Affections, habits and sharing pass from nutrition, without forgetting memory: what it can mean to savor a madeleine, described it masterfully by Marcel Proust.
But talking about it can even be alienating, almost disturbing: just shift your attention to junk food, food overproduction, waste and its environmental impact.
The Austrian duo Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter, a.k.a. Honey and Bunny knows it well.
And he has just published an interesting work carried out with the Joint Research Centre/European Commission entitled Food Futures. Sustainable food systems. To open it, however, there are brilliant photographs that portray the two designers-architects-performers in action.
In fact, the European Commission has involved them with the aim of giving voice to the research linked to the Farm to Fork strategic program developed by the EU to transform, by 2030, the 'Europe in a Green country, with a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system.
A remarkable change, which plans to profoundly change our way of looking at the world. And to do so, according to Honey & Bunny, «We have to create new narratives and new aesthetics».
And how? We talked about it with Martin Hablesreiter.
«We started working in 2019 and important issues immediately arose. The first concerns consumption. An approach I hate! It seems that the consumer is the only actor in this story, as if to say: if you consume well, then there will be a change»
In your book you actually speak of the credo “I consume therefore I am”. Can the individual change the European economic system?
"No. Indeed, we are convinced that this creed serves to reduce the pressure on producers, on trade and on politicians.
We are first and foremost citizens. We forget about it because we define ourselves through consumption. And design supports this system so well that if we think of something sustainable, we think of packaging.
Instead, we designers are super heroes of food processing: we have to ask ourselves how we can change goods and their production, but also how to narrate all of this.
We create an aesthetic and an aesthetic contains a language. If you go to the Renaissance, Michelangelo or Leonardo were perfect advertising companies for the Church and the Medici family!».
Is aesthetics also ethical?
"Certainly. An obvious example is the fetishism for cars.
We know that Ferrari is beautiful, but it is the conclusion of a political message that has to do with the idea that technological innovation is good.
It actually makes a hellish noise that we've come to think of as beautiful because we consider successful products to be such. It is called aesthetic capitalism and we should overcome it».
Is 2030 a possible date for food sustainability?
"I think so. The global system of food production in Europe is made up mostly of families and small producers.
Intensive farming on mega-farms is little practiced and this allows us to achieve the 2030 goals, if we want it.
For me it is a matter of will, together with the consideration of some facts, starting with the drop in food prices, which began 50 years ago, and the salaries of farmers, 50% lower than other workers . Change comes from here."
Is the Farm to fork strategy an adequate tool?
"Yes. Between farm and table is a complex system of production, trade, consumption and waste. Food is also a network that connects science, innovation, work, business and culture.
With this strategy developed by the European Union, the question becomes institutional, and it is essential to move away from the logic of the individual consumer, in favor of a political discourse.
I think that changing food habits and production techniques is easier than changing mobility or architecture».
«Because they are, precisely, habits. And we build them every day.
Every step we take creates a new tradition. Every century has its own, indeed, if you look closely, every decade».
«When I was little, in the 70s, in German-speaking countries it was said that Italy was very beautiful, but the food was not good.
In the 80s pasta and pizza were cleared through customs, at the time it was said that in Italy the food was fine, but the bread was not. In the 90s Jamie Oliver praised the bread called ciabatta and now it is said that Italy produces the best bread in the world!
This is how traditions work. And this is why I believe that ten years are enough to change our lifestyle. The future is our decision."
What's your recipe?
«In our performances and artistic actions scientific philosophies and theories are re-discussed. Not without provocation.
Design has always had the function of changing what doesn't work, but this expression includes many things: an object doesn't work, but also the relationship between men and women.
If we deal with the latter, we will have other issues to analyze in order to understand what to create in favor of equality between the sexes. The big questions of culture are the engine of change».
What is culture for you?
«Everything. The way we clean the house is culture, the way we eat, how we dress… And it is man who creates culture, changing it every moment».
And art acts as a booster…
"Yes! Like Tom Cruise on his plane »(laughs)
It's not exactly a sustainable image...
«Or not at all... But we were in the 80s!».