“Wait,” you may say. “Gaming (Dr. Jane McGonigal) I kinda got. Demographic change (Gregory Rodriguez), sure thing. But what does food have to do with museums?”
Food is a big issue for many of our communities, whether it is fighting obesity, making healthy food accessible and affordable, or working to create a sustainable food system. So, museums have an important role in promoting “food literacy.” We can help our communities explore collective values about food, our bodies, our environment and society; and how we can deliver key messages through exhibits, programs and partnerships.
Also, many museums feed their visitors. The choices we make about the food we provide in our facilities embody our values and send a powerful message to our audiences. How to our choices about the food we provide align with health, nutrition and sustainability?
And food is a connector. We are grappling with the challenge of reaching diverse audiences museums have not traditionally served. Food can play a key role in fostering relationships, building new audiences, and (tada!) creating financial sustainability for the museum. (Cue great excuse to watch video of the Kogi Taco Truck at the Japanese American National Museum.)
So we need your help finding a witty, engaging, thoughtful speaker from the food world to lob some provocative ideas at museums about how we engage with food and food issues. Could be a chef or restaurateur, could be a policy wonk or activist. Has to be passionate and articulate. (Jane and Gregory set a high bar, didn’t they?) Preferably someone who hasn’t already made several laps around the museum conference circuit—we’d like to offer a platform to a relatively fresh voice.
Two candidates who have been mention are:
- Mark Bittman, NYT food and food policy columnist and author (How to Cook Everything).
- Dan Barber, food sustainability activist, chef and owner of several restaurants, including Blue Hill at the nonprofit Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.