Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Review - Daily Bread: What Kids Eat Around the World

Daily Bread: What Kids Eat Around the World

by Gregg Segal
Date: 2019
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 120
Format: hardcover
Source: library

As globalization alters our relationship to food, photographer Gregg Segal has embarked on a global project asking kids from around the world to take his "Daily Bread" challenge. Each child keeps a detailed journal of everything they eat in a week, and then Segal stages an elaborate portrait of them surrounded by the foods they consumed. The colorful and hyper-detailed results tell a unique story of multiculturalism and how we nourish ourselves at the dawn of the 21st century.

From Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, Dakar to Hamburg, Dubai to Mumbai we come to understand that regardless of how small and interconnected the world seems to become each year, diverse pockets of traditional cultures still exist on each continent, eating largely the same way they have been for hundreds of years. It is this rich tapestry that Segal captures with care and appreciation, showcasing the page-after-page charm of Daily Bread. Contrasted with the packaged and processed foods consumed primarily in developed nations, questions about health and sustainability are raised and the book serves as a catalyst for consideration of our status quo.

There's an old adage, "The hand that stirs the pot rules the world." Big Food is stirring the pot for children all over the world. Nonetheless, there are regions and communities where slow food will never be displaced by junk food, where home-cooked meals are the bedrock of family and culture, and where love and pride are expressed in the aromas of stews and curries.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

A friend on Facebook posted an article about this book, prompting me to seek it out. It's a fascinating look at the diets of children around the world, showing how food corporations have touched nearly every life on our planet.

Profiling a week's diet of children from a handful of countries, the book highlights the contrasts and the similarities of what kids eat. Quantity doesn't always equal quality, and those living in some of the wealthiest places also have the worst diets, full of packaged food and lots of sugar. I found the indigenous children in Brazil particularly striking, especially compared with their city counterparts; the former have diets that would make a nutritionist weep with happiness, while the latter would just make a nutritionist weep. Societal norms are also expressed in the children's words, like that of a nine-year-old girl from India who isn't allowed to go to school because she has to take care of her baby brother... whom her mother loves more than her.

This is a long book, and will probably take a few sittings for most readers to get through. But it's interesting, and the spreads of food are fascinating to look at. I was, however, disappointed by the amount of typos, and the selection of places is a bit sparse. That last point is understandable, given funding issues, but I would've enjoyed seeing what kids ate in other places, too: Mongolia, Russia, Iceland, northern Canada, Australia, South Africa... and many more could have been included. The fact that even the USA is highly concentrated in southern California makes the selection of children seem... well, kind of bunched up. There isn't as much diversity as there could've been, even though it was interesting to see how diets varied wildly even within a particular city.

Readers who enjoy non-fiction titles like Children Just Like Me will probably be the audience for this book. It's not necessarily a children's book, either; adults will probably find the subject matter just as fascinating.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.67 out of 5

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