Imagine keeping a journal of everything you ate in a week and then having your photo taken, surrounded by all that food.
What would your diet look like in one photo?
More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). And on top of that, the CDC notes that about one in five school-aged children has obesity.
That’s partially what prompted photographer Gregg Segal to explore diets in the U.S. and around the world through his latest series, Daily Bread.Segal explained that his Daily Bread photo series grew out of a previous project he did called, “7 Days of Garbage,” where he asked people to save their trash for a week.
“In the process of seeing all the garbage, I noticed how much [food] packaging there was,” Segal said. “It made me think about how much of the food we eat is processed, package food.”
Segal said he decided to focus the photo series on kids because the eating habits we form at a young age can last for a lifetime.
As part of the project, Segal asks kids to keep a detailed food journal of everything they eat for a week, including the portion size. From there, he has food stylists and cooks go out and recreate all the meals.
“Once the meals are prepared, then I would have the kids lay down on a piece of fabric and arrange the food around them,” he explained.
When Segal traveled to India, he photographed a girl named Anchal Sahni, who lives in a little aluminum shack with her family on a construction site outside of Mumbai. Although her dad only makes about $5 a day, Segal said, Anchal’s diet compared to those of many middle-class kids he photographed in India, was pretty healthy.
In India it’s almost a status symbol to be able to afford to buy a Domino’s pizza, which costs about $13,” he said.
In the U.S., on the other hand, Segal said he noticed that those who don’t have a lot of money are much more likely to eat fast food because it’s “cheap and readily available.”
But Segal also visited areas like southern France and Sicily where there’s a long standing food culture. There, he photographed kids with a lot more fresh, healthy, homemade meals.
A 2015 study conducted by the University of Cambridge, looked at the diets of almost 4.5 billion adults across 187 countries and found that the overall healthiest diets were in:
- Sierra Leone
- Ivory Coast
So far, Segal has photographed kids in Malaysia, India, parts of Europe and Senegal. Segal said he’s hoping to include at least one country in every region of the world as part of this series.
“I have yet to photograph in the Middle East and I think that’s important to include, because many of the Middle Eastern countries have some of the highest rates of obesity in the world, in large part due to the boom in fast food industries there,” he added.
Beyond that, Segal hopes to document the Amish, as well as Eskimo culture.
When people see this series, Segal said he hopes it prompts them to evaluate their own diet and perhaps take the Daily Bread challenge.