Food For Thought

Client: Design Academy Eindhoven, Master department, Gijs Bakker and Renny Ramakers (Droog Design)
Project: Research into new food conceptslanning: research & design studio 2003-2004
Design Mentors: Madje Vollaers (VollaersZwart), Birgitta de Vos and Ted Nooten.
Lectors: Jan Juffermans (Kleine Aarde), Gerda Cashimier (University of Wageningen), Sussanne Mosmans (Unilever Nederland BV), Henk Oostenbrink (Natudis BV), Jan Konings (Schie 2.0 Rotterdam), Floris Alkemade (Office for Metropolitan Architects)
Excursion Rotterdam, 'Shopping for food'
AH to go, Andijvie Organic grocery store, Ocean Paradise Oriental food, De Groene Passage, Australian Homemade Chocolate & Ice Bar, Zaal de Unie Culture & food.

Food is both a daily necessity and a primary source of pleasure for everyone. Grocery shopping, cooking, breakfast, lunch and dinner are the most important social moments of the day. Yet despite the wealth of products and the wide range of meals available to us, all is not well with our food.

Food production has become a global process over the last few decades. Almost every Western country has an intensive food industry. If the Netherlands did not export any food, its domestic food production would be able to feed the population four times over.

Tomatoes, cheese, pigs and chickens are transported throughout the world. The return flights bring us oranges from California and steak from Argentina. We can eat absolutely anything from any country at any time of year.These modern-day eating habits of ours consume vast amounts of natural resources and energy for production, transport and packaging. At the same time, our food is exposed to many forms of contamination as a result of the intensive production methods and the extensive transportation between processing and consumption. Over the past ten years, millions of animals and entire harvests have been destroyed due to the public health risk associated with the contamination to which they fell prey. But consumers demand their meals be quicker, faster and more convenient. The time we grant ourselves in the kitchen to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner has shrunk from 2.5 hours in the 1930's to 20 minutes at present but it looks to reach an estimated 8 minutes by 2010. Food technology capitalizes on the demand for shorter meal preparation times by tinkering with the basis of the ingredients and reassembling them in the form of new quick meals. Ultimately our food today has become entirely removed from its origins. How many children really know where their fish fingers come from?

Has today's global food industry reached its limits or will we be able to enter an age of even greater intensification? Will modified crops lead to completely new food and meal types and will it enable us to cope with the problems of contamination and food shortages? Or will the future be dominated by extensively produced food? Is such a solution economically justifiable? Can such food be produced more cheaply and is there enough room for extensive production in densely populated countries? Will today's supermarket customer be able to cope with finding a worm in his ecologically cultivated apple? And are we still capable of making soup from a vegetable as intimidating and gnarled as a pumpkin?