Our consumption choices have myriad influences on the environment, but nowhere are these choices more profound that in our decisions of what to eat. Food miles, agricultural practices, embodied water, packaging, contamination and species extinction are a few threads of a complex web, often weaved from outdated cultural practices. Many artists are challenging our food culture, drawing links to ecologies, unearthing forgotten wisdom and canon-balling us into the future, in confronting, humourous and often delicious ways.
The Centre for Genomic Gastronomy brings us this playful pubic performance around the serious issue of heavy air pollution in Indian cities. By whipping up egg foams in different busy street corners of Bangalore and making them into cookies, one could literally test and taste for different pollutants. As the artists Zack Denfield and Cat Kramer (of CGG) put it “The tragedy of the commons never tasted so good!”. They are also at pains to point out that eating these toxins is no more harmful than breathing them, something city residents do all the time without thinking. Like a Trojan horse these ‘smog cookies’ brought new attention to a mostly invisible issue.
American artist Fritz Haeg is leading a project which aims to encourage families and other housing groups to replace the ubiquitous front lawn with edible front gardens. Each garden responds to its specific location and conditions, with a view to promoting ‘a more productive use of the land between our homes and the street, and a closer relationship with neighbours, our food, and the natural environment.’ While most of the prototype gardens are in the United States,Edible Estates are cropping up (pardon the pun) in parts of Europe as well, however, the artist considers it a global project and the website is full of information on how we can all nurture our own food bowl.