Dinner Reimagined

Future of Food

In October 2014, humanities scholars and their community partners through a “charrette” process envisioned the future of food in Phoenix Arizona in 2040, what should be on our plates for Dinner 2040. The meal plan incorporated scientific, historical, cultural, and place-based practices that sustain the environmental integrity of the Southwest in United States, honor its culinary innovations, ensure health for ‘future’ foods, and promote food justice and food sovereignty. This pilot project sought to establish a model for other communities as they consider the future of food in their regions. Starting with a pilot workshop, we explored avenues to a future food system which is more sustainable, respects the ecological integrity of the place, preserves cultural traditions, health, and ensures just practices in the production, distribution and consumption of food.

In October 2014, humanities scholars and their community partners utilized a “charrette” process to envision the future of food in Phoenix Arizona in 2040, asking: what should be on our plates for Dinner 2040?

The meal plan incorporated scientific, historical, cultural, and place-based practices that sustain the environmental integrity of the Southwest in the United States, honor its culinary innovations, ensure health for ‘future’ foods, and promote food justice and food sovereignty.

This pilot project sought to establish a model for other communities as they consider the future of food in their regions. Starting with a pilot workshop, we explored avenues to a future food system which is more sustainable, respects the ecological integrity of the place, preserves cultural traditions, health, and ensures just practices in the production, distribution and consumption of food.

The future of food in Maricopa County Workshop

The next phase of the project took place on November 14, 2016. One hundred community leaders met for a layered conversation about what we should be eating in Phoenix in 2040 and how we get there. This event was organized to be a model for other communities to engage with humanists and community members about building a sustainable food system for their community. The potential of the “Dinner 2040” design lies in its invitation for community-wide examination of and movement towards aspirational food practices of the future.

More information can be found here:

Themes

Values that guide the thinking about the Future of Food in a particular place.

The thinking about the Future of Food in a particular place.

31 October 2014

Charrette Ideation

11:15 - 12:15

Ice-breaking

As this early working lunch begins, community partners and steering committee members are interviewed on video. In the ice breaking session, we share our photos and objects, introduce the charrette process, describe expected contributions from each member such as idea generation, sketching, and giving each team member a voice.

Charrette 1: Imagining Sustainable Food Practices in Phoenix

12:15 - 1:00

Brainstorming

In this exercise, we imagine how community and cultural identity can support environmentally and socially sustainable food practices. The facilitator reads the topic context and the topic question. Each team member briefly writes one ideal example of the topic per post-it note. If a team member finishes her/his idea before the other members, the team member can write a new idea on another note. As soon as all team members have written their first idea, each team member placed their notes on the flip chart, and reads his/her notes (30 seconds maximum per idea). Once all ideas have been read, discussion can happen for two minutes. This write/read/discuss cycle is repeated, until a total of 10 minutes has been spent on the topic. This brainstorm process is then repeated on the next topic with a new flip chart.

Topics

Historical, Cultural, and Place-based Practices:

Some historical/cultural practices of the Southwest deserve to be reinforced or reintroduced because they conserve resources and support a sense of place. We can incorporate those historical cultural practices in the development of innovative culinary practices. We can draw from the diversity that exists in local cultures (such as incorporating practices of ethnic groups, indigenous groups and social groups, both current and historical). Imagine how food culture can best reflect local community identity in 2040.

Question 1. How can we draw on the diverse food traditions of the Southwest to create more sustainable food practices, that support a sense of place, than current food practices?

Sustaining Ecological Health:

The availability of natural resources (water, energy, land, fuel, etc.) will change by 2040. The carbon impact of production and transportation of food will necessitate more local food production. As water and energy become scarce, we must efficiently use these natural resources, and find ways to augment them. How will innovations in agricultural methods and crops provide an adequate supply of food while protecting biodiversity? (such as drought resistant and heat-resistant crops, novel low-input foods from algae or biosynthesis; working with plant and animal species’ limited ability to adapt to higher temperatures; new approaches to irrigation, land use, and agricultural methods).

Question 2. Which food production and consumption practices will ensure ecological health?

Culinary Innovations for Human Health:

Culinary practices need to be developed for sustainable crops and foods that will be available in 2040. These innovative culinary practices can draw from both existing and historical culinary traditions. How do we ensure that our food culture supports sufficient physical exercise and enhances nutrition? (such as devising culinary techniques for the crops of the future and for new sources of food; innovating healthy, balanced meals and dishes that creatively use 2040 Maricopa County crops).

Question 3. What culinary innovations should we develop that support human health?

Food Justice and Social Justice:

We can envision sustainable food practices that are fair and equitable to all members of society. For instance we need to ensure fair food distribution and access with no food deserts. Immigrant labor has played a crucial role in the food system. Workers within the food system must be assured of a safe working environment and one that treats them fairly.

Question 4. How do we build food justice in Phoenix in 2040?

