CALL TO ACTION USING STORYTELLING

The ‘Food for tomorrow’ exhibit case

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Part I | Introduction

How do we feed 10 billion people with equality, sustainability and with nutritional quality? This is the question at the heart of the exhibition “Food for Tomorrow – Feeding 10 Billion,” inaugurated by the Museum of Tomorrow in April of 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through the use of technological resources, ample imagery and interactivity, the most visited museum of South America delves into the details of the largest and most primitive social network on Earth – the food chain. What’s more, the exhibition has spoilers about our future: there will be many, many more of us, and in order to live well and coexist in urban spaces we will have to change our habits, explore new agricultural frontiers and invest in technology. And all of this will need to happen quickly!

So what does this mean, dear reader? One example is the need to “trim the fat”, as the popular saying goes. This implies changing our habits and cutting out meat from our diets, replacing it with alternative, healthy protein sources such as insects. But don’t let this news scare you – two billion people already eat insects daily. Scientists are busy working to soften the impact of these changes through the development of flours made from crickets, grasshoppers and even cockroaches for bread and cakes, for example.

With the support of scientific consultants from various institutions in Brazil and abroad, “Food for Tomorrow” was presented in five parts and addresses themes such as health, hunger and waste issues, as well as the use of technology for food production and the search for new agricultural frontiers. The exhibition received 251,000 visitors.

Installed in the space are six large images of microtomography (micro-CT) scanned fruit, artificially colored and printed on special fabric three meters in length. The photos display the insides of the fruit and highlight the physical differences between cocoa, peaches, pomegranates, jabuticabas, tangerines and pitangas.

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Item 1 of 5

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

The vibrant colors of the photographs emphasize the seeds and leave the public with the knowledge that in those very seeds lies the food of tomorrow, meant for consumption by future populations.

Producing these images took quite some effort, and the end result was achieved with the assistance of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) jointly with researchers from the Image and Digital Microscopy Analysis Group and the organization NEXT (Center for Tridimensional Experimentation).

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Part II | The Search for the Holy Grail

Taking the micro-CT scans presented the first challenge: only small fruits up to five centimeters tall were able to fit in the machine capturing the images. This was a major surprise for us curators, since we were expecting to scan pineapples and maybe a watermelon. It was time to recalculate the route and create a new wish list.

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

With the new foods selected, the search for the fruits began in a few supermarkets, revealing a major problem: there’s an aesthetic standard for the sale of fruit on shelves, in grocery stores and in other establishments. According to a survey by the company “Imperfect Fruit,” 10% of fruits and vegetables that grow very large or very small or with imperfections in their color or shape are wasted. Put simply, food is thrown away. That happens in a world where 815 million people suffer from hunger, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a figure that increases every year.

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Rethinking our distribution and consumption strategies is essential for avoiding losses in the production process and in order to make full use of our food.

This type of standard made getting a hold of certain fruit difficult, and some with the ideal size were brought in from other parts of the country, such as the cocoa from the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia and the goiaba from the state of São Paulo. Fun fact: jabuticaba, a typical Brazilian fruit, was out of season and for this reason wasn’t on sale anywhere. The fruit used for the image was found in the freezer of one of the Museum’s directors.

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Item 1 of 9

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Photo: Guilherme Leporace, Museum of Tomorrow

Part III | Revealing the fruit

Scanning the selected fruit took hours of work, and more than a few days were needed to color the images. The artistic-scientific collaboration produced high-definition images and interactive animations that allow visitors to understand what’s inside each of the different foods.

The public is given the opportunity to better understand that these aren’t just fruits easily found on the streets of Brazilian cities, where abundance and scarcity live side by side. Rather, they are unique ecosystems divided into layers that hold genetic secrets deep within in the form of seeds.

Researchers know this – so much so that they store seeds in more than 1,700 seed banks around the world, protected from climate change, the advance of monoculture and war. The same is done with edible plants and animals threatened with extinction. In order to conserve them, we must first understand them. The Museum of Tomorrow seeks to serve as an “educational museum” to help Brazilians to reflect on the tomorrows that we strive to build.

To access a virtual version of the ‘Food for tomorrow’ exhibition, click here.


Eduardo Carvalho
Curatorial team of the Museum of Tomorrow,
Chevening Clore Fellow

The project Farming for the future: ecological agriculture and food security in the 21st century is a cross-border initiative aiming to document the trends, challenges and opportunities in ecological farming across the world. This project was financed by the UK Chevening Scholarship Programme.