What the World Eats

by Scott Smith

This is one of those photo projects that makes me smack myself on the forehead and wonder, ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ It’s so simple, so well executed and gives the viewer so much information through it’s individual pictures as well as through the body of work as a whole about poverty and prosperity, how much food has to do with culture and the way globalization is changing that. You can tell by looking carefully at the pictures which countries American companies are expanding into, and which ones that they aren’t.

The homogenization of the world aside, it is especially humbling to see and think about the Aboubakar family who are living in a camp in Chad as refugees from the Darfur region. Their food for a week costs $1.23 through the World Food Programme. They are provided with unmilled sorghum, pulses, some garlic and onions, 5 limes, dried okra, dried tomatoes, dried red pepper, dried goat meat, a few condiments (including 1.4 lbs of sugar – I used at least 5 lbs today making strawberry jam), and 77.7 gallons of water. The water has to be stretched for every imaginable purpose so cultivating some of their own food would be impossible in the desert area they inhabit. While almost all of their food is provided by the United Nations World Food Programme, the mother works (for a dollar a day) to buy her family extra things.

The Aboubakar Family

npr story
Time Magazine photo essay