If you honestly felt the true value of food, would you waste it?
If you would train all your senses to be able to articulate the fine subtleties of flavour, texture and scent. Would you feel more satiated and less prone to overeat?
If you not only understand but really feel the connection between food-eater and excreter, would you eat to nourish the soil?
I took him close to me. It felt warm and with a strong energy. He was breathing heavily. I opened my bra and my breasts fell out. My bare skin felt a bit cold at first but, as he opened his mouth to eagerly grasp the nipple and started sucking immediately, I felt the milk stream through my body and pour into his mouth. I was feeding him and for a moment we were one again.
In this western world the word FOOD started having a whole new connotation since the last 10 to 15 years. Would the word have triggered mostly appetite in the past, now food has become a snake pit of a discourse on sustainability, ethics, identity, heath and politics. Though taste is still the dominant factor for choosing food in daily life, food, in a sense has lost its innocence. As the biggest economic driver globally, the biggest user of fuel, the largest impactor on biodiversity and fresh water, it makes sense that the world is starting to see the mechanisms behind what they eat. Behind what they put in their mouth daily. In their bodies.
As far as food goes, I think it is important that we start to understand the influence the large scale impact food production has on the world but that we do not lose sight on what food actually is. A substance that we put into our living bodies.
Perhaps it is because of our efficient culture where economic value is prevailing or it’s because it’s always easier to reach outside of ourselves that we focus on finding solutions for the issues in a very linear and narrow way.
Yes, it is extremely valuable to fight food waste. It is fantastic to clean up the ocean and perhaps genetic modification and in vitro meat will save us from starving in the future.
Ann-Christin Bertrand Curator of C/O Berlin
I invited Marije to develop a performance for the exhibition ‘Food for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography’ that I curated for C/O Berlin. Working with her was a great pleasure, always smooth and positive, with great creative energy. The ‘Food Massage Salon’ that Marije developed was just such a great complement to the exhibition! A full success with fully booked time slots and visitors that left happy and moved in same time.
Still, I wonder, if we are only humans that need to be fed. Eating mindlessly. Then what are we really? Caterpillars, eating our way through life?
Our bodies are more than food absorbing systems. Our bodies are badass machines equipped with a rich set of senses all over. Still we hardly use those tools. Our efficiency focus does not include rich, sensorial experiences, since, how are they measured for value?
If you focus on intensifying food production to make sure everybody will be fed in 2030, are you also thinking about what people will eat? There are many foods that we do not even touch. Think of lichen, think of weeds. Wouldn’t it be helpful to focus on cultural development next to technical development to make people develop from mindlessly eating caterpillars into sensible intelligent eaters that have acquired a different mindset about food?
If you actually, honestly feel the true value of food. Would you waste it? If you would train all your senses to be able to articulate the fine subtleties of flavour, texture and scent. Would you feel more satiated and less prone to overeat? If you not only understand but really feel the connection between food-eater and excreter, would you eat to nourish the soil?
I think, culturally, we have grown more aware of food in the past decade and yet we are disconnected. #Foodporn gave us an avalanche of instagram food focus which, more than ever before made people into ‘foodies’. And while instagram worked as a catalyst for food focus it also works as a catalyst for visual domination.
Visual domination started impacting our lives even before instagram. When food got packaged to be sold in supermarkets instead of markets we stopped touching and smelling the food to know if it was fresh or ripe. We started trusting our eyes for information, looking at colour or shape and beyond that, the information on labels, trusting our ratio over anything else.
When our world started digitalising our senses started getting neglected one by one except for our visual sense.
Right now, many of us move trough life as walking brains with eyes, what we touch is lifeless and what we see is digital.
Here is food.
We cannot avoid it.
About 3 times a day people engage with actual living matter and place it in very intimate parts of their bodies. They engage all their senses into this act of eating.
The smell, the sound, the texture, the taste and also all the emotional aspects of food. The memories, preferences and social act of eating together is a moment in a day where humans get connected to the living, flowering, decaying 3 dimensional world where all senses are activated.
If we start to see this immense power of food beyond the fact that it fuels our bodies, we can imagine that there is much more to discover in a sensorial way than how we experience food at this point in time. Can we explore it and see the potential as a gateway for us to engage with our natural living world. The world we are inevitably a part of until we step over to digital versions of ourselves. Do we start to understand our selves differently if we sensitive our senses? Do we engage with life differently if we start to articulate our sensorial experiences?
Yes, when we eat we engage our senses but we also limit them. Food on a plate is rather far away from our nose. Can we actually smell all the subtle varieties of scent molecules that get emitted by the food? If we eat with cutlery we ignore all the senses in our hands. Have you ever looked at how you hold a spoon or knife? You are making a fist. All your sensitive nerve ends are hidden inside your hand.
When you put food in your mouth with a fork or chopsticks you open your mouth and without touching the lips the food gets placed on your tongue.
We are ignoring all the super sensitive nerve ends in our lips. Our lips are so sensitive, we can feel if there are one or two hairs on our lips. Something our fingertips cannot do.
I don’t think we are consciously depriving ourselves from touching ourselves but I do think it is a missed opportunity. Touch deprivation, or so called ‘touch hunger’ is an actual condition that can occur from lack of touch and it can have serious negative effects causing anger, anxiety, depression and even early death. Humans are built to touch and be touched.
For me, the link between food and touch is one that mixes two pleasures but not only for entertainment. A precise and gentle education of our sensorial system can enable us to create a culture that has a better understanding of quality, of body connection and of food appreciation.
Isn’t it awkward that we tend to mostly link touch to sex as if that’s the only thing we can think of doing with our bodies. It wouldn’t be much of a problem is sex wasn’t such a taboo but by framing touch as a sexual act we limit the possibilities for exploration of our sensorial system of ourselves and others. By connecting the act of eating with touching we use two of the most primal acts of life to shift perspective on some of the most simple things we generally not think about.
Before or while we work on developing systems for a more sustainable food world I think it might be useful to focus on ourselves and our physical connection to food to others and to life. Using our senses to understand and actively appreciate ourselves and the world around us. What are all these senses on and in our bodies doing there? What if we start using them to not only understand, but actually feel the amazing beauty and abundance of food? What if we can start to articulate our sensorial experiences and appreciation for food? What if this would shift our mentality from a state of empty consumption into rich meaningful and sensuous encounters with food. And with others. I think it would be the start of a new cultural level where the appreciation of food already eliminates many food issues we are facing today. What if this was very simple and just required using the body we were born with and using the simple value of trust between us and other human beings?