starting date 2017
You might laugh at a child that doesn’t know where milk comes from, but who has ever heard of the baking powder tree? Powder to the People is a research project on food additives by the EAT ART collective. The project investigates the role food additives could play in a pragmatopian industrial food system. We believe the debate on food technology needs to be a societal debate in the interest of humanity, instead of a corporate debate in the financial interests of shareholders only. A new definition of profit needs to include long-term health, resources and climate benefits for everyone. Citizens and producers need to talk to develop a future proof vision together, without the hysterics and the mistrust that rule the conversation at the moment.
Industrial food additives. You may have heard about them, but what are they exactly and what could they do for you? As we see it, there are plenty of ways that industrial food additives could be important in the future, even in the most utopian scenarios. Most media attention goes to the future of farming (and rightfully so), but we will not subsist on local fruit, algae and sprouts alone. If we look at the past, us humans haven been attracted to easy, fast, cheap and long-lasting. Just to give a great example of evolution, the sandwich was invented to eat with one hand whilst playing cards with the other. On a large scale, this is where the industry uses food additives to create products that meet this contradicting demands.
They could be used for much more interesting goals, like health and climate resilience. Or on a personal level, if you have specific demands on your diet and the products that fit your diet are expensive or had to come by, why not make your own? If you are a vegan, why not make your own plant-based meat substitutes? If you are intolerant to gluten, lactose and soy, why not make your own allergen-free bread? Future-proof food additives could help to make your food philosophy match your budget.
To understand industrial food additives in the kitchen, we need knowledge. Most consumers don’t have this knowledge, access or experience to single food additives, yet we eat them almost every day. Even some of the commercial foodstuff producers don’t know where exactly their additives come from or how they work, but they fulfil their technical function and that is enough for them. The additives they order come with instructions for the settings on their 10,000kg planetary mixer or 8,000L fermentation vat. In case of doubt, they call their distributor. Globalization and upscaling leave no space for small scale alternatives. Modern food is up for a revolution like distributed 3D software and printers are challenging the big plastic manufacturers.
Where to start? Practical instructions for home use of industrial food additives are nowhere to be found. The interest in molecular cooking in the beginning of this millennium has made some contributions, provided you are looking for a visual and gustatory magic show. It did little to bring us closer to understanding our daily groceries.
EAT ART collective thinks the best way to start is by doing. Powder to the People offers many different ways to get involved with the topic and we are working to develop more. Take a look at our