“The reasons for the proliferation of food movements and food media during the last decade are numerous. Perhaps more importantly, environmental groups have publicized scientific findings that industrial agriculture is a major contributor to climate change at the same time that the volatility in rice, wheat and corn prices have highlighted a troubling paradox of the modern food system: despite tremendous gains int he productivity of agriculture, nearly one billion people are hungry.
The 2012 exhibition Edible: A Taste of Things to Come illustrates another paradox of the modern food system, one that inspires this book: the richness of cultural responses to the system’s perceived failings. Organized by the playful art collective known as the Center for Genomic Gastronomy, the exhibition assembled artists, activists, cooks, scientists and hobbyists to imagine possible futures of food. With installations like “Disaster Pharming” and “Vegan Ortolan,” the exhibition showcased the outer reachers of molecular gastronomy and agricultural genetics alongside more familiar “countercuiisines” such as vegetarianism and raw food. In position these futures, the exhibition was highly critical of the status quo.
The Edible catalog concludes with two infographics: one showing disinvestments in small farmers and increases in obesity rates and another charting the decline of agricultural diversity under the industrialized food regime (in which wheat, rice, milk, potatoes, sugar and corn have displaced the thousands of edible plats long cultivated around the world). Paired with this lament about the present however, is a celebration of the culinary cosmopolitanism that the present affords. De-centering the United States, and indeed the nation state, as the locus of food power, the Edible curators suggest that the global circulation of foodstuffs and food cultures allows the individual eater to act as a world citizen.”