Initial research and where it’s led…

I love a good mind map to get the brain thinking about a topic, also the workshop Marianne ran after the briefing was helpful when being introduced to the project – a more active version of a mind map.

Initial Food Mind Map
Initial Food Mind Map

I began by researching two food issues that stood out for me, milk price cuts and the fetishisation of food. Mainly reading news articles, blog posts (see reading list and orange folder) as well as making my own observations.

Milk price cuts have recently received quite a lot of media attention, although I have been aware of how little to no profit farmers are able to make from the production of milk for several years, since GCSE Geography. In the past few months farmers have been staging protests outside supermarket depots, campaigning for more sustainable milk prices. Farmers claim that they are loosing as much as 25% of their revenue with the latest lot of price cuts.

Price Breakdown of Milk                   (2012)
Price Breakdown (2012)

Supermarkets use low milk prices to get customers through their doors because they have the financial stability to swallow the loses. My position on the issue is that we should be supporting our local producers, especially of such necessary products like milk.

Screenshots of Instagram Posts
Screenshots of Instagram Posts

My research into the fetishisation of food focused mainly on how often it’s picked to be the subject of an Instagram post, there are many ‘hashtags’ that are food related – #FoodInTheCity is even a popular tag. There is a clear format to these ‘Foodsatgrams’. They imply that only food ordered in fancy restaurants, in small outrageously arranged portions, or cupcakes where the ratio is heavily biased to the icing and bowls of yogurt and granola topped with a whole rainbow of fruits laid out with the most precise geometry is the only kind of food worth showing off. What happened to the satisfaction of being able to go to the shop pick up some ingredients and turn it into a home cooked meal? Who cares if its a bit burnt round the edges.

Social media is the most recent culprit in changing our perception of food, from a necessity to a commodity, fuelling the craze of #FoodPorn. Food magazines and celebrity chefs – Nigella Lawson being the main offender – have been doing it for years, but there is a lot more conscious action taken by the observer when it comes to reading a food magazine or tuning into a cookery programme. Now technology is everywhere, especially in the city – we are encouraged to check-in to our local cafe’s and restaurants –  and this opens us up to a feeling the need to show off how healthy our food is or how ‘naughty’ we’re being. Meals are picked specifically from the menu for their Instagram-ability and pre-determined filters are well known to make certain foods look mouth-wateringly good.

I presented both these issues at the first crit for VisLit Task Two – surprisingly to me the milk topic caught the most attention. It seemed to be something there was very little awareness on as no one in the crit had any idea about price cuts or how little farmers make. Having confidence in the idea, I began thinking about how I could use milk as a medium, freezing it perhaps – using food colouring to dye it different colours to present how much money went to each part of the supply chain. I continued researching until my tutorial.

Tutorial with Sharon
Tutorial Notes

This lead to me doing further research on the subject, I then found out that this year there had been a global glut in milk and dairy production which seemed to be have had extra effects on milk prices. I was struggling to get clear information on the case due to what had been happen on a world scale and also finding that it was an issue that reached a bit further than “the City”. My research unfortunately wasn’t giving me confidence in my ability or the direction in which to tackle either the Milk Price issue or food fetishisation issue. This wasn’t help by the fact that for  CoP2 I was working on a video against social media and technology addiction and the use of technology in changing view of food to a commodity is key – I felt that this would lead to an overlap in work produced and I was keen too keep the modules separate.

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