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Sprouts in the City
Sarah Rich, 22 Nov 06
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Nothing says hippy like a countertop full of sprouts. But like most things that were once "crunchy," sprouts are gaining an urban edge. At least, that's the hope of food culture/art activist, Debra Solomon, who runs culiblog, a site about "food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food." Solomon recently opened an art installation-as-restaurant in Amsterdam called Sproutstaurant, where for two months, where visitors can dine on more than thirty-one flavors of sprouts and microgreens, served with traditional Dutch stamppot. Microgreens have been a fashionable food accent in haute cuisine for some time, but the message with Sproutstaurant is not so much about style (although the presentation is essential), but rather that no matter where we are, we can grow at least some of our own food.

A significant portion of inter-urban transportation is devoted to the acquisition and transportation of food into our homes. Eating home grown food offers a sustainable solution to securing an ethically produced food supply.

Sproutstaurant is situated within an exhibition by the Dutch new media art group, Mediamatic, called Night Garden -- an indoor garden that links "new technology, next nature, contemporary art and its consumption." The exhibition brings together a number of boundary-pushing artists who introduce high-tech technique into artistic commentary about food, nature and our relationships to the systems that sustain us.

I think it's safe to say that Debra Solomon's micro-greens would feel ill-at-ease on a Northern California commune. This project makes sprouting seem like the cutting edge of cultural expression; and while a plate of sprouts may not comprise a belly-filling meal, it does represent the possibility of [at least partial] self-sufficiency, and reminds us that growing food is a creative process. There are some beautiful photos of the multi-colored homegrown art at Solomon's site as well as at Mediamatic.

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