From Waste to Taste: a dinner experiement

Full Zine PDF: WasteToTaste

From Waste to Taste was a dinner experiment that brought residents of my apartment building together over unwanted or unused food. This project relied on the contribution of soon-to-be wasted food and created a space for meeting an interaction among people that live in close proximity to one another. The process of transforming “waste into taste” occurred in three main steps. The first was the collection of food from residents. Here’s a short message I sent out:

You’re invited to my Waste Makes Taste dinner this Saturday, March 31st! In preparation for the meal, I ask that you contribute one unused or unwanted food item from your kitchen. Really, I want your unwanted food! All you have to do is let me know what time you’d like me to pick it up, and I will be there to get it. Let me know if you can make it, and feel free to bring your roommate. I look forward to seeing you!

  • When: Saturday, March 31 @ 7 PM
  • Where: Webster Hall, Apt. 411
  • What: Your unwanted food
  • Who: Webster Hall Residents

Second, was the planning and preparation of the meal. I had no way of knowing what food I would be given, so what I cooked somewhat spontaneous. This transformation of unrelated food scraps into one cohesive meal is interested in the way it relates to the relationships among participants. This brings me to the third step: the meal. Every person that showed up at my apartment was greeted by someone they had not previously known. However, a relationship already existed within the food. Unlike a potluck, where each person brings a dish to a gathering, this project asked for ingredients that would later be joined into one dish. Though small, it’s a gesture that links people and creates a common ground.

Another major component of this piece was the incorporation of food waste into a meal. Since moving into my current apartment, I’ve noticed that many residents fail to consume all of the food they buy. Broadly speaking, this project questions societal relationships to food, including food access and the interactions that happen between people during a meal. More specific to this project is the way a meal can function to unify individuals. It also brings the matter of food justice into question by generating discussion on food waste.

In sum, From Waste to Taste incorporates participation in multiple ways. The first is the exchange of unwanted food to be used for a meal. The second is the meal itself, where residents of my apartment building were able meet one another. While there was no set agenda for the conversations that happened during the meal, the “collaborative” dishes were a viable starting. Those discussions carried on organically, proving the power of a meal and its ability to reveal connections among previously disparate individuals.

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