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Urban Foraging as a critique of the current economic model

Modern societies take many things for granted. Food, for example.A middle class person from a developed country will always assume that there will be food on his or her plate. That food will obviously come from the supermarket, because he/she will as well assume that supermarkets will always have food.

But what if someday supermarkets are empty? Or even more dystopian yet, what if someday supermarkets are full of delicious, healthy and perfectly packaged food that only the richest can afford?

WHAT IF QUESTIONS

Economic inequality, the exponential growth of the population, our disconnection from the source of our food and the rapid expansion of cities are issues that we are deeply concerned about. All these factors, could rapidly lead us to a future scenario that is scary as it looks ridiculous —though maybe we are not that far, after all.

It is already a fact that a higher wealth is linked with better food intakes and a healthier lifestyle. On the other hand, people living below the poverty line tend to consume cheaper foods, with a higher intake of processed food and lower in vitamins and nutrients. If this trend continues, the difference between a healthy few and an undernourished majority will exacerbate exponentially.

So what if inequality extended to a point where the vast majority of urban population didn’t have access to commodities such as supermarkets? What if the only source of food available was the one that grows within the city limits? For this speculative piece we asked ourselves how would it be like to source our own food from our urban surroundings, from the city we live in. In order to do so, we went all over Barcelona and picked whatever food we found there, to finally cook three dystopian recipes with those ingredients.

We also imagined how people would thrive in this future scenario and which kind of solutions they would find to do so. We came up with a series of Urban Foraging Guides by cities, a free resource for people with tips on how to locate certain ingredients, process raw materials or hunt the animals that populate the city.

It was a complex process of sourcing and researching. Not only ingredients had to be edible, but also cooked in a way that would make the most out of them and enhance its inherent properties and benefits. We discovered that acorns have to be leached in order to get rid of the tannins and that grounded carob seeds where used during scarcity times as a substitute for chocolate.

This critical proposal aims to motivate a change of mindset towards a more sustainable economy, both socially and environmentally. We conceived it to be striking enough to stir people’s consciences, but also open enough for them to come up to their own conclusions. What are the consequences of the uncontrolled urban development? Is our current food production system future-proof? And ultimately: for how long can we maintain this inefficient economic model?

CHECK OUT THE PROJECT