Tag Archives: Berlin

Aesthetically-challenged fruit & veg: Sustainability in your diet

15 Oct

The Austrians, the Swiss, the Dutch, the Brits, the Germans and quite a few others too are making a case for Edible Imperfection. The retailer REWE International has just launched its campaign “Wunderlinge” in Austria, starting with apples, carrots and potatoes that literally don’t make the grade. These local products are offered at a cheaper price and only as long as supply lasts.

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The Austrian campaign was inspired by their Swiss neighbours: retailer coop launched Ünique – a sales pitch for fruit and veg with character, created  by nature’s moods. They also held a competition in which citizens could upload photos of their funny fruit & varied veg.

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In the UK people sent in pics of their unusual veggies to the We Love Knobbly Veg gallery, part of the eponymous campaign run by the conservation charity National Trust and the magazine Delicious.

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Berlin artist and professional photographer Uli Westphal has provided us with astounding visuals of botanical anomalies in his project Mutatoes and the amazing array of tomato cultivars in Lycopersicum. I hope he continues with this work!

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And there is more in Berlin: Culinary Misfits – German catering duo Lea Brumsack and Tanja Krakowski call on us to Eat all of the Harvest! They are actively looking for organic farms to sell them not the good, not the bad, but definitely the ugly. Indeed, they are now supplying BioCompany, an organic supermarket chain, with vegetarian/vegan Misfit-Soups. Filmlet here and crowdfunding here.

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Dutch initiative Kromkommer came about as a result of a dumpster diving adventure. It’s a Dutch campaign for Krom Komkommers & More (Kinky (actually: bent, curved, crooked) Cucumbers). Join the Krommunity.

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Of course all of this has lots to do with current mega topic food waste. The price of consumer demand  – and trade grade legislation – for cosmetic perfection and uniformity is high, read up a bit e.g. here. Are you on a Stepford Diet? Do you hide ugly fruit and veg like Ashley Kinnad’s entry to the Design Bridge Student Competition (2012) in the pic below? Then take a Wonky Veg Pledge: vow to source non-conformist fruit & rebel vegetables for your diet, green up your shopping and show some love for the Despicable Me’s of the plant world.

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Berlin. Bureau for Working on Unsolvable Problems.

28 Apr

I had the honour of being invited to speak on Everyday Consumer Culture in Schools: Meal Systems a few days ago. The dialogue forum took place at The Bureau for Working on Unsolvable Problems, which opened in December 2011 in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood, just around the corner from the Prinzessinnengärten (Princesses Gardens), an urban agriculture setup. The Bureau is part of something I will translate as The Thinkery (in German: Die Denkerei), as in a place for thinking professionals to produce their thinking (you know, bakers produce their baked goods in a bakery, brewers produce their brews in a brewery).

Bazon Brock, emeritus Professor of Aesthetics and Cultural Education at the Bergische University in Wuppertal, Germany, together with a profundity of professors, i.a. Peter Sloterdijk, are collectively responsible. Lest you think it’s a dry-‘ol-stick-place of some dusty greybeards, here’s Brock’s idea: The Thinkery/Bureau is a place for public discussion of complex problems (e.g. the Euro-crisis, final disposal of nuclear waste, pretty much all of sustainability’s Big Questions) through dialogue with politics, business and civil society. Brock, somewhere described as the enfant terrible of the German art scene, puts forward that what people will have in common in the future is not some illusion of a cultural identity but rather the confrontation with unsolvable problems. So if you ever despair at the problems in this world, now you know where to go.