1:00 - 1:40

Back-casting: Planning for Phoenix food culture in the year 2040

To reach the imagined future from the present, each team reviews the sustainable food practices and community organizations that enable the ideal examples. You can develop one idea as a team for the back-cast, or have up to four ideas developed concurrently as back-casts. Working forward from the present, teams identify and articulate necessary intermediary steps, providing a target year for each step. Each team sketches one or more back-casting diagrams, with one diagram per 11” x 17” page. Other relevant ideas will also be sketched. Sketches need not be of publishing quality. Please feel free to express yourself visually.

1:40 - 2:00

Reporting (4 minutes per Team)

2:00 - 2:15

Break

Charrette 2: Creating the Story of a Meal

2:15 - 2:55

Brainstorming Food in 2040

Drawing from what each team explored from the previous exercises, how can these ideas and practices be incorporated into more sustainable foods, dishes, preparation, production and food consumption practices? Each team member will propose clearly defined foods, dishes (you can consider main dishes, beverages and deserts), preparation, production and food consumption practices (one per post-it note) that address all four (or three) of the topics. In this process, a team member reads her/his idea when posting it. Discussion is allowed, with emphasis on posting many ideas, not on judging the ideas, and giving each participant a voice.

2:55 - 3:35

Writing and Visualizing the Story

Each team selects one or two dishes from the previous session that best embody the core ideas of your team. Your team may combine more than one dish to tell a fuller story and make more satisfying meal. Write how your team’s dish incorporates (dishes incorporate) the four topics in 2040. What struggles do you imagine were faced by the various people who produced, prepared and/or consumed the dish? What challenges do you imagine that they had to overcome and how did they overcome those challenges?

Each team succinctly writes the story of the meal production process on an 8 1/2“ x 11” page, combining the most prominent social, environmental and the culinary details. On an 11” x 17” page, sketch the dish(es) with pertinent images to illustrate the story. Sketches need not be of publishing quality. Please feel free to express yourself visually.

3:35 - 4:05

Reporting (7 minutes per Team)

4:05 - 4:30

Team Reflection

The steering committee member will record each team’s collective reflections on the charrette process using cellphones or digital recorders. This information will be later transcribed.

Three-minute video clips will also be taken of Individual participants from 3:35 to 4:30. Community partners will be videoed during Reporting.

31 October 2014

Charrette Outcome

Group I, Giovanna Di Chiro, Jeff Klopatek (chef), Joan McGregor, Richard Sterling, Stephanie Foote

  • Dates and figs stuffed with goat cheese and herbs
  • 9 bean salad (white, black, and spotted beans)
  • Tacos made with mesquite flour and corn flour filled with veggies & native chilies
  • Melon sorbet from local melons
  • Cucumber mint water
  • Arizona-grown Wine

Group II, Nalini Chhetri, Maria Cruz- Torres, Joan Baron

  • Tamales from locally grown ingredients
  • Pecan pie
  • Flan
  • Tequila
  • Fruit Salad
  • Scorpion gummy treats?

Group III, David Philips, Dana Eldridge (Navajo food systems), Cindy Gentry (Urban farming and policy), Rossane Albright (PHX Food policy)

  • Grilled olives and goat cheese
  • Roasted pumpkin (lavender, honey, and sunflower seeds; chili, rosemary, and basil)
  • Hibiscus prickly pear lemonade with mint
  • Wine
  • Stew – seasonal meat (elk), squash, chili, and beans
  • Corn tortilla with pinon (?) butter
  • Salad – wild greens, pinion, goji berries, sheep’s milk cheese
  • Farrow with grapes and pumpkin seeds
  • Blue corn mush
  • Mesquite cookies
  • Corn cakes with apple and honey

Group IV, Kyle Whyte, Maya Dailey (farmer and CSA), Lora Reid (United way—food justice), Gary Dirks (Director, Julie Ann Wrigley global Institutes of Sustainability)

  • Mesquite amaranth crepe with verdolagas onion salad, topped with red chili mole and goat cheese
  • Squash with pumpkin seed soup
  • Prickly pear juice
  • Tequila
  • Dates with honey
Community Partners

Our Teams

Our teams, including community partners in the culinary arts, indigenous communities, agriculture and organic farming, public health, policy planning, and food markets, worked towards constructing a new paradigm for integrating sustainable food practices into local food growing and eating practices.

The Future of Food group, led by philosopher Joan McGregor, included consultants Joni Adamson and Giovanna Di Chiro, and humanities scholars Stephanie Foote, Nalini Chhetra, Maria Cruz-Torres, and Kyle Whyte. Philip White designed the 2014 Charette exercise.

Our community partners were: Jeff Klopatek, Richard Sterling, Joan Baron, Dana Eldridge, Cindy Gentry, Rossane Albright, Maya Dailey, and Lora Reid.

Website content was written by Joan McGregor, the website development team led by Joni Adamson, with web design and development by Patricia Ferrante, and technical support by Arina Melkozernova.

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