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We really are what we eat An eye-opening look at what we eat, and how much we spend, on our weekly groceries.

This week I saw some extraordinary pictures taken from The Hungry Planet, of ordinary people proudly posed with their week's supply of food.They came from all walks of life, from over 30 different families from countries all over the globe.

Reading the jacket cover to the Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio below, we see that today we are witnessing the greatest change in global diets since the invention of agriculture.

Globalisation, mass tourism, and giant agribusiness have filled American supermarket shelves with extraordinary new foods - and McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Kraft Cheese Singles are being exported to every corner of the planet.

In Hungry Planet, the creative team behind the best-selling Material World books, Peter Menzel and his wife, Faith D'Aluisio present a photographic study of families from around the world, revealing what people eat during the course of one week.

Each family's profile includes a detailed description of their weekly food purchases; photographs of the family at home, at market, and in their community; and a portrait of the entire family surrounded by a week's worth of groceries.

To assemble this remarkable comparison, Menzel and D'Aluisio traveled to twenty-four countries and visited thirty families from Bhutan and Bosnia to Mexico and Mongolia.

Excerpt from the foreword of the Hungry Planet book: Originally released in late 2006, this innovative photographic and narrative book continues to generate tremendous interest.

Time Magazine, along with numerous other publications, both in the US and in the families' home countries used the subject of food costs and choices to feature full-length articles on and reply in articles and publication covers across the globe.

Even if you do have no interest in owning the book, there is extensive subject matter placed on the Menzel/D'Aluisio website, including all of the related magazine features.

At this point, you must be curious as to what these families buy and what these pictures show. Take the verbal journey with me and check out the costs on the accompanying chart. All native currency converted to US dollars.

What's in a foodsworth week? The German family of four spent the most - $ 500 dollars on 36 bottles of beer, four bottles of wine, convenience pizza, bread, pre-packaged dairy products and about 25 percent fresh veggies.

The US family of four, at $346 was pretty close, much less beer, but tons of convenience food, several pizza take-out orders, rice-a-roni, processed cereal, processed meats, and so on. And onward down the food chain, the pictures go as we see the influence of the Western world convenience food mentality.

In Mexico, the amount of soda consumed with grains, fruits and vegetables is fairly shocking as is seeing other country families such as, China and showing almost all fresh ingredients, but still displaying USA Kellogg's cereals, McDonald's French fries and cans of soda. Polish families love candy.

It is not until you reach families living on modest means in Egypt that the choices in food encompass mostly raw ingredients and no processed foods.

In the worst of the tragic sense, the last family photographed in quiet dignity lives in a refugee camp in Chad, feeding six people, including three small children on $1.62 a week. There are no convenience foods here, nor vegetables or fruit, mostly low cost filler grains and starches, with an occasional egg.

The disparity between the biggest and most frugal food spenders is staggering! In our world, where we have recently had the humiliation of being told that we top the list of some of the most overfed people on earth, perhaps these evocative images will help motivate all of us to eat less, consume less energy, waste less products and recycle more.

Certainly, we know that we don't need all that we eat to still have a qualify life. Imagine if we donated only 10 dollars a week out of our newly reduced food budget.

Here are my foods for thought.

• Empty expensive calories are still calories that add up. Our food purchases have two problems associated with these choices: we are buying the wrong foods, and then piling up bodily injury by eating in excess.

• Too much food = too large a body mass.

• The greater the convenience packaging, the lesser the amount of real food.

• Water or soda, if it's bottled. It is costly consumption and a disposal problem - use a Melita water filler and avoid those sugary drinks all together.

So how can you use this book or the website to change your lifestyle to becoming more financially well?

Take drastic action - cut your food budget by 25 percent. If you can cut down on the amount of food you consume, you've made a start.

Give everyone smaller portions in your house; you know from these pictures that you need far less food for survival.

Martha Harris Myron CPA is a dual citizen (Bermudian/US). She is a Senior Wealth Manager at Argus Financial Limited specialising in wealth investment advisory services for capital preservation and comprehensive financial solutions for clients considering lifestyle transitions and rewarding retirements. Confidential email can be directed to marthamyron[AT]northrock.bm or 294-5709

The article expresses the opinion of the author alone. Under no circumstances is the content of this article to be taken as specific investment, legal, tax or financial planning advice, nor as a recommendation to buy/ sell any investment product.

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