Photo Series Starkly Compares Meals of the Rich and Poor in Different Cultures


A meal in modern-day Syria. In the foreground, is a typical meal of president Bashar al-Assad, and in the background is a bottle of water, representative of the many Syrian citizens (and rebels), that are starving to death.

The richest one percent in America own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. But vast inequality between the very rich and very poor is nothing new, and certainly not unique to the United States, but it can be a difficult concept to visualize. Photographer Henry Hargreaves and food stylist Caitlin Levin’s photo series compares the typical meals of the rich and the poor throughout various times and cultures in history.

At one end of a simple wooden table, a feast is set out (representing the meal of the wealthy), and on the other end, a simple meal, or sometimes, just water (like in contemporary Syria) or nothing at all, represents the other end of the wealth spectrum. Even in America, the wealthy eat a hearty meal of meat, vegetables, bread, and salad, while the poor have to settle for a bowl of porridge, sliced bread, and a can of soda.

Photographer Henry Hargreaves explained to The Daily Meal that his concept began as a showcase of what dictators eat (for example, there are photos of Kim Jong Un’s meals, comparing it the average citizen’s meals in North Korea), but soon evolved into something more:

“We want people to literally and figuratively sit down and look across a table to see the glaring disparities between the “haves and have-nots,” said Hargreaves, who also created the famous yet controversial  last meal death row photo series. “The world has clearly changed tremendously in just a few short decades… today, some poor populations now face a greater threat from obesity than from starvation. But many throughout the world are still forced to survive on the most meager of meals, or nothing at all, while a powerful few languish in absurd culinary luxuries.”


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