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Sierra Daily

Jan 05, 2011

Chew On This

Whatieat In our March/April issue Sierra will present an interview with writer Faith D’Aluisio, who, along with her photographer husband Peter Menzel, created the can’t-put-‘em-down-despite-their-heft coffee-table books Material World: A Global Family Potrait, (Sierra Club Books, 1994); Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Material World, 2005); and What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets (Ten Speed Press, 2010).

The pair have perfected the art of global eavesdropping  But there are also some scary lessons to be learned about how the world lives. Among them: that highly processed food from the global marketplace is changing diets worldwide. (The traditional Japanese diet is among the healthiest in the world, says D’Aluisio—that is, if you can find someone who is still eating it.)

For a quick lesson in the global reach of manufactured food and its effects, take a look at The Fattest Place on Earth, a segment recently aired on ABC’s Nightline. The South Pacific island of Nauru, the smallest independent republic on the planet, has the highest prevalence of Type-2 diabetes in the world. A staggering 95 percent of  the island’s adults are overweight, and 85 percent of its men are clinically obese. Blame it on an addiction to manufactured food that started in the 1980s when the country got rich off its phosphate mines, exploited for fertilizer. (At one point Nauru had the second-highest per-capita income in the world.) People who once survived quite well on fish, coconuts, and root vegetables now eat imported processed foods that are high in sugar and fat.

The video is eye-opening. And maybe it'll help you keep your New Year resolution to shed some pounds.

--Reed McManus

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