The opening of the American Museum of Natural History's new exhibition, Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, this Saturday (Nov. 17) comes at an interesting time.
The exhibit, which will look at food production throughout history and address the challenge we currently face of feeding an ever-growing population without destroying the planet as we do so, comes just days before Thanksgiving, the nation's holiday most focused on food as celebratory act. Obviously, as this is an annual holiday, the exhibition planners no doubt planned the opening with Thanksgiving in mind. The second reason the timing is interesting, though, is due to an event that no one could have anticipated well in advance. The AMNH is located in New York City, which, along with other areas of the East Coast, is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. In recognition of these dichotomous events, Ellen V. Futter, president of the AMNH, said in a press release, "As the Museum prepares to open this comprehensive exhibition on the subject of food, we find ourselves disquietingly poised between the extremes of Hurricane Sandy--with its extensive devastation, including disruption to the food supply--and...Thanksgiving. In such a timely and vivid context, the Museum presents Our Global Kitchen, which addresses the vital and complex topic of food from the perspectives of the environment, food supply, and human culture."
Influencing many of the perspectives the exhibit will take is work from researchers at IonE, including director Jon Foley and Global Landscapes Initiative chief collaboration officer Paul West. Portions of Our Global Kitchen will focus on topics brought up in a Nature paper by Foley, West and others, entitled "Solutions for a cultivated planet." Essentially since its publication in October of last year, IonE researchers have been advising the AMNH exhibition team and their science has greatly contributed to many aspects of the exhibition.
The Nature paper focuses on the challenge of increasing food production while shrinking agriculture's negative effects on the environment, and offers areas where progress toward those ends can be made. Among these are halting tropical deforestation, closing yield gaps, increasing resource efficiency, shifting diets and reducing waste. According to West, entire rooms of the AMNH exhibition address many of these very topics.
Our Global Kitchen will run from Nov. 17, 2012, through Aug.11, 2013, at the American Museum of Natural History, after which it is expected to tour other major cities around the world, though none are currently scheduled. You can visit the exhibition's website for more information and read "Solutions for a cultivated planet" at Nature. See images (© AMNH\D. Finnin) from the exhibition below.