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What the world eats.

Posted by barnmom (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 30, 12 at 20:33

I think this is an interesting group of images.

"What do you and your family eat each week? You may be shocked to see the significant variation even between relatively ‘similar’ nations when it comes to diet. While many families within the United States and Mexico include fast food and soda into the core of their nutritional program, families from nations like Bhutan survive off of traditional base food items like vegetables and grains. It is easy to see why disease rates are skyrocketing in many developed countries, where nutrition is not held to a very high regard."

Eileen

Here is a link that might be useful: Families and the foods they prefer.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What the world eats.

I saw a similar story several years ago (I think it had more nations) and at the time found it interesting how many processed and junk foods have taken over all but the most primitive countries diets.

We're a cross between the Canada and Chad families. We practice home food storage so that puts us in a whole different category from the normal Standard American Diet. The bulk of the foods we use are called the "Seven Survival Foods" - grains, legumes, seeds for sprouting, salt, sweetener/s, oil (coconut oil for us) and powdered milk. I have about 30 different varieties of grains/seeds/beans to choose from. On my $125.00 per month food budget, I'm getting really good at knowing my "bottom dollar" foods, which tend to be whole foods and nutritionally-dense foods, and it doesn't include much in the way of pop/soda, junk foods and highly processed foods. I think we are better off nutritionally and health wise for making those choices.

-Grainlady


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RE: What the world eats.

This is a favorite topic of mine. I have long thought that the 20th century American/ Western diet has nothing to do with nutrition. Humans did not evolve eating a well-balanced diet. Until the mid 20th century we ate what was available locally and seasonally, plus what we could preserve and dry without chemicals.

Obesity is just another form of malnutrition, like rickets or scurvy, and just as life altering. Don't get me wrong, I love to eat and cook. But what I cook is a far cry from the diet of humankind before the mid 20th century, or from most of the rest of the current world. We are pretty unique.


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RE: What the world eats.

Very interesting article. It is always fascinating to look into other people's eating habits.

However, I am not sure how "scientific" this article represents the real eating habits of different nations and cultures.

I know for a fact, that what were shown for a typical Chinese and a Japanese family can not be true. In general they eat a huge amount of fresh fish, leafy vegetables, and very little packaged foods. Go to an Asian store and you will see what are being sold and bought. A typical Chinese family eats bread and Baguette?

I cannot believe a typical Mexican family eats so little meat.

What? No one drinks wine?

What? No one eats chickens?

dcarch


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RE: What the world eats.

These are individual families with their own particular likes and dislikes though the text does make some general statements about each country. All families are different. I know I grew up eating certain things and not others at home and always found new things to try at friends' homes. There were never bottles of alcohol or sodas in my house as a child. I never buy sodas now. A Red Bull might find a way into my basket once in a great while but that's about it. I have a fondness for Orangina soda but the sugar and the cost keep it out of my cart.

If you look closely you will see a lot of fish in the photo of the Japanese family. The Mexican family lists chicken as a favorite food. It's hard to see what's on the back table. I think I see cheese and coils of sausage. There is wine in the Great Britain family photo. Why wouldn't a Chinese family eat a baguette? I eat wonton wrappers. :)

What surprises me is the amount of sodas in the photos in general except the family in Chad. And the fact that so much of the food comes in printed packaging.

My personal shopping and eating habits have changed with living alone. I eat simply. I cook minimally and eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables. A few eggs and bit of dairy but not much. I have stopped buying meat unless I have a guest. I buy very few processed foods (all that salt shocks me!) and I avoid the frozen aisle almost completely. I do have an occasional sweet and I buy wine. Processed foods are an occasional guilty pleasure - a small bag of chips or a favorite cookie.

E


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RE: What the world eats.

I do not think the families chosen are typical either - the article only shows what these particular families eat, although the family from Chad might be typical of their country. If you chose a family from San Francisco or West L.A., you would get a very different set of groceries from the NC family. I know from shopping here that the frozen aisle has the least traffic while the fresh vegetable and fruit aisles are always busy.

I have already been to a nutritionist, and she confirmed that my diet is appropriate as it already is, but my exercise level has dropped below what is acceptable. For me, getting more exercise is the issue.

Last night we watched a Michael Palin Himalaya show in which he travels from Bhutan to Bangaladesh - we missed the part where he gets to Bhutan. It was amazing how much difference there was between the two countries that are not that far apart in miles. They did show his meals, but I don't remember what he ate, except that in Bhutan they used chilies a lot for flavor, and in Bangaladesh, they ate a lot of seafood, once they got to the ocean.

