Bigger than the Plate

The Foodies Group departed from its normal meeting of sharing food and recipes last month at the host’s house and met for lunch and a visit to the exhibition ‘Bigger than the Plate’ at the V&A.


The exhibition unwrapped the global food chain, from composting, through farming to eating and challenged us to think about where our food comes from and if we can eat more sustainably, ethically & deliciously.


Starting with composting we were shown a wide range of items made from composted material, including colourful spectacles, leather-like material made from pineapple, fabrics made from orange juice waste, cups made from coffee waste, mushrooms growing in coffee grains.

Urban Mushroom Farm © GroCycl

The effects of the global food trade have had a profound effect on farmers so the range of corn grown is now dominated by the yellow corn we all take for granted but the farmers used to produce a range of coloured corn and then grew the next crop from their own seed. Now they must buy the seed. Similarly, the range of chickens has been reduced and we now eat the variety that won a competition in 1948.


Totomoxtle table (detail), made from husks of heritage Mexican corn, Fernando Laposse

In the Eating Section we were shown plates and cups to help patients with Alzheimers, teapots and Brexit mugs. Then we were invited to a Food Lab to sample food from a Great Food System. This involved selecting the 3 traits we thought should be in the system. I chose Affordability, Zero Waste and Nutritious and was given a tiny sample of:


  • Wild Spead (Foraged English mushrooms & wild herbs)

  • Revitalised Relish (Tomatoes too 'ugly' for local restaurants & supermarkets)

  • Fried PTA-2686 (Vat-grown mycoprotein derived from a mould discovered in the soil of Marlow)

  • Warming Waters Fish Dust (Dried & powdered anchovy)

  • No-soil, no-sun microgreens (Indian Salad Mix hydroponically grown underground in Clapham)


We were all pleased we had eaten lunch before the exhibition and left the exhibition with the need to eat less meat, and eat more organic, locally sourced food in the future.


Bigger than the Plate is open until Sunday 20th October. More details can be found on the V&A website at https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/food-bigger-than-the-plate.


Guest blog by Elizabeth, Foodies Group.




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