Table Going far beyond mere sustenance, food is both a source of pleasure and of suffering, it gives us enjoyment but can also arouse disgust, reflects both poverty and prosperity, promotes a feeling of community and strengthens interpersonal bonds. Our food culture however underwent some radical changes in the course of the 20th century. Society has become more mobile, and the daily schedule of three meals a day has largely disappeared. Instead of sharing meals, we consume our food on the go, alone, and at all hours of the day.
But even more than the rituals of eating, the question that preoccupies us today is: “How can I be sure to eat a healthy diet?” Good nutrition requires the kind of in-depth knowledge that most people have never acquired. Not only eating the right amount of food is vital but also maintaining a balanced diet. The problem is that even supposedly healthy food is subject to the latest trends, and our concept of what we should eat is therefore constantly changing. Nutrition is often associated with negative experiences: obesity and hunger, anorexia or other eating disorders, food scares or toxins in our food.
Food appeals to our senses. In particular our appetite and sense of taste are influenced and shaped by our cultural and social upbringing from an early age. Excessive consumption of industrially processed food has in the meantime had the effect of stunting our taste buds.
Culinary knowledge should therefore not be written off in our society as a matter of no importance but rather elevated to an integral part of our cultural education.
Louisa Zahareas, Screen Mutations, © photo: Femke Rijerman + Louisa Zahareas | Design Academy Eindhoven Femke Rijerman