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Instagram Spotlight: We Are What We Eat

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Left: A meal in Tajikistan. Right: Daryo Boi having a cup of salty yak milk tea in Afghanistan's Pamir Mountains.

Who wouldn’t love to explore the world through food? Over the past two years, National Geographic has been dedicated to sharing global stories on food with our readers. As part of the Food series, photographer Matthieu Paley got the dream assignment—traveling to observe indigenous cultures and documenting the way they eat. Paley went to Bolivia, Tanzania, Greenland, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Greece to explore ancient diets and the evolution of our meals. Not only did he take a closer look at the food people were eating, but Paley also got to show their daily lives and rituals.

Recently, Paley successfully funded a book, which will be called Man & Food – The Origins, on the French crowd-funding website Ulule. The book will combine his work from all of these vast and diverse locations while crafting a broader story on how our lives are shaped by food. Here, we share some beautiful snaps from Paley’s travels while on assignment for the Future of Food series.

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A girl swings on an apricot tree at the end of a valley in Tajikistan’s Gorno Badakhshan region.

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Evening in the Pamir mountains. Ayse Gul, a Kyrgyz girl, is closing the sheep pen with intertwined pieces of wood. Occasionally at night, wolves or a snow leopard might attack the family livestock.

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For five winter days, I walked and sometimes ran behind these two brothers: Shur Ali and Roz Ali. These caravan traders were returning home with their family yaks and I tagged along—for safety and camaraderie–coming down from the high-altitude plateau of the Pamir to the lower valleys of the Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan. On the horizon, the first sight of the Hindukush range, the stuff of dreams!

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A meal laid out in Tajikistan.

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Daryo Boi having a cup of salty yak milk tea in Afghanistan’s Pamir mountains.

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Hunting with the Hadza in Tanzania.

A photo posted by Matthieu Paley (@paleyphoto) on

A Pamir wedding is an explosion of colors, great music, excellent dancing and even party foam thrown into it. The groom just arrived at Hanisa’s wedding in Roshorv village, Tajikistan. Shot for GEO magazine.

Follow Matthieu Paley on Twitter and Instagram.


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