The day after Thanksgiving when we think to ourselves, “Wow, I really ate too much,” seems apropos for considering how the rest of the world eats. This infographic shows the highest 20 and lowest 20 countries by calories consumed per person. Roll your cursor over a country’s number to see the calories per person and the percent of income paid for those calories. A good example to start with might be Israel (3540 calories per head and 17.9% of income) and the Palestinian Territories (2130 calories per head and 66.0% of income). The United States weighs in at 3770 calories per head and an average food cost 6.9% of income.
Source: Food Service Warehouse
Food Service Warehouse says “The calories consumed by country (per capita) data comes from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). The percent income spent on food comes from various household expenditure surveys (conducted independently by country by various research bodies) which are the most useful and reliable measure of this type of countrywide statistic.”
The infograhic is a snapshot; we have progressed over the last 200 and especially the last 35-50 years. “The daily food intake in developing countries has increased,” wrote Bjorn Lomborg in the Guardian (2001), “from 1,932 calories in 1961 – barely enough for survival – to 2,650 calories in 1998, and is expected to rise to 3,020 by 2030. Likewise, the proportion of people going hungry in these countries has dropped from 45% in 1949 to 18% today, and is expected to fall even further, to 12% in 2010 and 6% in 2030. Food, in other words, is becoming not scarcer but ever more abundant.”
The the United States Department of Agriculture assessed the state of world food security in 2007. Their report echos Lomborg’s words:
The rise in global per capita food consumption during the last few decades has been largely driven by rising consumption in developing countries. At the global level, per capita calorie consumption (all food available for consumption) increased by 17 percent from 1970 to 2005. Daily per capita calorie consumption in developed countries increased nearly 9 percent since 1970 to 3,418 in 2005. While consumption in developing countries was much lower than that in developed countries, 2,722 calories in 2005, it rose at a much faster rate during that 35-year period, more than 27 percent. (Food Security Assessment, 2007 GFA-19, Economic Research Service/USDA)
The world is not perfect, and 925 million people face malnutrition every day. Yet, we have made progress. Instead of more and hungrier people we (through the green revolution and other advancements) have forced the trend down. Let us give thanks.