In 2008, 2191 million tonnes of food produced left almost a million human beings hungry. If food production increases in arithmetic progression, prices increase in geometric progression. Between January 2002 and February 2008 the average price of food went up by 140%. In the last year, the increase has been over 53%. More is produced, more is paid, more is wasted, not only this but more die of hunger. How long do we have to continue to play the idiotic game of more more more, cooking up with skilful masochism a flavoursome “recipe for alimentary disaster”?

Biblical object, biological object, symbolic object, social object, sexual object, aesthetic object, ethical object, global object, local object...What kind of relationship have we created with eating? How have we managed to transform the most instinctive act of survival after breathing into:
-a very chic art called culinary
-an aesthetics of good taste and savoir fair
-an ethno-cultural background
-an ideological battle for safeguarding bio-diversity
-a problem of general allergology
-a cause of new psychic pathologies
-a cardinal concept marketing in tourism
in short, a true social obsession, a fetish and in the end, ça va sans dire, a new myth for today?
Michael Pollan's perfect meal is the one made with vegetables grown in your garden. A typical meal consumed by any inhabitant of an opulent society will probably be made up of elements that have passed through customs more than once. Soia comes from the Far East or the Hungarian plains, maize and the glucose derived from it comes from Iowa or the Indo valleys, the tomato is Andalusian or Moroccan, lemons are from Tel-Aviv etc. If once the cost of food was directly proportional to the distance travelled to get to our table, today it is the opposite and it is cheaper and simpler to buy food that comes from far away. MacKinnon and Smith, authors of the “100-mile diet” attempt to do the opposite, to eat food gathered, cultivated and produced within a 100 mile radius of the home. Oliver Rowe, a young London chef, has opened Konstam in King’s Cross, attempting – and succeeding – in coming up with dishes made from products with a rigorous pedigree – born, raised, gathered or slaughtered in within the M25 motorway around London. If this is added to the proliferation of community gardens, this data speaks of an increasingly active interest in genuine and controlled food, that is approximated to the distance of 0 kilometres.
As in ancestral times, food, by a kind of historical nemisis, has returned to obsess our everyday behaviour. The relationship with food in western countries has passed in a short time from an average of less then three meals a day to a frequency that goes from six to fifteen daily contacts. We eat at work, in front of the TV, while shopping. Food occupies our time and colonises our space and our imagination.The unchanged panorama of the monoculture contrasts with the sparkle of hypermarkets overflowing with colourful food. The food industry traces the agenda of territorial logistics, imposes urban food-orientated spaces and decides on the prevalent symbols of our pop culture.
Can we define food, like art, as an anxious object?

DomusLab Food, the Domus workshop at the 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture, recently proposed a series of meetings and reflections focused on food as a pluri-semantic object. During the two-month agenda covered by the workshop, a surprising amount of material was accumulated. Freely superimposed by concretion, it contributed to survey a physical and mental map of food in contemporary society. It is, of course, a provisional and overtly non-objective map, more like a constellation of traces than a millimetric resolution. But for this very reason, in the spirit of the open project that has surrounded the idea of DomusLab right from the beginning, we want to share this map of elements with all those concerned. In this way everybody interested in the topic can acquire traces, manipulate and organise fragments, to construct their own personal representation of the contemporary system of food.