Sketching a Foodberg

Organised by Catherine Flood, curator of FOOD: Bigger than the Plate, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Kathrin Böhm, artist and co-founder of Company Drinks and the Centre for Plausible Economies.

Wednesday 03 April from 6.30 – 8pm
at 7a Vyner Street, London E2 9DG

This Haystack is more of a brainstorm and a drawing session, and the invitation is to start mapping the ‘hidden food economies’ we are involved in – beyond being simply consumers. The food system as we know it is often drawn as a bottleneck, in which a small number of corporations hold all the power in the supply chain. What would an image of the food system look like if it was to make visible all the economic practices that don’t feature in mainstream accounts of food and the economy (cooking dinner for your partner every night, freeganism, growing vegetables, community supported agriculture, breastfeeding, honesty cafes, protest camp kitchens, exchanging recipes, etc).


The inspiration for the ‘Foodberg’ is the ‘Economy as Iceberg’ image used by economic geographer Katherine Gibson and the Community Economy Research Network (CERN). The Iceberg shows the dominant and most visible economies on the top and below the waterline are the less visible and often disregarded parts of the economy which keep everything afloat. The image of the diverse economy, originally represented as an iceberg, has travelled far and wide helping communities and organisations to represent and transform economic relationships in a variety of settings, and to make a first step towards ‘taking back the economy‘.

The ‘Sketching a Foodberg’ get-together will be within this spirit of collectively articulating and reclaiming the economy. We start by identifying the kinds of practices that constitute hidden and less present food economies, and discuss what kind of image could represent them in a way that helps people to see the food system – and their role in it- differently. The image might be a ‘foodberg’ or something completely different.

A design based on the outcomes of the workshop will be displayed in the V&A exhibition ‘FOOD: Bigger than the Plate’ opening 18 May (scroll down for more information), but the desire is for it to be a useful tool that has a life beyond the exhibition.

Confirmed guests and contributions (in no particular order) include:

Kate Rich, Feral Trade
Organic Lea, Community Assisted Agriculture
Natascha Walter, Bread n Butter
Cam Jarvis, Company Drinks and When it Works
Jojo Tulloh, Author and Food Researcher
Ruby Tandoh, Food Writer
Claire Ratinon, Grower
Michael Smythe, Cultural Producer, Phytology
Lori de Mori, Towpath Café
Jaega Wise, Brewer, Wild Card Brewery
Güneş Güven, The People’s Kitchen
Shaun Tuck, Company Drinks
Alice Masson Taylor, Gardener, Company Drinks
Betty Vandy, Podcaster and Cook, Bettyliciouscooks
Ben Mackinnon, E5 Bakehouse
Fozia Ismail, Arawelo Eats
Deirdre Woods, Cook Citizen
The People’s Supermarket, Dagenham
Simon Fairly and Gill Baron, The Land Magazine
Jonathan Gordon-Fairlie, Stir to Action
Katherine Gibson, Community Economy Research Network

Please e-mail if you want to suggest others.

About the Exhibition:
Food: Bigger than the Plate (18 May – 20 October 2019)

Food is the most important material there is. It is one of the most powerful tools through which we shape the world we live in, from how we create society, culture and pleasure to how we determine our relationship with the natural world. Today desire is growing for a food future that is more sustainable, just and delicious than the one we are currently cultivating. In an era of major ecological challenges, fast-changing societies and technological re-invention, now is a crucial moment to ask not just what will we be eating tomorrow, but what kind of food future do we want? What could it look like? And taste like? This exhibition brings together a rich mix of creative approaches to investigating, rethinking and reassembling the ways in which we produce, distribute and consume food and the rich networks of relationships that involves (the food system). It is easy to feel that the future of food is out of our hands and will be decided for us by corporations and politicians. But we all have a stake in this story. The projects represented here demonstrate that food is rich ground for citizenship, subversion and celebration.