From the anthropology books that I have been reading lately, it appears that hunter gatherers were healthier than the early farmers and that agriculture caused quite a few problems by creating an unbalanced diet. Also, they indicate that farming takes more energy than hunting and gathering, providing there are things to hunt and gather. Hunters and gatherers had longer life spans, were taller, and had stronger bones. Maybe they got better exercise!

Lars


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RE: What the world eats.

I think the images might be from the 2005 Hungry Planet book. I do look at it and wonder if that can really be typical, or chosen to make a point about how badly Americans eat. I thought cornmeal was ubiquitous in South/Central America, but I didn't see any. From looking at the book preview on Amazon, it looks like there's a lot more info about what they found on their trips. I think it would be an interesting read.


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RE: What the world eats.

I agree with Sherrmann. Malnutrition has always plaqued the world, including the U.S. I am just finishing an 83-lecture course from The Learning Company on U.S. History. The professor discussed at length difficulties during WWI & WWII in recruiting/drafting enough young men to meet war needs due to malnutrition. For WWII, due to the problems during WWI, standards were reduced...5'1" minimum height, 105 lbs., must have 1/2 of your natural teeth, no scurvey, etc. - very minimal standards. Still, 30% could not qualify. Granted, the depression had some health consequences but it's obvious that most Americans were not consuming a 'healthy' balanced diet.

I think there's a tendency to romaticize how & what Grandma cooked. Just because a meal is home cooked does not make it healthy or balanced. Americans' diets were carb loaded (rice/grits in the south & potatoes in the north). Prior to the rapid industrial growth of the 1920 boom years life was hard work & people expended more calories just getting life's necessary chores done. They were thinner but not necessarily healthier. Even into the post WWII 1950s most Americans were not eating what's considered a balanced diet by today's standards.

Because it's on the "suggested reading" list I'm re-reading "Babbitt". His diet is discussed quite frequently. He knows "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" yet he gorges himself on high fat foods. There's also a couple lines that read..."...there's little for a young wife to do since most meals are ordered from the local deli, breads, & the requisite sweets come from the bakery." Mr. Babbitt and his wife dined out a couple times a week & George went to the club for his daily lunches. Of course, George Babbitt lived in Zenith, a mid-western town of approximately 200,000-300,000 people. In other words, he's representative of his times. Those living on rural farms were already in the minority. Babbitt was published in 1922. Grandma wasn't doing much cooking. Grandma wasn't even making homemade ice cream for a treat in Zenith. She was buying it from her local bakery & having it delivered packed in ice.

Our collective memories are not always indicative of what the country as a whole was experiencing. Diet is a good example. Sorta like eye-witness testimony - frequently wrong.

dcarch, I've got some close Japanese friends in the Denver area. They certainly eat baguettes. Their diet is as Americanized as mine. Their family was part of America's WWII Japanese embarrasement spending several years in camps in Colorado.

/tricia


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RE: What the world eats.

"---dcarch, I've got some close Japanese friends in the Denver area. They certainly eat baguettes. Their diet is as Americanized as mine. ----"

Tricia, I also have Korean friends who cook and eat soul food here in the US.

The vegetables shown for the Chinese family in China happen to be the not so popular vegetables to the general Chinese cooking. They don't often use cauliflower, tomatoes, celery, hot-house cucumbers and carrots. Even here in NYC, you will not find bread and baguettes in a Chinese store.

Based on the photo, which supposedly represents a typical week's food for a typical family in that country, you will think the Mexican family is vegetarian. They may say "The family lists their favorite food items as pizza, pasta, and chicken."; Well, my favorite food is BBQ spareribs, but I eat them may be twice a year.

I have to say, the black families in the US, not just North Carolina, have very unhealthy eating habits, and it is killing them.

A very interesting link. Makes you think.

dcarch


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RE: What the world eats.

Families of all colors in the US have very unhealthy eating habits, but it's certainly true that it's related to socioeconomic status, and we have a long way to go before we achieve equality.


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RE: What the world eats.

In the past 5 months or so, my husband and I have changed our eating habits drastically from eating fast food many times a week to eating all but 2 meals a week at home and making better choices. He's lost 40 pounds, I've lost 20 lbs. And...we do not spend as much on food. It's actually been cheaper for us to eat better.


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RE: What the world eats.

evenshade, it's kind of surprising how much food you can get if you forgo the fast food and prepared convenience stuff, isn't it? I was astounded the last time I took the kids to McDonald's and it was $9, but even more when I bought one single meal for my stepmother at KFC and it was also $9. You can tell I don't eat fast food much, or I wouldn't have been surprised, I suppose.

