Food Focus in the American Museum of Natural History

By: Kate Sweitzer

Food is rising to the forefront of more and more people’s attention in recent times. I was excited to see that an entire exhibit was recently designed to showcase many aspects of food and its role within our society. Food is a significant part of our history as a species and now it is being showcased in a natural history museum!

 The American Museum of Natural History in New York currently has an exhibit titled “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture.” It highlights how food is grown, traded and transported, cooked, tasted, and eaten. The exhibit also touches upon the role of food in different cultures and the future of food in our world. I came across an article on the exhibition in the New York Times from November 2012 (You can read the article here or the museum webpage here). The exhibit will be open until August 2013—go check it out!

 Interestingly enough the article points out that the exhibition has a heavy slant toward conservation and environmentalism. It focuses heavily on numbers to shock visitors by the enormity of the food supply, the food diversity, and the food waste. I agree that the scale of food to feed the world is off the charts and hard to comprehend but I believe awareness is needed more so than the shock factor. As a disclaimer, I have not had the opportunity to visit the exhibit.

The AMNH exhibit does focus on some science! It has an interactive portion that teaches about aromas and the role of the nose in flavor. There are also some science tidbits sprinkled throughout. Visitors are encouraged to think about how their food has evolved over time through human domestication and other influences. As it was reported by the NY Times the exhibit gives a reasonably balanced perspective on the food issues facing the world.

 Some fascinating links are attached to the exhibit such as an archive of restaurant menus dating back to 1850s! Explore them here. The AMNH also links to movements such as “Meatless Mondays,” WHO’s Food Safety information, and Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch program.



What do you think about the exhibit? Have you had the chance to visit it?

Photo credit


Science Meets Food

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1 Comment

  1. Cool, this is on my list of things to do next time I’m in New York, hopefully before the exhibit ends!

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