Live from the Union Square subway:  A big food message that tips its hat to changing consumer perception.  When I saw this poster, the first thing I thought of was the film King Corn.  The filmmakers explain that grass-fed cows used to take 2-3 years to get fat and ready for our beef consumption.  Once we started feeding them corn, however, they got to the same weight in just 15 months.  By changing the diet of our cows, we’re forcing them into false maturation.  With this, and so many of our industrial food ways, we wrestle nature into the ground.

More and more, activist groups like Slow Food USA, are putting reason back on the table.  It takes time and thoughtfulness to make real food.  This Simply Orange ad isn’t all good, nor all bad.  But it’s interesting to think about its context.  Why would this be their message now?  The food revolution is making its way through the mass media channels.  What do you think?

Live from the Union Square Subway

Union Square was recently the open air venue for a scene that was part urban agriculture, part art piece.  It brought to mind the Shaker proverb:  “Don’t make anything unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.”

The exhibit was a wall of Woolly Pockets: flexible pouches, made in the U.S. and comprised of recycled materials, that house plants on vertical surfaces.  An ordinary wall becomes a living thing; watching people walk around it, the verdant sculptures hooked people in.  Tourists took photos.  Some people took bites.  It was easy to the beauty and the usefulness.

But my favorite part was in the necessity of this idea.  For example, for those of us who just finished watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, we learned that there’s a problem in our schools:  Students don’t know where food comes from.  At one point, Jamie held up an eggplant before a first grade class and no one could tell him what it was.  Nor could they tell him that the French fry came from a potato.

The people behind Woolly Pockets understand this food illiteracy, so they also use their pieces to educate through vertical gardens.  For $1,000, a school can start a fifty pocket garden, fully equipped with the soil, seed packets, planting and nutritional manuals.  Their goal is to plant their unique form of gardening in 11,000 schools across the United States by 2011.

Perhaps we don’t have to go back to the land at all.  Maybe some of it can come in with us.

Unexpected Sights at Union Square

Pockets Full of Greens

Sunshine as a Basic Ingredient

Woolly Pockets and Their Paparazzi

Just When You've Seen It All, the Avatar Actors Show Up

The Long View of Beautiful, Useful, and Necessary