F is for Food

| May 4, 2014

During the class in which we broke into groups to devise a socially-engaged art project, my group sought to address the issue of “food deserts” (urban areas in which healthy, fresh food is a rarity) through such ideas as community gardens, healthy cooking classes, and even subversive actions like turning one of those juice cleanse places into a McDonald’s, or vice versa. The brainstorming session got me thinking about all the loaded implications of something as fundamental and simple as the food we eat. Food can be, any or all of the following:

* A socio-political topic–poverty levels and degrees of education tying into health and food availability, sustainability and environmentalism, social justice, etc.

*A point of gathering, community, and connection–consider how many social events are focused around cooking or eating, or feature it so prominently (Thanksgiving dinners, potlucks, brunch dates with friends)

*An emotionally-laced issue–“comfort food,” emotional eating, personal positive or negative associations with certain foods or food-related experiences, eating disorders

*Another means of self-determination or self-definition–identifying as vegan or vegetarian, eating gluten-free or paleo ; expressing one’s culture through cuisine or dietary practices (Kosher, Halal, etc); the attempt to better oneself physically by dieting or just eating more healthfully (whatever “healthfully” means to you); a vehicle for self-care or self-punishment depending on how one employs it

*A multi-faceted somatic experience, engaging all your senses as well as the physical feelings of hunger and fullness; a reconnection with our inherent corporeality

The ways in which we approach this simple yet profound element of our physical existence can speak volumes about our personal and cultural values, and how we operate in the material world. It’s an endlessly fascinating topic.