I just stopped at Horrock's on the way home from Elery's. I spent $59 there. $11 of that was on 2 bottles of wine for Elery, on sale. $4 was for two bottles of Summer Shandy to go with fajitas for supper. That leaves $44 for food, and for that $44 I got:

4 mangoes
4 avocados
2 pears
3 lbs onions
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch celery
6 sweet potatoes
4 ears sweet corn
1 small bitter melon (I've never had it and it was 44 cents!)
15 ounce container of freshly ground cashew butter
2 lbs cheddar cheese curds
1 package whole wheat tortillas
1 head green cabbage
1 head cauliflower
2 lbs. jalapenos
5 lbs. red potatoes
3 large red peppers
1 large green pepper
2 lbs dried cannellini beans
5 small zucchini
1 cucumber
1 pkg romaine lettuce

For the same money I could have gotten two average sized pizzas, or 4 meals at KFC.

I think I'll keep on cooking.....

So, it appears that my regular diet which consists of a lot of vegetables, a bit of fruit and smaller amounts of protein than most are accustomed to, is somewhat unusual for Americans. I do profess a weakness, though, for Diet Coke and coffee.

What surprised me is how little the diets changed in developed nations, whether they be Hispanic or Oriental or Middle Eastern or European or whatever.

Annie


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Oops...

I forgot, I also got a pound of purple Michigan asparagus. Anyone know why purple asparagus was $1.19 a pound and green asparagus was $1.99 a pound, and they were both from Michigan?

I'm sure I don't know, so I bought the purple stuff.

Annie


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RE: What the world eats.

I think purple asparagus might have been deemed "odd"....but had it been properly marketed it would have been exotic!

Tricia I think you misunderstood your history professor. Audie Murphy enlisted and was turned down....but later was drafted. he was 5'5"...my uncle was just under 5'6"....and was turned down for the Navy. So, he went home and stayed in bed for 2 days and went to the recruiter....and this time he was slightly over 5'6" and served proudly as a Naval officer.

It was in 1940 that many draftees were rejected because of poor nutrition. This was the result of conditions during the Great Depression. It wasn't that they were ignorant of nutrition, but they just plainly didn't have enough food of any kind.
True later in the war....nearing the end, manpower was strained to the max, due to fighting a war on 2 fronts, keeping the "war machine" going in the factories and farms producing food.....as well as maintaining a segregated armed forces.

My take on the families and their food, is not that they are necessarily "typical" because one family could not possibly represent typical anything....but rather that they were simply examples.

Yep...pre prepared food, even if it's "fresh" is very expensive. I am thinking of the chicken breasts sold at my grocery...already marinated, and the packages of "stew" ready to pop into a chock pot and heaven forbid....those salads in a bag....complete with dressing in a bag and croutons in another bag....and all with a chemical taste!
Think I'll have some free range organic wine and head to bed!!


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RE: What the world eats.

RE what the world eats......there was a program on tv not long ago (sorry don't remember details) but the gist of it was that KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, and some other fast food places are now in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. The program focused on how the menus are a bit different to appeal to the local population. And they are doing extremely well in those countries. My thoughts on the matter is no matter how healthy the Asian diets have been in the past, give them a few years of high fat, high sodium, and the questionable nutrient content of all fast food and they will have the same illnesses this country faces....heart disease, diabetes, cancers, obesity, etc.
I quit fast foods a long time ago and have no regrets except the memory of all I used to eat. Good Grief! Ignorance is my only explanation.
I now garden, severely limit fats, sugars, chemicals, etc. and am almost a vegetarian...meats just don't appeal to me,
and I eat very little of it.
Just my two cents worth....


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RE: What the world eats.

I wrote about this on my blog back in 2008, with a list of grocery purchases. It was interesting even to me to go back and look the list over. Since then my DH and I have decided to purchase only locally raised meat, we re growing even more of our own veggies, and we do most of our veggie shopping at the local winter farmer's market during the winter.

What is astonishing to me is the food inequality I see every day. Even in Maine where truly inexpensive farmstands abound, and food stamps can be used at farmer's markets, fewer and fewer people cook fresh food, or even frozen veggies. With people stitching incomes together from multiple low wage jobs I don't see an increase of home cooking on our horizon, either. It troubles me that the current focus on obesity completely overlooks this element.

Here is a link that might be useful: Henbogle


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RE: What the world eats.

I think a lot of it can also be attributed to people being so busy and tired these days. It's a cycle - poor nutrition leads to depleted energy, and low energy leads to poor nutrition choices.

I do it myself. I often work 12 hour days and when I'm starving and cranky the last thing I want to do is wash, chop and cook vegetables so I pick something up on the way home. Usually it's a somewhat healthy choice but I'm only feeding myself so spending $10 on take out isn't as big a deal as it would be for 6 people.

