My husband I went to the Museum of Science in Boston today with our $5 tickets from the library. And there, on the top floor of the building was this fabulous exhibit! Inside was a large room devoted to photographs and explanatory paragraphs about this project. Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio studied a sampling of diets from around the world. No, not the South Beach Diet, Mediterranean Diet, or the type of eating advocated for in French Women don’t get Fat. Rather, they sought out a variety of people and interviewed them on their lifestyles, jobs, and especially their eating habits. Then they compiled this into a book over 300 pages long profiling each person, and interspersing essays from food-famous people like Joel Salatin and Wendell Berry.
The Museum of Science Exhibit highlighted 25 people from the book, representing several people from each continent, and diets ranging in caloric intake from 800 to 4,000. One purpose of the book was to call attention to the fact that a calorie is just a unit of measurement, and that people who eat more calories aren’t necessarily fatter. In fact, there’s quite a number of surprises in that regard.
There were plenty of other things I was surprised about too. When I entered the exhibit hall and started with their low calorie day of 800 with a woman from Kenya, I thought, Of course, Africa. The second lowest, at 1400, is Bangladesh. But as I worked my way around, the progression didn’t follow the GDP of countries. One of the women who ate over 3000 calories a day was a Ecuadoran farmer, plenty of potatoes and grains in her diet. Plenty of the people who ate a lot of food worked physically laborious jobs. This seemed to be one of the few trends you would expect. Another was that, the higher the calories consumed, the more came from beverages like sodas, milks and Red Bull (in the case of a truck driver). And, as I already stated, many of the people who ate the most calories weren’t fat.
Fascinating fascinating exhibit. Equally so the conversation which surrounded us as we slowly walked through it. Teen girls instructing boy(friend?)s that 2000 calories a day is a “normal” amount. Astonishment at the types of food people eat (Raw Clams). Surprise as how potato chips featured so prominantly. “Maybe Lays is a sponsor.” (spoken bitterly).
Here is the website of the book, and this is the link to the contents of the book. Even seen as a pdf file, the variety is astonishing, though it can’t compare with the beautiful photographs of a daily food intake of someone. A pictures is worth…well, you know.