In the process of shooting 7 Days of Garbage, I began to look more deeply at food – what we’re eating and throwing away. The conversation about what we should and shouldn’t be eating is growing louder, but how much – if at all – are our diets changing? To find out, I’m asking kids to keep a journal of everything they eat in a week. Once the week is up, I replicate the meals (with a small army of stylists) and make a portrait of the child with the food laid out on a table.
I’m focusing on kids because eating habits, which form when we’re young, last a lifetime and often pave the way to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and a myriad of other health problems. Rather than focus on prevention, we ignore warning signs, expecting a magic pill to fix us once our health is in danger. But pharmaceuticals and other “cures” are costly and come with a slew of negative side effects.
For those who say, it’s not my problem, it is; we’re all picking up the health care tab, so we ought to focus on the root of the problem by taking a closer look at what we’re feeding our kids. My aim is to call out diets that are lacking (and there is a dearth of greens on most kid’s plates) but, more importantly, to highlight balanced diets – and to launch a campaign to record nutritious meals all over the world. In a recent episode of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain visited a school lunchroom in Lyon, France and found kids being served a nutritious and mouth-watering three-course feast for about $1.50 per student (half of what we spend in America for nearly inedible school lunches)! I’ll map diets in regions like Lyon and Crete, which has a very low incidence of heart disease thanks in large part to a diet rich in seafood, olive oil and fresh vegetables; and Okinawa, which sees very little breast and prostrate cancer and where you’ll find a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables like squash, papaya, melons and cabbage – and plenty of whole soy and seaweed.
There are far better answers out there than the old school, Western diet of processed foods we’ve grown accustomed to in the last couple of generations and Daily Bread will feature many of the simple meals made from whole foods that can be prepared at home – a rebuff to the empty, packaged foods being promoted to us in big budget commercials.
Daily Bread the book will collect portraits of kids from all over the world with a week’s worth of their meals along with recipes for dishes worth sharing. But the work doesn’t end with a book. The deeper goal is to be a catalyst for change. Daily Bread links to a growing, grassroots community that is sharing information, learning from one another and moving the needle on diet.