One thing I have noticed is that a lot (not all) of people who love to cook and cook from scratch usually don't work outside the home full time. They are usually retired or work part time or are a stay at home mom/spouse with older kids. I sometimes wonder if there is a correlation there because I see it myself in meal prioritization between a busy work day and a weekend where I'll happy spend 3 hours preparing dinner whereas after a long work day, 20 minutes of meal prep is WAY too long!


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RE: What the world eats.

chi, I agree that many working parents don't cook, after having worked all day, come home to laundry, housework, kids and homework, school activites, you name it. Sometimes they are simply overwhelemed and can't seem to think about a nutritious meal.

I always cooked, because I like to cook and because fast food was too expensive to eat regularly, even when I worked two jobs.

I do know that people get tired, but especially when you have children, that's the time to let the housework go and cook a nutritious meal instead of feeding the kids pizza or chicken nuggets and fries and settling in for an evening of whatever reality show is popular now. Those dust bunnies under the couch won't ruin their health or their teeth like junk food will.

It did help that I didn't have television for a long time, and I don't now, that's a real time sucker.

And it doesn't explain my pet peeve, which is that our children drink far too many soft drinks. At least 75% of the children under 10 that I know drink soft drinks with their meals. Not milk or juice or, heaven forbid, water. It's Mountain Dew and Coke and Orange Crush. When the heck did that happen?

Oh, and my corn on the cob cooked in the microwave in 3 minutes and my steak fajitas (I did buy the tortillas) came together in 8 or 9 minutes, so in about 10 minutes I had steak fajitas and corn on the cob. That's less time than I sometimes sit in the drive through waiting for a glass of iced tea and includes the time it took to slice an onion, a red pepper and the sirloin and husk the corn. Plus here, like many rural areas, there is a local Subway, but any other fast food is a minimum of 15 miles away. And no, there's no pizza or chinese available for delivery, LOL. Still people don't cook, they'll drive 30 miles round trip to pick up a pizza instead which is not an efficient use of time, to say the least.

I know a lot of people say it takes so much time to prep fresh vegetables, but I can peel and slice an onion, or wash and slice a couple of carrots or celery stalks in a few minutes, so I don't get that. My sister, though, wouldn't do it, she said fresh vegetables were "too much work". She never had a job either, she always used food stamps. I guess a job was too much work too.

Annie


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RE: What the world eats.

You were one of the exceptions I was talking about, Annie. :) I don't know how you do so much.

It's not that making a salad takes a long time or a lot of effort - it doesn't. I just don't want to do it sometimes, and that's just me being lazy/tired after work and I realize I should get better about that. I don't even have kids yet though I think if I were responsible for someone else's nutrition I'd be a little more responsible. For instance, my cats get $5 a day premium cat food, lol.

Plus I'm spoiled in that I have a huge amount of vegetarian and vegan take out options in Southern California that are on my way home. It's nice to have options but at the same time, it makes it way too convenient to stop by.

And I agree with you on the soda. It makes me cringe seeing kids drinking it. I had soda maybe once a month growing up and it was a special occasion type of thing. I remember a childhood friend who always had soda in her house and I thought that was amazing and she was the luckiest person in the world but now it's all too common.


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RE: What the world eats.

My ex finally connected the dots between his high sodium prepared and frozen food diet with trips to the ER because he is so full of fluid he can't breathe. The last trip was scarier than usual I think. He has begun to cook for himself and has found that not only does he like his own cooking it something of a creative endeavor as well. And he eats better on less money.

Nothing he makes is elaborate and I have shared some simple cooking methods that work for him. He can't stand for long periods to do food prep. He steams, he sears, he sautes, he boils, he uses the crockpot.

There are a lot of pre-prepped fresh veggies in the produce department now and that helps. I took him a selection of herbs and spices with notes taped to them.

As for me, I live alone now and rarely actually COOK anything elaborate unless I have a guest, then it's fun. But I never eat frozen foods, canned food, fast food or take out. It happens but very rarely. I will happily make a meal of lightly steamed asparagus with fresh ground pepper, a bit of sea salt and a little drizzle of lemon infused olive oil. Or a breakfast of one avocado with some seasonings. I eat fresh simple salads, some pasta, whole grains. Little meat. Fresh fruit. But there are also times when I just grab a chunk of whole grain bread and decide that's dinner because I'd rather not bother with more. :)

But I remember the days of being a youngish mom to two small children and having a fulltime job. Though I was a fairly knowledgable cook I relied on a lot of convenience foods to make a meal happen at the end of day as quickly as possible. If I didn't get a meal on the table within a half hour of all of us walking in the door, everyone woud hit the crackers and cookies. Sigh. And the years of sports, gymnastics practice, ballet classes didn't help. The window of Burger King got more use than my kitchen. We all survived. Both of my kids like all foods and eat a good selection of fresh fruits and veggies and even cook for themselves. I know that their father's health issues around his poor diet have had an impact on their choices. Alice is practically paranoid about salt.


