In the installation, we reconstructed iconic meals using the nutrition label as a recipe, plating out piles of the big three macronutrients: shortening for fats, sugar for carbohydrates, and protein powder for protein. While technically edible, this representation of nutrition emphasizes how little real information about the properties of the food is found in these labels. The label is an abstraction: a measurement of food outside of the body that doesn’t take into consideration how our bodies use the food.
For many people the nutrition label impacts their decisions around food and nutrition. Our thoughts about food and health should not begin and end with the labeling of our food. We hope to start conversation around food labeling and quantification with this installation.
The tent was divided up into two sections – one with a display case with dishes we made and the other with a public table where visitors made their own dishes. In the display case, protein, fats and carbs were plated in quantities matching nutrition labels for dishes from local food establishments. On the public table, visitors had access to printed nutrition labels for common foods. They were invited to use the label as a recipe – making a dish by reaching into tubs of shortening, sugar and protein powder, measuring out quantities and plating them.
The installation was produced on July 12th 2014 with support from Lafayette’s Center for Community Engagement and help from Matt McGranaghan and Angela Albrecht.