NewsFeed recently learned we should be living in Australia.
Of the 17 populations included in a new global Oxfam survey, only the Aussies most commonly said chocolate was their favorite food. We’re disappointed in our fellow Americans, and the quarter of this reporter that’s English feels let down by the Brits, too (chocolate was only the #6 favorite food, and tied at that? Really, ye who brought us Cadbury?)
According to Oxfam’s food survey of more than 16,000 people, the world’s overall top three favorite eats are pasta, meat and rice. In the U.S., it’s pizza, steak, and chicken. Pakistan’s most-liked food? Vegetables.
Oxfam, of course, has a greater purpose than satisfying curiosity about the world’s culinary preferences. The poll results, which the group calls “both fascinating and alarming,” suggest that growing food prices have notably altered the way we eat.
More than half of the total number of people surveyed said they aren’t eating some of the same foods they were consuming two years ago; 39% attributed it to rising food prices, 33% to health reasons. While cost was the primary cause cited in most countries, it wasn’t across the board. In the U.S., for example, 49% said their dietary changes stemmed mainly from health concerns, not monetary ones (31%).
Some of the most disturbing figures in the study come from Kenya, where 76% said they are not eating some foods they were in 2009 — and for 79% of them, it’s because of high prices. On the other end of the spectrum, less than 40% of people in Germany and the Netherlands report eating differently than they did two years ago.
(PHOTOS: What the World Eats)
In both Kenya and Tanzania, less than 30% of respondents said they always have enough to eat; globally, it’s 61%. Hunger, though a much, much greater problem in the developing world, is not limited to those areas. All this while the UN tells us that 1.3 billion metric tons — or one-third of the total — of food produced in the world goes uneaten.
As for preferred comestibles: the report states, “The results of the question asking people to name their favourite food illustrates the degree to which Western diets – at least as an aspiration – have spread across the world.” If Western means American, then we’re in trouble. As TIME’s Bryan Walsh wrote in a 2009 cover story, Americans “already eat four times as much meat and dairy as the rest of the world, and there’s not a nutritionist on the planet who would argue that 24 oz. steaks and mounds of buttery mashed potatoes are what any person needs to stay alive.”