Kristen Taylor is a food pornographer. She asks us not to tell her mother… though she’s just told a very full room at Ars Electronica in Linz. She’s the instigator today of a “food hacking” contest, asking us to reshape our lunches, ala Fancy Fast Food. The best food hack posted today will win a catalog celebrating 30 years of Ars Electronica.
Her talk at our cloud symposium is titled “the secret life of foodpaths,” and looks at the idea – and problem – of food as a cloud. She offers two ideas as organizing principles. From Clay Shirky and Kevin Kelly, she reminds us that “the internet runs on love,” which is quite different from the lust in food she’s often trying to generate on her blog. She quotes an “urban homesteader”, who reminds us “food is the thing we do most.”
She asks us to consider the production of honey and ideas of locality. Beehives are travelling circuses – commercial beehives are brought from field to field, pollinating different crops. People are starting to become increasingly interested in honey, in part due to colony collapse disorder, but also because of interests in local food. She introduces us to the idea of “single-origin” products. A single-origin honey might be tupelo or avacado, named for the plant the bees primarily feed on. Kristen tells us that the health benefits of honey are better for honey produced geographically close to you. Unfortunately, beekeeping is illegal in Brooklyn, but it’s an open secret that people are putting beehives on urban rooftops.
A second buzzword she examines is “source verified food”. The termshows our distrust of food labels and the difficulty of really knowing where things are from on a local level. For people who really want to know where their food is coming from, you can explore the fallen fruit of Sherman Oaks, California – a map of fruit trees shows urban explorers where they can pick up fruits that fall to the ground.
Kristen ends her talk with an exploration of the food truck movement in NYC. A dozen or so trucks roam New York neighborhoods and sell a variety of fascinating foods. These trucks use Twitter to document their location, and often ask followers for help in figuring out where to park. You can see dialogs between trucks – an exchange between schnitzeltruck and biggayicecream, a custom ice cream truck, in Brooklyn. It’s a community, with trucks looking out for each other, raising their stature and perhaps providing protection. “When I think of my urban food map, the movements of these trucks is what I’m thinking about.”