was only half joking when I said to my students that the day after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday. If "sloth" qualifies as a reason to defend my wish, we might have a fighting chance. 
United States: The Revis family of North Carolina. Food expenditure for one week: $341.98. Favorite foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken.
As mentioned in "A Different Take on Super Bowl Sunday," after Thanksgiving, we eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year! It's also a day that we eat and drink entirely too much that has little to no nutritional value. For example, my plate featured a cheese laden pig in a blanket, next to a festive football cupcake and plenty of Fritos for dipping into my chili. I shouldn't be surprised that Americans ate "1.25 billion wings during Super Bowl XLVIII." Maybe it's time for a movement for game day road races similar to the ever popular Turkey Trot. Anything for damage control, right?
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca. Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09. Favorite foods: pizza, crab, pasta, chicken.
Perhaps however, it's not so grim. Maybe your Super Bowl party offered a variety of healthy and no so healthy nibbles. You might have taken the kids out during half time for your own football match up. It's likely that your no-sugar challenge or New Year's resolutions gave you pause to think twice about what you made or baked, what you ate and enjoyed. And thus it was in that spirit that I started to wonder "What does the typical Super Bowl party look like?" What does one find, other than chicken wings on most tables and TV trays.
China: The Dong family of Beijing. Food expenditure for one week: 1,233.76 Yuan or $155.06. Favorite foods: fried shredded pork with sweet and sour sauce.
I don't have the answer, but a similar question is what guided Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio for over 10 years as they sought to document—through photography—the most basic of human behaviors — what we eat. 

Their project, "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" is a book and a traveling photo essay; it depicts everything that an average family consumes in a given week–and what it costs in thought-provoking detail. The Nobel Peace Center gave viewers a peek into kitchens from Norway to Kuwait, and to raise awareness about how environments and cultures influence the cost and calories of the world’s dinners. (Time World)
Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo. Food expenditure for one week: $31.55. Family recipe: Potato soup with cabbage.
As written on their website, the Nobel Peace Center
When did you last think about food? Probably not very long ago. People may come in all shapes and sizes, but we have one thing in common: we must have food to survive. But food is more than just fuel for the body. Food is identity, culture and an opportunity for social interaction. 
Weekly menus through 13 yearsThis exhibition shows what families around the world eat in one week. While much is the same, there are also huge differences. Can you find the family that uses 175 teabags in a week? Where does the family that puts muskox and walrus on the dinner table live? Have you discovered many vegetables that you’ve never seen before? Who spends just over $1 a week on food, and who spends more than $700? Why do you think people eat the way they do? 
The social aspect surrounding a shared meal is fundamental to human life and is common to all cultures. Our dinner table tells us something about our culture and about the basis of our existence. The food we eat reflects our identity, but meals can also bring people together across cultures. Today the whole world is our breadbasket. Food is transported by sea and road from all over the world, and our meals are becoming increasingly independent of seasons and of where we live. 
The first family visited by photographer Peter Menzel and journalist Faith D’Alusio was the Çelik family from Turkey in January 2000. Since then the pair have interviewed and photographed families from all over the world. The last family to be photographed were the Sturms in Germany in June 2013.
Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp. Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23. Favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat.
Looking at families around the world and what we share, makes me reconsider—perhaps Super Bowl Sunday should be a national holiday. From the game, to the advertisements, to the traditions and food, it reflects our identity. It brings people together of different ages, creeds and cultures. And like America, it is ever changing, ever dynamic, ever surprising. 

I know the majority of Americans found the Seattle Seahawks' rout of the Denver Broncos to be a Super Bore, but it's always about much more than just the game. It's about friends, family, food and football...and maybe it's in that order.

Read more: Hungry Planet: What The World Eats

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