This blog documents research and events related to an art project, Industrial Harvest, an artistic gesture about food systems, nourishment and the City of Chicago. This project began with the purchase of a futures contract for 1000 bushels of soft red winter wheat on the Chicago Board of Trade. I also bought 1000 bushels of real soft red winter wheat (about 30 tons), had it milled into about 20 tons of flour, and spent the summer and fall of 2010 giving that flour away around the Chicago area. Most of the flour went to soup kitchens, food banks and food pantries; smaller amounts went to organizations doing work around food systems, hunger and agriculture, and some went to individuals so that they could nourish others with it.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange / Board of Trade is the largest futures exchange in the world and symbolizes the largest, most impersonal of systems shaping our relationship to food. Through countless intimate interactions, I want to transform this “commodity” back to its true essence. Wheat is a nearly universal symbol of nourishment and enrichment and is believed to be one of the original crops that turned us from hunter gatherers into farmers – for better or worse, down the path to civilization. Still, we understand little about its place in today’s food systems.
My goal for this project is research and education by doing. I want to increase my own understanding of the system that, ultimately, feeds us. I want to create an extended performance-story that is a metaphor for Chicago’s city-as-middleman existence, as the city’s residents watch and participate.
Read more details about the project here.
About me: I’m an artist and urban planner, originally from the rural midwest & now living in Seattle, Washington (link to website).
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