Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘food’

28 NOVEMBER, 2008

Small World, Big Bite

By:

The big picture painted through smallness and sprinkles.

Here’s a paradox: Thanksgiving is supposed to be about gratitude for what we have, a kind of humbling appreciation of our blessings, but somehow me manage to turn it into a celebration of gluttony.

Photographer Matthew Carden‘s Small World collection offers a particularly timely poke at the irony. Just a cool bunch of macro photographs on the surface, the project actually digs deeper with a more thoughtful exploration of our dichotomous relationship with food — part necessary play therapy, part unnecessary excess and wastefulness.

Carden is also working with the Slow Food Foundation on a fascinating project to save the Gravenstein Apple, one of the last foods grown by farmers who truly nurture their crop from tree to table.

The collection both captures the labor-of-love production process that puts food on our plates and reminds us of our own smallness in the natural world that we so freely take from.

Plus, we’d just love to slalom down a sprinkles-covered hill.

via Inhabitat

We’ve got a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s main articles, and features short-form interestingness from our PICKED series. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

28 OCTOBER, 2008

Starving Artist No More

By:

Why da Vinci is rolling in his grave and thinking about peperoni pizza.

Oh, the wonders of Russian art. The great novelists. The great playwrights. The great poets. And, now, the great sausage artists.

That’s right, Russian art is branching out into the edible category with packaged meat art. See some of the great masterpieces reenvisioned with an eye for, well, the stomach.

So much for the starving artist stereotype.

And while nothing about packaged farm animal carcasses screams high culture to us, it does appear to be a thing of the bourgeois — let’s not forget that when the Titanic sank, there were 3,000 tons of ham onboard. (We’ve always wanted to throw something in from our new favorite timesuck, Unnecessary Knowledge.)

via English Russia

We’ve got a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s main articles, and features short-form interestingness from our PICKED series. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

05 JUNE, 2008

Customization Gone Wild

By:

70% fabulous, respecting your inseam, how to add a 29th bone to your foot, and why a bear is missing an “e” but has plenty of nuts.

MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY

In this I-me-mine age, customization is already the expected norm. But what happens when it all runs rampant with made-to-order stuff offering OCD-worthy precision? Freud would sure have a field day with the anal-retentive nature of today’s consumerism, and who are we to stand in Freud’s way? Welcome to the Customization Gone Wild issue.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Since we last featured Freddy&Ma, the design-your-own-handbag getup (named after founder siblings Anthony and Amy Pigliacampo’s childhood partners-in-crime nicknames) has branched out into more cool design-your-own stuff: plates and pillows, to be exact.

The concept is still all about rebelling against the mass-marketed fashions of today and takes a simple approach: to design your own handbag, you get to pick the bag style (tote, pouch, bowler, hobo, clutch and more), the leather trimmings (black, white, tan, brown, maroon) and one of the thousands of patterns (retro, geometric abstract, minimalist, flashy, you name it).

Then they make it for you.

Prices are based on the “canvas” you pick and range from $65 for the wallet-like metro clutch to $295 for the bowler. Or, if you’re feeling lazy and generous at the same time, just pick one of their Carry for a Cause Bags — 30% of your bag money goes towards Art Start or Crate Now, and 70% goes towards making you feel like a good person who just happens to be fabulous.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Back in the day, you went to the tailor to get your custom-fitted suit, made from a fabric of your liking and with those buttons you inherited from your grandmother. Today, you are the tailor.

At least at MakeYourOwnJeans.com, where you get to do just that: make your own jeans. You simply submit your precise measurements and pick a denim wash. Then, these guys (who we’re pretty sure are Santa’s little helpers moonlighting those other 51 weeks of the year) stitch your unique pair together and enzyme-wash it so it’s all pre-shrunken and even-colored. The rest is between you and FedEx guy.

We dig the concept not only because the big O gave it a nod-off, and not merely because non-cookie-cutter style makes us feel special, but also because we believe everyone’s inseam is a very, very special place and should only be clad in something very, very special.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Fact: there are 28 bones in each of your feet. Another fact: feet are ugly, especially the really bony ones. But guess what: now, you can have 29 bones and killer foot style.

