Embassy of Food
The DIFD presents design visions on an invisible edible world at the Dutch Design Week.
At the Embassy of Food you can experience something you can’t see: microbes. Microbes are everywhere and influence our lives to a far greater extent than we thought until recently. Our gut flora and what you eat not only influence our physical health, but also our emotional well-being, our behaviour and even our taste. Will we soon be treating Alzheimer’s and depression with diets? And what can designers do with such knowledge?
“This year, the Embassy of Food is focusing on the invisible components in our food,” says eating designer and programme curator Marije Vogelzang. “Which is why I want to call the Embassy the Micro Embassy, also to indicate that this year the Embassy is quite a bit smaller than last year. The programme is definitely not less interesting, though. We focus on food and design in relation to micro-organisms. We investigate what designers can do with all the knowledge about the role of micro-organisms in our digestive tract, in the soil and for agriculture. We increasingly realize, for instance, the importance of bacteria and fungi in the soil for our lives and that it therefore can be important to grow your own food. We will offer visitors to the embassy a wide range of ways to experience the role micro-organisms play in our lives.”
Two kilos of bacteria
Every individual human being carries around some two kilos of bacteria, without which you would not be able to survive. Nevertheless, we’re taught from a very young age to combat bacteria. You’re told to wash your hands to stop these wondrous, invisible pathogens from harming you. In the west in particular, bacteria are primarily associated with disease and we battle against them using chloride, disinfectants and pasteurisation.
We’re only slowly beginning to understand that there are also many good bacteria. There have been many new scientific insights from the field of microbiology in recent years. Gut bacteria in particular are attracting attention. Now that evidence is mounting showing that your microbiome (the bacteria in your intestines) not only influences your physical health but also your emotional well-being and your behaviour, a completely new world has opened up. It raises the question: Are we actually being ruled by the bacteria we carry within us? And what can designers do with all this?