Culinary physics_project proposal

I want to do something across food and the environment/climate change. Food sits at a very crucial and sensitive threshold between the changing environment and human sustenance. On one hand food is one of the major contributors to climate change and environmental pollution and on the hand its also one of the first systems to take a beating from a warming climate.¬† We have known for a long time that livestock production, agriculture driven by synthetic fertilizers and food waste are biggest causes of climate change, On the other hand it’d also be interesting and enlightening to look at how our daily food choices and cooking methods or rituals affect the climate and the environment in the long run. Like cooking rice in a pot vs in a rice cooker. Or even the type of rice you choose and how much fresh water it demands both for production and cooking and your choices that could result from the trade offs between the two. Can we design better kitchen solutions which could make use of resources and cooking energy more efficiently?

As Stefani pointed out, I could even link this to my earlier project Gene drives for the Ganges. The Ganges or Ganga as it’s called in Hindi¬†is not just a river but one of the most significant socio-cultural symbols in the Indian subcontinent. It is worshiped as a goddess and is a symbol of abundance and fertility an purity. Ironically its is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world and there have been several attempts to clean and rejuvenate the Ganges. The river stretches over 2500 km (~1550 miles) from its origin in the Himalayas to its mouth in the bay of Bengal in Indian ocean. It crosses several major cities along its course with very distinct cultural variations, some being very ancient civilizations and historical pilgrimage sites while some cities being highly anglicized during the colonial period. These cultural variations also bring about distinct cuisines from different regions. Apart from cultural variations the river also streams across very distinct geographies. The river is basically a constant stream of melting glaciers in the Himalayas which flow through he high altitude hills down to the plains. As an effect the ecosystems both in and around around the river also undergo drastic changes. All of this diversity will be interesting to explore in a culinary medium. There are so many distinct flavor profiles to explore along with a range of colors, textures, cultural symbols, history and myths.

And not to forget the darker side of the the Ganges which is the extreme environmental pollution and a severely beaten ecosystem. Could such a project that tells the story of the Ganges through food be effective in attracting some attention towards the environmental cause?

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