Comparing Your Diet to the Rest of the World's

6, 7, 8

Students assess their personal diets and view pictures of families around the world with the food they eat in a week. Through awareness and discussion, they view cultural and regional differences. They discuss the health, cost, and distribution of food around the world.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast their health habits/food choices with habits of others locally and globally.
  • explain how their health choices are related to global issues.
  • reflect on personal responsibility for people who do not have sufficient food.
  • explain why food choices are limited by resources, culture, and geography.
  • Internet access to view images at OR a copy of the book Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio, Publisher: Material World (September 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0984074422, ISBN-13: 978-0984074426
  • world map or globe
  • chart paper or display area with five columns entitled: Country, Number of Family Members, Cost of Food per Week (in US dollars), Predominant Food Group(s), Ratio of Natural to Processed Foods (estimate)
  • access to Wordle at to make word clouds
Teacher Preparation 

Prepare a chart for the class to fill in with the following five column headings: Country, Number of Family Members, Cost of Food per Week (in US dollars), Predominant Food Group(s), Ratio of Natural to Processed Foods (estimate)

  • undernourished: not having enough food to maintain health and growth
  • subsistence: just enough to stay alive
  • over-consumption: over use of goods that results in poorer health of the original organism, i.e. a diet high in fat, sugar, salt
  • processed food: food which has been chemically altered through additives such as flavor enhancers, binders, colors, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, and emulsifiers; food altered from its natural state through combination or other methods
  • packaged foods: foods packaged outside of the home (often purchased in a box, bag, or can)

Menzel, Peter, and Faith D'Alusio. Hungry Planet. Publisher: Material World (September 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0984074422, ISBN-13: 978-0984074426

Time Magazine images from Hungry Planet:,29307,1626519,00.html 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to tell about some of the foods they eat that represent their cultural heritage (this may be everyday foods or traditional holiday foods). Have them propose what makes the food suited to the region of origin.

  2. Remind the group of the three factors that influence access to food and food choice: culture/personal tastes, local availability, and economic resources. Check for understanding by asking: “How does culture—who we are with, family, ethnicity—influence food choices? How does local access and availability influence food choices? How do economic resources influence food choices?”

  3. Just as the foods that each of us eat are different, access to food and food choices around the world vary as well. We’re going to compare and contrast what people around the world eat in a week, thinking about their cultures and local and economic resources.” Tell them these are just samples, and this is not what all people eat in these countries (to avoid developing stereotypes).

  4. Show the prepared chart with the five columns (see Materials) and ask for a volunteer to record information from the following presentation:​ (If internet is not available, show the pictures from the book Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio).

  5. As you look at pictures together, ask students to supply the information for the recorder to enter on the chart. Note: You may want to view all of the pictures one time through, then go through more slowly to record observations on the chart.

  6. After viewing the pictures, askstudents to draw conclusions from the information on the chart and to share their reflections. Ask:

    • How do culture, personal taste, economics, and availability affect food choices?
    • What are your feelings and attitudes about the differences? Do the foods look good? Do you think the foods are good/bad, or just unfamiliar?
    • How does your attitude about others’ food affect your openness to other cultures?
  7. Tell students that the pictures show a variety of diets from undernourished/subsistence (just enough to stay alive) to balanced (a diet that promotes health and energy) to overconsumption (a diet containing too much food and/or too high a content of fat, sugar, salt). Ask them to cite examples from the pictures viewed for undernourished/subsistence, balanced, and over-consumption diets.

  8. Tell the students that although there is enough food in the world, it is not distributed evenly. Ask students to reflect in writing on the following: What responsibility do we have for people, locally and globally, who do not have the food resources they need for a healthy diet? If we are responsible, how can we address the issue for the sake of the common good?

  9. Have students drop the text from their reflections into Wordle at to make "word clouds." Observe the different configurations to see what words show up most frequently. If Wordle is not available, have students highlight and share words from their reflections that are most important. Discuss the concepts that seem most important in all of their reflections.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.