Recalling food from childhood for many in the West brings sugary treats to mind. Western cultures have a habit of indulging their cravings for saturated, sweet food and the sharp increase of people with diabetes is enough proof.
Photographer Gregg Segal had the idea to photograph children with the food they eat to document their eating habits from a young age, because those habits often stay with people well into adulthood. Segal was especially motivated to capture these children with their food before the globalization hits their tables. His assumption is that traditional foods in other cultures are healthier and represent a more balanced diet. The proof is in the photos.
Gregg explains, “As the saying goes, the hand that stirs the pot rules the world. The hand that’s stirring the pot is motivated by profit, and it’s stirring a big pot—our contemporary food culture has created epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and a myriad of other health problems. This is not localized in the West but is being felt from Mexico to Qatar, China to Brazil, Australia to India—anywhere industrialization is on the rise. Indeed, sensing the sea change in attitude about diet and the physical effects of junk food, fast food companies have begun investing heavily in foreign markets, where public awareness isn’t as keen.
Before globalization overwhelms traditional regional diets, I’m making my way from Asia to the Middle East, from Europe to Africa and South America asking children to keep a journal of everything they eat in a week. Once the week ends, I make a portrait of the child with the food arranged around them. I’m focusing on children because eating habits, which form when we’re young, last a lifetime and often pave the way to chronic health problems.”
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