Last week the Guardian ran an article in its Weekend magazine about the weekly food consumption of families in different parts of the world. For each of the families featured (in Mongolia, Mali, Turkey, USA, Japan, Bhutan, Cuba and Bosnia) they listed an average week’s worth of groceries.
Most striking was not the vast difference in quantity between Euro/American and African/Asian countries. In terms of bulk consumption, the Mongolian and (admittedly much larger) Malian families far surpassed the Americans. Rather, the distinction was in the *variety*. Where the Malians got by on huge sacks of grain and pulses and the Cubans ate a fairly standard diet of meat, fruit and veg, the notable feature of the US and Japanese diets was the number of different ingredients, brands and processed substitutes they had access to.
Oddly, there was no British (or any northern European) family, which, I’m guessing, would have shown a fairly moderate midpoint between traditional warm’n'filling nourishment and modern brand obsession. As it was, the Bosnian diet seemed closest to how I imagine the average British family would be.
Back to the Americans, though, any family of four which gets through 340g of INSTANT coffee in a week is just plain worrying.