Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Food, Culture, and Monoculture

Food security and the threat of monoculture have been on my mind since watching an old episode of The West Wing last night. I'm also thinking about the food-related art and craft I've been seeing lately. Tracking all this food stuff would make a good blog. Is anyone already doing this?

I've been reading about how genetically modified (or "transgenic" if you're trying to sell it) high-yield seeds and chemical fertilizers can be great for improving conditions in poor, drought-prone regions of the world. But can't these seeds also present problems, like wiping out native strains of crops and costing a lot more to purchase, making farmers more money-dependent? (Sometimes the seeds are designed to be used only once, and the resulting crops are seedless, so farmers must always buy new seeds.) I need to learn more about all this...

As if reading my mind, Worldchanging.com has a piece today by Alex Steffen offering links to the dozens of articles on food that they've published. He writes, "How can we fill our plates without eating up our future?" Worth spending some time with this if you're interested.

Swinging from monoculture to visual culture, at the Armory Show and SCOPE this week, I noticed a good handful of food-themed work. Not much about seeds or growth, but plenty about consumption and rot. Veggie men sculpted from real and fake vegetables popped up in a couple of places. I can't find images, but they recall those old Giuseppe Arcimboldo paintings like "Summer" shown above. There was also a withered and molding apple core under a plexi vitrine.

Years ago at Art Basel Miami I saw work from a project by Japanese artist Makoto Aida called "Edible Artificial Girls." He imagines a future when naturally grown food is so scarce that scientists have to invent artificial foods.
The scientists even make pain-free "girls" that can be eaten like sushi. The feminist in me parches at this whole notion, but another side of me loves it.

Craft Magazine's blog has shown some fun examples of food-themed craft lately, too.
Here we have some knitted food by "pezdiva" who also made the knitted breakfast at the top.

And here some felted wool fruit by Brookelynn Morris.

I'm not up for starting a new food-themed blog, but if you know of any good ones, please post a comment about it!

Now it's definitely time for lunch... I could go for some rigatoni in this delicious-sounding bolognese posted on the blog Not Martha today.
Jae and I have been on a serious meat-sauce-and-pasta kick this winter, but we haven't ventured to make our own yet. Been mostly relying on Frank's and John's, our two fave Italian eateries in Manhattan. (Frank's has a killer veggie salad, too.) I don't think either of them are very organics-focused, which is another reason for us to cook up our own... (Photo sourced here.)

P.S. Speaking earlier of Worldchanging, to read my most recent posting on an event with Al Gore and Jeffrey Sachs at Columbia last week, click here.

1 comment:

Lora said...

As far as the genetically modified seeds go, the people making them are between a rock and a hard place, and you pointed out why.

1) The new seeds grow really well, making them more likely to survive in their new environment than native plants.

2) This makes them more likely to replace native plants unless,

3) The plants grown do not produce seeds.

So what do they do? If they let the plants produce seeds, then the new plants WILL take over the native environment. If they make the plants not produce seeds, then the poor people the plants were designed to help will constantly have to buy more. So you can either screw the environment or screw the poor.