The LOCI Food Lab (“Bite-sized Bioregionalism”) is a traveling food stand for prototyping, serving and debating a range of bioregional food futures in different cities around the world. Visitors to the lab identify the attributes of the food system that are important to them, and are served a customized snack, created for them from our menu of possible ingredients.
In collaboration with Heather Julius we developed a final menu for Portland, Oregon (Cascadia) which contained a selection of old, new and unusual ingredients that were sourced from around the bioregion and would all taste good when combined in different configurations.
The way it works:
Visitors to the stand use a 1-hole punch to mark their preferred attributes on a menu card. These choices are translated into a selection of 9 possible ingredients that form a customized snack. While serving this snack, we have a conversation about their preferences, ideals and the flavor of the snack we served them.
We ran an initial beta version at First Thursday in September. After receiving feedback from visitors, and directed critiques from a group of our peers (Carl Diehl, Ariana Jacob, Mack McFarland) we refined the LOCI concept and menu, with particularly vital feedback and iteration through our work with Heather Julius. Happy with the developments, we took the LOCI Food Lab to three locations in three days:
– Last Thursday at Alberta Street Fair
– Fourth Friday at the Portland Art Museum
– Saturday Hollywood Farmer’s Market
At these 3 events, we recorded the food system preferences of 225 people, and served many more. (Some visitors chose their preferences in pairs or groups, and were served the same dish).
The three locations were fairly similar in terms of preference and ordering, but there were some subtle differences:
The work has been supported by a RACC grant, and is currently en route to Scotland, where we will be conducting the next LOCI food lab at Scottish Parliament on November 25, 2014 as part of Nil By Mouth: Food, Farming, Science and Sustainability.