The advantage of living in a world with so many different ways of doing things is that no assumptions go unchallenged. We need to pick a path and having nagging doubts about the forks in the road we didn't choose, we create stories that help us believe our way is the right way. Stories are awesome. Parallel stories keep us honest. Peter Menzel & Faith D'Aluisio tell a wonderful story in 'What I Eat' with photos from around the world of 80 Diets. I wrote in 'Triumverate of Yumminess' about a cunning diet that lets you eat whatever you want as long as you take a photo of it. We talk about pets and reflecting their owners personalities, it is amazing paging through this book how well it seems someone's story is told through a picture of what they put in their mouths.
I have some friends who are taking the story of what they put in their mouths quite seriously. They have started converting their garden into a pretty hardcore urban farm along with 5000 or so earthworms. One of my favourite movie scenes is from Sideways, where Maya explains to Miles why she loves wine. It is worth adding a little Maya to our own diets. She describes the story of the wine. She revels in it. By the time it reaches her lips she has already savoured each little characteristic that makes the wine what it is. Drinking the wine becomes a conversation with the entire life of the wine. It becomes a performance in which you participate. We have to eat and drink to stay alive, but clearly this level of enjoyment is more than about staying alive. It is about living. I think growing your own food has a similar appeal. To have dug the ground yourself. To have watched the food grow. To have a story to savour.
Beyond the romance, a book looking at the diets of people around the world also tells many other stories. They look at the age, height, weight and caloric intake of the various people and diets. From very simple diets that struggle to fill the gap to competitive eaters. Taking photos of what you eat is one thing. Placing those photos next to what others eat is food for thought.