BLOG Archive for September, 2013

Atomic Zoo: Radiation Bred Animals?

September 28, 2013

The Center is continuing its research on mutation breeding that we began back in 2010. In November we will install a triptych installation at the San Jose Museum of Art which will display the past present and future of radiation breeding. 

Most of our research has centered on the history of radiation breeding in plants. There is an enormous set of records in the IAEA’s Mutation Variety Database. Many of these “useful mutants” are commonplace in human food systems all over the planet.

In comparison we have found relatively less information about radiation-bred animals. While we have not completed an exhaustive literature review, we have not run into any documented radiation breeding / animal husbandry programs in the U.S. or elsewhere.

 However, while conducting this radiation breeding research we ran into this curious film documented in the Prelinger archive:


The Magic of the Atom: The Atomic Zoo
Produced by Leo H. Handel with the technical assistance of the U.S. Automic Energy Commision and the Atomic Energy Project at UCLA

The first line of the film is “Peace time atomic energy has found its way into the Animal Kingdom.”

 Two of the questions posed in the video “relating to our daily living” are 

“How does food, containing radioactive material, effect animals?” and  “What effect, if any, has an atomic processing plant on the vegetation and livestock in its area?”

The narrator goes on to explain that: “The overall atomic biological research program includes both plant and animal work and it is hoped that it will result in major gains toward understanding plant and animal life processes and soil-plant relationships, which combined, give you improved agricultural production.”


Chapter 1: Experimenting with Sheep

“Scientists at AEC’s (Atomic Energy Commission) Hanford Works are gathering vital information to safeguard the important lamb and wool indsutry in that area. Since waste products, such as radioactive iodine from chimney stacks of atomic plants often settle on soils and vegetation eaten by sheep, it is important to know, the exact effect this has on them.”


“Sheep are feed food pellets containing varying amounts of radioactive iodine…..the offspring of the sheep will also be studied for several generations to determine the physical changes that may have been caused by the effect of radiation on the first group of sheep.”

One wonders if the AEC scientist were keeping their eyes out for “interesting” phenotypical variation in the lab subjects for the purposes of breeding. Noting and back breeding mutants is what mutation breeding in plants is all about. However, there are ethical and (one would guess) morphological / developmental differences in exposing plants and animals to radiation for the purposes of creating “variation”. Were any of the genetic lines of the later generations of sheep retained? If anyone knows of any historical radiation breeding experiments on animals we would love to be informed. Please email us. 

Yum…….radioactive sheep blood being transferred through the use of  a MOUTH PIPETTE! 

Chapter 2: Egg Formation

“This hen is receiving a feeding of radioactive calcium and phosphorous….”

“These experiments are aimed at gathering vital data about eggs, universal food products. Perhaps the knowledge may lead to better methods of feeding hens, so that some day we have a bigger production of more nutritious eggs.”


“Such fascinating research is attracting more and more young scientists and technicians into the atomic energy field.”


Chapter 3: Radioactive Fish 


“At Hanford a small fraction of the Columbia River water is pumped through the giant Plutonium producing reactors to carry off heat generated by the production processes. This activity makes the minerals in the water slightly radioactive.”

“After being stored in retention basins long enough for most of the radioactivity to dissipate, the water is dumped back into the river. What effect do the remaining radioactive materials have on the river and its plant, animal and fish life?”

“From this and many more tests the effect of radioactive material upon fish and aquatic plant life will be determined for the benefit of all mankind, through the magic of the atom.”


Lisbon Dinner Menus

September 24, 2013

Recipes for Disaster Lisbon, 1755.

A turning point in history. Earthquake, tsunami and fire. Out of the wreckage, a new way of seeing and being in the world emerged. Our contemporary disasters are harder to see because they are complex, diffuse and effect humans indirectly. Overfishing. Colony collapse disorder. The clean water crisis. Climate change. There is a sense that a catastrophe is heading our way. Doomers, preppers and hoarders the world over are stocking their cabinets with preserved food and hunkering down. This set of dishes tells the story of disasters new and old. However, it is not all doom and gloom with disasters. During times of crisis the world is turned on its head. We are forced to invent new social and environmental relationships. Enjoy the journey because the destination is not predetermined. 


Slow Expectations

After a century of speed are we ready for a radical slowing down? If we keep accelerating, humankind will either go extinct or reach escape velocity: uploading our brains to computers, or leaving this planet all together. For those of us still attached to our bodies and the planet, now is the time to pause. Can we choose to slow down on our own terms, or must this be enforced by austerity measures imposed from above? Can we slow down our global food network to reconnect with food that is fair, local and delicious or must we cope with unrelenting speed of global capitalism? There are forgotten flavours and complex methods that are worth retaining, even if they cost more and are inefficient. This menu will serve food that is the result of the most inefficient processes of growing, preparation and consumption of food. We invite you to turn off your mobile phone. Take a little longer than you think might be necessary to savour each of these dishes.


Decadence for All

Should truly decadent experiences only remain within reach of the privileged few? Is universal access to hedonism a goal worth fighting for? The Modernist agenda paved the way for optimization and standardization, strategies that have consequences when applied to food systems at a planetary scale. We share the Modernist aspiration for social equity, but we propose that desire and pleasure are also universal needs. This menu presents many views on decadence and indulgence, the pertinence of their universal access and the hidden consequences that might arise from their implementation. Is it more opulent to consume meat daily or to eat it less frequently making each rare occasion truly sumptuous? There are many varieties of decadence: this menu emphasizes the close, the slow and the social. We invite you to loosen your belt, get your hands dirty and express your pleasure in public. Feel free to close your eyes, lick your fingers and define decadence for yourself.



The Real And Other Fictions

As part of 2013‘s Lisbon Architecture Triennale‘s exhibit The Real and Other Fictions The Center for Genomic Gastronomy has transformed the dining hall at the Palace de Pombal into a 3-month pop up restaurant called the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club. Each dinner includes a 6-course menu drawn from one of three themes: Recipes for Disaster, Slow Expectations and Decadence for All. A bespoke mirrored table reflects the ornate ceiling of the palace, and diners are served recipes that are designed to be eaten directly with their hands, no cutlery is needed. 

Here are a few images from the opening week:

Plating for journalists




Photo Credit: Catarina Botelho Photo Credit: Catarina Botelho






You can book dinners here through November. Be warned…you’ll have to click through a few screens, and then pick your date on the calendar.

Join the Genomic Generation

September 7, 2013

Industrial Ag. Trade Magazines: One of the stranger corners of the Genomic Gastronomy library……

“Would you rather be purchasing semen on elite sires like 1HO08784 FREDDIE and 1HO02565 CASSINO now?”Cows

 “Use Calf Math to help define your semen usage strategy.”


Day 1 of Test Kitchen in Portugal

September 6, 2013

 Close, Closer, the Lisbon Arch. Triennale is almost here.


Our bespoke table has been built and delivered. 



We are having a lot of un collaborating with culinary students from all over Portugal. Here, Heather is helping manage the test kitchen in Estoril.



We are experimenting with some new recipes like the Cuttle-Fish-Ink Meringue (above).


November 18, 2021 - December 12, 2021
Grafill, risography exhibition, Oslo, NO
October 24 - November 21, 2019
ClimATE, Aalto University, Espoo, FI.
March 1, 2018
Climate Fiction PT
October 21 - 29, 2017
Dutch Design Week: Embassy of Food
October 19 - 21, 2017
Experiencing Food (Lisbon)
Nov. 5 - Apr. 2, 2016
2116: Forecast of the Next Century
Nov. 5th, 2016
KiKK Festival Workshop