Final project proposal – Food Systems

For my final project for Food Systems class, I decided to talk about food waste. 

It was after watching this TED talk by Tristan Stuart that I decided to talk about that:

Now food waste is a pretty big topic that involves a complex system of its own:

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In my research I have found some very interesting facts that have influenced my decisions:

  • Agriculture is responsible for more than a third of greenhouse gases worldwide. It also drains our planet of water and pumps chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer into our land.
  • One-third of food worldwide is wasted. 40% of the total in the U.S.
  • Eradicating food waste would reduce total U.S. methane emissions by 25%, contributing significantly to the decrease of greenhouse gasses emissions.
  • 97% of food waste goes to landfills.
  • In our homes, we waste ¼ orf the food we buy.
  • An estimated six billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are wasted every year in the U.S. because they are ugly.

My conclusion is: We need a CULTURAL change in our DAILY habits.

Concept: Explore the cultural aspect of food waste, especially the fruit and vegetable waste. There is a concept of standard beauty behind the food we buy. Across the U.S., ugly produce of fruit and vegetables is being treated like a second-class citizen. Instead of going to feed people, all that wasted produce is sitting in landfills, where it releases methane gas into the atmosphere. I think it’s ridiculous that so much delicious produce is going to waste. And after all, what really makes an apple perfect? Is it its shape? Its color? We have a pre-conceived image of what makes food good and that is mostly related to esthetics and not nutritional aspects. Wasted fruit doesn’t simply disappear when we decide they are not good enough for us. There is a lack of responsibility of people → it’s not my problem. So what is our part as consumers and how can we change that perception?

What is out there:

  • Imperfect: an initiative that delivers rejected vegetables and fruit to households for 30% – 50% cheaper.

  • Intermarche – Inglorious Fruit and Vegetables campaign.

  • Ugly fruit and Veg campaign –


Approach 1: What makes a potato beautiful?

Asking a sample of people (ideally at least 5) to bring me 2 potatoes: one of them should be perfect and the other one should be the ugliest they could find, something they would not buy. Then I’d ask them to tell me what makes these potatoes good or bad. After that, I’d scan all the samples and build virtual 3D objects of them. Then, the idea is to build one single 3D perfect potato made out of the “beautiful 3D objects” and one single ugly potato also made with a mix of all the ugly ones. I’d like to see what I would get from these meshes and to check if, in the end, they would be very different from each other when you put them side by side. Then I would then 3D print each of these objects and tag them with a list of characteristics that people have used to describe them + technical details (wich would be the same for both). With this I want people to think about this stereotyped image we have about the “good looking food” and about all the perfectly eatable food that is thrown away because of our way of thinking.

Approach 2: The life and death of 4 potatoes.

Getting 4 potatoes I could find and showing the life and death story of them in a human and sarcastic way. The idea is to play with the concept of how they were left to die in because of stupid reasons. One could be in the left behind in the farm because it was too ugly, another on its way to the supermarket because it got a scratch, another is forgotten in the fridge until it freezes to death and just one of them dies serving to its purpose (being eaten). The way to show these stories would be by having them physically side by side. Once the user touched one of them, he would be able to listen to its story. for this idea I was also thinking of printing an obituary with the 4 deaths. In this paper I’d talk also about some facts related to the fruit/vegetable waste and how consumers can take part in changing this situation.




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