Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Got a cutting-edge food-related project?

September 18, 2006

A busy street kitchen next to the Hanuman Temple (Connaught Place, New Delhi) is doing booming business.
A Delhi street kitchen doing booming business

The deadline for the DOORS OF PERCEPTION 9 conference on “JUICE” (FOOD, FUEL, DESIGN) has been extended until September 30, 2006. If you think your project should be included in this event, please put your nose to the grindstone forthwith. Any questions, contact me via the comment below and I’ll get back to you within a day or two.

Doors of Perception 9 takes place in New Delhi 28 February to 4 March 2006. The theme is “Juice: Food, Fuel, Design”. Doors 9 begins with a two-day Project Leaders Round Table that is limited to 50 participants. This is followed by an open-to-all one day conference at India Habitat Centre, plus a Social Technologies Bazaar, on Saturday 3 March.

For the Project Leaders Round Table, we are looking for sixteen participants whose project raises interesting design issues in relation to:
• Food information systems (food miles, energy use, GMOs);
• Localisation of food systems (Community Supported Agriculture);
• Urban farming (rooftop, vertical…);
• Sustainable packaging and distribution;
• Slow food using high tech;
• New forms of community cooking (meal assembly centres);
• Agritourism;
• Street food.

Your project proposals will be reviewed by: Aditya Dev Sood, Centre for Knowledge Societies; Debra Solomon,; Juha Huuskonen, PixelAche; Amy Franseschini, futurefarmers; John Thackara, Doors of Perception. Send us an email in answer to these six questions:

1. Why? = the main question asked by the project
2. Who are the actors/partners?
3. Where? (the locality or situaton)
4. What are the desired outcomes/results of the project?
5. When (timeframe)?
6. How can the Project Leaders Round Table help? What problem, challenge or dilemma does the project face, that the assembled experts can help you with?

Send your project description email (Subject header: “juice project”) to:

A one-day conference on Saturday 3 March, in the India Habitat Centre, will address the key issues to do with food, fuel and design. The results of the Round Table will be presented. And a social technologies bazaar will provide participants with a show-and-tell opportunity. Conference participants are invited to the Doors Holi Party the following day.

bhang ice cream ready for the holi celebrations
Bhang ice cream ready for Holi

Doors has teamed up with the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Designs of the time (Dott07) to offer travel-included scholarships to Doors 9. The scholarships are for up to eight winning teams in the 2006-2007 RSA Design Directions competition. Dott 07 has set two themes – on food information systems, and sustainable tourism. All you have to do is win. Details at:

For those not eligible to compete in Design Directions, we can offer a limited number of all-in packages comprising flight, registration, accomodation and food for the whole Doors 9 week, for 1,000 euros. To be eligible for this package, we must receive your project proposal by Friday 29 September (which is when our cheap flights expire).

The original Doors 9 call for participation is here.

debra at 15:23 | Comments (0) | post to

Food causes gas, and by gas, I mean greenhouse gas

September 7, 2006

Greenhouse gas emissions linked to the production of a kg (roughly 2 pounds) of food. Meat refers to the “carcass equivalent”, with bones but without processing, packaging, or transportation. Source IFEN 2004 for France

Jean-Marc Jancovici, whose website on climate change with readable, chartful and well-documented articles, estimates that roughly one-third of carbon emissions are a result of just simply getting the grits on the table. Although Jancovici has thoughtfully translated his French texts into English, one has to read them with a French accent to get through the Franglais. But chapeau to the man who does his math and collates all this research into easy to understand facts. Check it, below!

Now check out what happens when one farms organically. Source IFEN 2004 for France

debra at 6:53 | Comments (0) | post to

The issue of financial gain with regard to an allotment

September 5, 2006

My neighbour Sidi ElGouche is smokin’ again.

Yesterday my dear colleague (from the Dott07 CityFarming project) posed the very good question of how much one could earn from one’s kitchen garden. Apparently he had read two disparate studies and the numbers varied ten-fold as to what a garden allotment yields in terms of produce. As per usual, my answer was blunt and wordy:

From my UNSCIENTIFIC, culiblogish research into the matter (in the form of having an allotment for 2 years), I can say that in pure economic terms, these will be the most expensive tomatoes and lettuces I will ever eat. I can buy 3 head of lettuce at the organic farmer’s market for 1 euro.

Why is my allotment produce so expensive? Because time is money, honey. In order to have an allotment, I have to reorder my life, and in a rather extreme way. My kitchen garden is one big black hole of very expensive time.

But the amount of pleasure I get from my garden, even when I am away from it, is UNSPEAKABLY LARGE. What does that mean financially for my physical and mental health, aside from free access to the potentially healthy veg? What about the relationships that I have to build up to be part of an allotment group? What are those worth? These relationships nourish me and improve my quality of life. In my unique situation, they offer me access to a diverse culture. My garden gives me a place in the community and some people know me and like me simply because I have a garden. Suddenly I’m a nice person.

To get to my garden I ride my bike down a country lane with astounding views and watermills and clear views of all the town’s farms. My heart is racing because of the sheer physical beauty. I am smiling. I see what the farmers are growing. I see the geese that Monsieur Caizergue just bought to raise for an Xmas slaughter. I have something to talk about with everyone along the road. Hell, the garden was the reason that I was invited to a dazzling Berber wedding last April!

And the garden keeps me a bit physically fit.
And the garden yields some vegetables, soft fruit and some flowers.
Big whoop.

If someone were to say to me, ‘Here’s £3.000,- (or £300,- for that matter) of high-quality free veg, flowers, herbs and soft fruit spread out over the course of a year,’ I’d accept, but I don’t see that as being the only benefit of having a garden. To cite financial gain as a potential benefit specifically or separately from a multitude of other factors is to not truly address what a garden allotment really is. Or what a garden allotment can do to you.

If you want:
- warm relationships with a new set of inspiring friends

- a positive sense of who makes up your community

- more conviviality in your life

- knowledge about the flora and fauna in your environment

- a grasp of your area’s weather

- a role in increasing bio-diversity in your region

- a taste of yer own dang terroir

- expertise in the art of preparing traditional foods from your turf

- a connection with the history of your small corner of the world in cultural as well as geologic terms

- a sense of accomplishment for growing your own food

- a role in decreasing pollution and your area’s reliance on petrol products

- a regular supply of endorphin

- £ 300,- (or £ 3.000,-) worth of fresh veg, fruit and flowers in season

- the smug feeling of self-righteousness

- an excellent ass

Get an allotment.

debra at 15:41 | Comments (0) | post to

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