Bell Museum exhibit showcases what the world eats

The opening reception at the Bell museum marked the start of new a Thursday night program.

Steve Willis and Georgia Rubenstein eat snacks from around the World at the new Hungry Planet exhibit at the Bell Museum on Thursday.

Jason Kopp

Steve Willis and Georgia Rubenstein eat snacks from around the World at the new Hungry Planet exhibit at the Bell Museum on Thursday.

by Katie Wieglos

What does the world eat? The Bell Museum of Natural History shed some light on that question as people of all ages gathered for the opening of the âÄúHungry Planet: What the World Eats,âÄù exhibit Thursday night. The opening reception included an international snack tasting with everything from classic American potato chips to fish flavored crackers from Thailand. Children at the event also eagerly âÄúshoppedâÄù for food in the interactive market, a feature of the exhibit that allows visitors to pick out different global food items and learn more about them at research tables. Inspired by the book âÄúHungry Planet: What the World Eats,âÄù by Peter Menzel and Faith DâÄôAlusio , the exhibit features series of photographs revolving around 10 families from various countries, Bell Museum public collections manager Jennifer Menken said. The photos revolve around how different cultures grow, prepare and eat food. The 6 foot by 4 foot photos of the different families and cultures are one of the exhibitâÄôs most compelling elements, Menken said. âÄúThe families are just incredibly engaging. People are just pulled into those photos,âÄù she said. There are also special sections of the exhibit focusing on agriculture, fast food culture and eating meat. University of Minnesota senior and womenâÄôs studies major Hanna Mosca visits the Bell Museum often for films, but the âÄúHungry PlanetâÄù opening was the first exhibit she has seen there. Mosca said she attended the exhibit because of her interest in local foods. âÄúI think itâÄôs incredible to see the amounts of food that people eat, the amounts of money they spend and all the different types of food,âÄù she said. The opening reception marked the beginning of new food-themed programming that will take place every Thursday night during the exhibitâÄôs run through May 9, 2010. The food-related events will cover a wide variety of concepts and include speaker sessions, films and expert guided tours, Bell Museum Director of Media and Public Relations Nina Shepherd said. The Thursday night events will be free with museum admission. The added programming is a way to cover specific subjects that couldnâÄôt be included in the actual exhibit, Menken said. âÄúFood is a huge topic,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs kind of like picking water or air.âÄù Menken said the overall goal of the exhibit is âÄúto get people to stop and think about their food.âÄù She added that the display allows people to see the differences as well as the many similarities between the U.S. and other countries. âÄúHow much our food is the same across the world is an interesting thing to look at,âÄù she said.