The connection between rising food prices and political unrest, particularly in regards to the recent events in the Middle East, might be hard for the average American to understand. The chart above, though, presented by Natalie Jones on Civil Eats, demonstrates why spikes in food prices can have more of a palpable effect elsewhere than they do here: people in other countries in the world spend a much higher percentage of their budgets, per capita, on food than the less than seven percent we spend in the United States.
The graphic is a product of a partnership between Civil Eats and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism's course on food reporting. Here's Jones's explanation of the chart's implications: "An American can likely take the money that would have gone to a 'non-essential' item and put it towards food instead. But for an Indonesian, who devotes 43 percent of his/her spending to food, it could mean less to eat." It's well worth heading over to the full interactive graphic, which lets you roll over the countries and see the specifics.
The 6.9 percent of their budgets that Americans spend on food is one of the lowest globally according to the chart, and not just in comparison to developing countries. With the apparent exception of the UK, most countries in Europe spend more than 10 percent of their budgets on food and even the British, stereotypically not too picky with their meals, spend more percentage-wise than the United States on food. Only Ireland, with 7.2 percent of their per-capita spending going towards food comes close.