Food: Bigger than the Plate – Review

I,Science were invited to the V&A this week to get a taste of the exhibition: FOOD: Bigger than the Plate.

Now in it’s final week, the interactive exhibition looks to explore how our relationship with food is changing, taking visitors on a sensory journey through the food cycle, from production to table.

The exhibition has been split into four sections: Compost, Farming, Trading and Eating. Each of these sections focuses on different issues that our food industry is facing (such as sustainability, worker’s rights and climate change) and celebrates projects and initiatives which are working to improve these. Among my favourites were Daily Dump, an initiative in India, which is looking to change the way that people regard food waste, by creating beautiful terracotta pots for home composting and GroCycle’s Urban Mushroom Farm, a live installation in the gallery which using waste coffee grounds from the museum’s café and using these to grow oyster mushrooms, which are in turn used as ingredients in the café.

Fruit Mapping

Another local initiative is Fallen Fruit, a group of artists hoping to create new ways for people to interact with the city and each other by planting and mapping fruit trees in public spaces in London (including several in South Kensington).  

Having explored the ways in which the food industry is already changing, the exhibition turns to the future of food with LOCI food lab, which will create a tailormade canapé for you to sample based on your answers to what you think is most important for the future of food.

Co-curators of the exhibition, Catherine Flood and May Rosenthal Sloan, wanted to address not only what will we be eating tomorrow, but also the type of food future that people want: “Putting food at the heart of the museum, this exhibition is an exciting opportunity to bring together some of the best of this work to explore food as rich ground for citizenship, subversion and celebration.”

Celebrity Cheeses

Perhaps the most bizarre and thought-provoking projects in the collection is Selfmade, where a team of researchers at Open Cell in West London took bacteria from five celebrity donors (including chef Heston Blumenthal, baker and food writer Ruby Tandoh and musicians Alex James, Suggs and Professor Green), and cultivated it into cheese. They displayed these cheeses with the hope of challenging society’s squeamishness around bacteria. Heston Blumenthal Armpit Comté anyone?

FOOD: Bigger than the Plate is on at the Victoria and Albert Museum until 20 October 2019. Advance tickets are £13 for students, £17 for general entry. FOOD is sponsored by BaxterStorey.

S Reid-Collins is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London

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