Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trophy Produce on display

My Trophy Produce is currently on display at the Oklahoma City downtown public library, in their First Edition Cafe.

I thought I'd share my official artist's statement that accompanies the set:

The motivation for a commemorative vegetable “Trophy” grew out of a news story from 2007 which reported that a group of school children in England weren’t sure “whether a carrot is grown in the ground or on a tree”. I then recalled the news from the early 1980’s that the USDA was directed to re-categorize ketchup and pickle relish from “condiment” to “vegetable” when it came to preparing public school lunches*. Currently, bottled juices, sauces, and processed snack crackers offer statements such as, “A full serving of vegetables [and/or fruit] in every cup!”** I have seen “salads” in restaurants which consist solely of a wedge of iceberg lettuce hiding under a pool of ranch dressing.

I feel increasingly more isolated when I think that eating a vegetable means it should look like a bright, vibrant vegetable – not a fish-shaped snack cracker (no wonder children don’t know where vegetables come from – cartoon fish are advertised as vegetable equivalents!) or a soda drink described as “Fruity”. Is a raw beet becoming a rare sighting? Will a spoon of high fructose corn syrup soon be considered a serving of grain?

For those of us who would like to honor and remember the age when fresh produce had an active presence in daily meals, I offer you my “Trophy Produce”. Each piece of Produce is labeled with both its common and Latin names, proudly mounted on a wooden plaque. I do take requests for some fruits and vegetables not on display here. I will also soon offer the option of displaying the piece under a bell jar, for the adventurous type looking for a curio-cabinet style piece.

-Megan Raley

*This move would have saved the government a projected $1billion by cutting a required serving of actual vegetables out of hot meals. Thankfully, this policy was never fully enacted.
**Thanks to a recent ad campaign for a popular brand of tomato sauce.

View the photo set

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