Economic inequality, the exponential growth of population, our disconnection from the source of our food and the rapid expansion of cities will only get worse. So what if these issues extended to a point where 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 went deep into de city of Barcelona, looking for sources of protein, fibre or vitamins. We collected plants, seeds, flowers and even mushrooms that we carefully washed and processed in different ways to make the most out of them.
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 their inherent properties and benefits. We discovered that acorns need to be leached in order to get rid of the tannins and that grounded carob seeds were used in scarcity times as a substitute of chocolate.
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.
We envisioned these guides as a real diegetic prototype that we were almost able to create during the Dutch Design Week. The idea was to search all over Arnhem for sources of food that could be processed and eaten, to later create their matching Urban Foraging Guide. Sadly, the situation with Covid-19 didn't allow us to physically go there and do it, but we have many ideas to bring crops and foodstuff back to our cities that we hope to develop over the coming months.
Though dystopian, 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?
Some of this questions were especially relevant during the beginning of the pandemic, when many supermarkets run out of stock of many foods and other basic needs products. Unexpectedly as the pandemic was, our scenario was close to become a reality, or at least it made us realise that such a scenario was not that unbelievable: the reasons may be many, but what if our food supply system is threatened to the point where people in big cities loose their ability to feed themselves?