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RE: What the world eats.

Obviously, I'm retired and we eat meals out (usually lunch) focusing on good, local restaurants rather than fast food.

At the end of June we will be on the road for about 2 weeks. I haven't been away from home for that long in a very long time. Think decades. Usually start whining at 5 days and ready to come home. I told hubs that what I will miss the most is home-cooked meals. We've agreed that fast food won't be on the menu except occasionally at breakfast. I do like McDonald's egg mcmuffins and that's the only thing I like there. So we will eat those. On the other hand we will be stopping often on the way home to visit Civil War battlefields, a botanical garden, the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe for exercise. Side note: Living in Denver I derided the "flatlanders". Now I am one and will suffer in Santa Fe at 7,000 ft. Our last house in Denver as at 6,000 ft. Will stay 2 nights in Santa Fe--it's a foodie town and we both love green chili for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That's a treat for us. We will also have an ice chest with storage for fruit, veggies, and other types of food we normally eat.

I'm looking forward to it, but dreading it. Don't like to travel, but going to the Southwest--I've traveled most of this route before being married 38 yr. ago.

We don't drink sodas. Limited coffee. Some wine. Lots of water. Thank heavens for a good ice chest!


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RE: What the world eats.

Now that I'm retired I cook quite differently than when I worked and was gone 11-12 hrs/day. I actually cook less - I happen to enjoy going out and live in an area where it's actually cheaper to go out than cook, and you can still eat healthily or not, as you prefer.

But when I do cook, I can now take more time doing it. I enjoy cooking, but having run a house since I was 12, I'm over the idea of doing 7 dinners/wk.

We eat out a lot. Very seldom fast food, mostly mid- and high-end restaurants. Since we don't drink alcohol, it's cheaper for us than for most folks. We just came back from another multi-day trip through the Napa Valley (our second this year) where we had some excellent French food, and a stunning lamb burger with curried pickled onions and spicy aioli - yum!

Could I have made that burger myself? Of course I could. The point is, though, I WOULDN'T have. I wouldn't make (for DH and me) just two brioche sesame buns, purchased just enough top-quality US lamb for two burgers with no leftovers wanted, mixed up a tiny amount of spicy aioli, and had the foresight three days ago to use one-eighth of an onion to make curry pickles.

I don't mind leftovers, but even we get tired of eating something three days in a row. I use my separate upright freezer a lot. But there are many things that simply don't freeze well.

My MIL lives with us and unfortunately, she doesn't care for many of the things we love, so I have to plan sometimes to make different dinners for her and us. Really, it makes it so much simpler to just go out and let her pick whatever she wants. She's a major carb loader, whereas I'm mildly allergic to most grains. I can eat them, but I don't want to do it every day and I can't do it for every meal. I start to have trouble breathing, from asthma.

BTW, the Chinese I know would rather eat meat than fish any day, and that includes my in-laws. And they are major, big-time "snackers", whether it's the salty/sour Asian snacks or the salty/fatty American snacks.

Interestingly, my DH's cousins (Boomer generation) are not as big on the French bread-with-lots-of-butter as their parents are. They are bigger on soda and McDonald's, in comparison. DH used to drink 4 liters of Coke every day - took me a while to get him off that crap.

To our friends/family, shellfish rank higher in favor than fish. And the more income they have, the more they spend on meat. But if the older generation really loves you? They roast you a whole chicken to take home, when you visit.

My DH's family made it very clear where he stood in the family ranks on the first Xmas we spent together. We spent 13 hours visiting every relative in town...and every single household had roasted an extra chicken just for him to take home!


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RE: What the world eats.

It does surprise me what my friends eat and everyone seems to think is great food. BBq (pork on a white bun) is very popular here along with the usual sides: coleslaw, baked beans, chips, sweet tea, etc. and that has to be one of my least favorite popular meals.

We don't eat out much because it is so much healthier to eat at home and usually we prefer it but once in a while, we go to an Asian buffet in town that is very good.
Yesterday it was crowded but my favorite part is the made to order hibachi grill food but dh and I were the only ones that I could tell in the hour we were there, who used it.

Lots of fresh vegetables, raw shrimp, beef and chicken, various noodles that you choose and then it is cooked on the grill in front of you.


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