I recently visited the new exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History in New York called Our Global Kitchen, Food, Nature, Culture. As more and more Americans learn about their food, they can now feast on a museum exhibit that attempts to tell the whole story.
To tackle food as a broad subject is to launch upon a vast ocean in a small barque amidst thousands of hidden reefs. Topics such as genetic modification of foods lurk beneath the surface of most conversations about food. But this exhibit manages to stay afloat, informing visitors without sinking into political or cultural debates. You can wander through displays that explain how humans have shaped food through plant and animal breeding and how food is exchanged through complex trading networks. The exhibit employs statistics and charts, in excess at times, to provide enough information for visitors to come to their own conclusions about the state of our food system.
One display celebrates all the ways that food connects the human family while innovating different tools and cuisines. You can experiment with your own sense of taste by visiting the exhibit’s food science laboratory where you can learn how we sense taste and flavor. One room contains examples of what people ate during different time periods, such as Ancient Rome and Early America. The exhibit curators provided a creative way to tell those stories, using models of what cuisines looked like in their own cultural settings. In all, Our Global Kitchen, is well worth a visit. My only lament is that the exhibit doesn’t come with a printed catalog in addition to a website.
Our Global Kitchen (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/our-global-kitchen-food-nature-culture), is open until August 11, 2013.