We’re taking about Skins Footwear, the tech- meets-design hybrid that features a two-part shoe structure consisting of an orthopedic “bone” core and an outer collapsible “skin.” The idea is you get yourself a perfectly fitting, super comfortable bone and then pick a number of skins so you can mix up the look and keep the comfort.

These guys launched less than a year ago, and they’ve already been featured in The New York Times. (Which is almost as good a nod-off by Oprah.) Not bad for a skin-and-bones concept.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We’re not quite sure if this next über-customizer is the result of dyslexia or pure genius, but YouBar is one “e” short of the Build-a-Bear concept: it’s a fresh-baked, handmade nutrition bar that you build yourself by picking the exact ingredients and even naming your concoction.

And you do it all online.

Here’s how it works: you choose one or two nut butter “bases,” up to 3 different protein sources, some nuts and seeds to add, throw in your choice of dried fruits and berries, add the sweetener you prefer (they even have Stevia!), stir in your favorite seasonings or a bit of chocolate, and add some grains and cereals if you’re so inclined. You can even infuse it all with a shot of vitamins, greens and/or fiber.

Many of the ingredients come in organic version and you can manipulate the proportions of all your choosings within a category (say, 1/3 soy protein + 2/3 whey protein) as well as the levels (not too sweet, extra nuts, etc.) It even calculates the bar’s nutritional value for you — talk about full control.

Then you give your Frankenfood a name and get 12 of your very own lovable, edible monsters for $40 plus shipping.

We, needless to say, absolutely love the concept — it indulges both our health-nutness and our control-freakness. And to think people settle for PowerBars.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
29 MAY, 2008

Layman Voyeurism

By:

Postcards from the afterlife, fridge-peeping, and why George W is buying people Stormtrooper outfits.

The chicken or the egg: did tabloid culture raise us to crave a glimpse into other people’s lives, or are we psychologically pre-wired with voyeuristic tendencies? Whatever the case, we’ve noticed a fairly new trend: our inner Peeping Toms have zoomed in less on Joe DiMaggio and more on Average Joe — we call it layman voyeurism, the draw of peeping into random strangers’ lives for no other reason than basic human curiosity, and perhaps a teeny little bit of self-comparison to make ourselves feel better.

POST SECRET

Ah, the granddaddy of layman voyeurism: PostSecret. Part art, part cathartic confession, this ongoing collaborative community project introduced us to the rich emotional world of suppressed human sentiment.

Through homemade postcards scribbled with personal secrets, it has brought to light thousands of never-before-spoken anonymous confessions since its inception in 2004.

It all started with an installation for Artomatic that year, but it wasn’t long before creator Frank Warren took the project online — because, after all, what better medium to indulge anonymous confession that the Interwebs? Today, there’s a Facebook page with over 150,000 fans. And, of course, there are the books — which could easily be the most moving read you’ve savored in a long, long time.

Often dark, sometimes funny, and always sure to move, the PostSecret phenomenon could easily have ignited the fuse on this whole rush for peeping into the lives of everyday strangers.

So go ahead, free-fall right into it and mail in a secret of your own. You’ll feel so much lighter.


FRIDGEWATCHER

Not all layman voyeurism has to be dark. It can, in fact, be very, very light — especially when you open the door. We’re talking about FridgeWatcher — an offbeat project that simply invites people to open their fridges to others — because “every fridge tells a story.”

We suspect this one is all about the self-comparison factor: peek into a fridge healthier than yours, and you might just guilt yourself into stopping by the produce aisle on the way home. See a sloppier one, and you’ll have a comeback for next time your mother comes over to nit-pick your life.

We dig the concept — so much, in fact, that we opened our own fridge to the world. Go ahead, be judgmental.

via getTRIO

HOW I SPENT MY STIMULUS

Sure, Bush may not have gotten the can’t-buy-me-love memo. But $152 billion in “economic stimulus” later, we’re for once reaping the benefits of W’s questionable judgment calls — and we’re all doing it in different ways.

HowISpentMyStimulus chronicles what exactly Americans are spending their give-or-take $600 on. From the rational debt-relievers, to the hopeless gadget geeks, to the unapologetically self-indulgent, to those we’ll try not to judge, the entire project is one big, rather pointless endeavor. But we dare you to close that browser window once you start stimulus-peeping.

And while we’re at it, what did you spend your $600 on?

via Josh Spear