Monday, October 20, 2014

3 Surprises (Out of Millions) About What the World Eats

For a fresh view of the world and its food, swipe and click through a new interactive graphic.

Butchers prepare cuts of pork at a wholesale market in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have pared their growth projections for China this year to 7.4 percent, below the government's 7.5 percent goal disclosed at the March conference at which Li Keqiang became premier. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

Butchers prepare cuts of pork at a wholesale market in Shanghai, China. 

Looking for a way to celebrate World Food Day quietly, without leaving your desk and without busting your diet? Of course you are. Do you think great data, artfully presented, can be as stirring as great poetry?

Then check out What the World Eats, the interactive tour de force our graphics team has just put up on the National Geographic food hub.

It's a look at what and how much the world, and 22 countries in particular, have eaten every year from 1961 through 2011. But it's not a half-century-high stack of Excel spreadsheets. It's more like Angry Birds for data nerds. I just dived into it for an overly long while. Here are a few pearls I surfaced with.

The Chinese already eat more meat than Americans.

Measured in calories, that is. Americans still consume more meat by weight, around 13.5 ounces (381 grams) to nine ounces (254 grams) for the Chinese. But the Chinese eat more meat calories. The reason: They eat more pork than we do—and it's extremely fatty pork. They like it that way.

As China has developed over the past century, its consumption has soared. Beef consumption has been growing lately, but not very fast—it's only around half an ounce per capita per day. The Chinese get two-thirds of their meat calories not just from pork, but specifically from pork fat. (You have to dive a little further into the FAO's vaults for that tidbit.)

For the rest of the story:

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