COVID Foodways began as a collaboration with colleagues through the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability on a pair of online surveys in Spanish asking consumers and producers how their foodways have changed during the pandemic. With collaborators from the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin, we translated the surveys into English and received institutional review board (IRB) approval to conduct them more formally. We have since received a modest research award which we will use to support companion social practice art projects.
COVID-19 impacts food systems and food culture as intensely as other realms of daily life. It reveals systemic problems, puts our habitual behaviors on hold, and provokes us to develop new forms of food consumption, distribution, and production. We see in this sudden shock to our foodways and food systems an opportunity for “resilience studies” of food--it shows us vulnerabilities and fault lines as well adaptation and innovation. While seemingly endless, the pandemic will ultimately be fleeting, and the crucial problem we’ve identified is to capture in real time (or in recent memory) the crises and creativities of COVID Foodways.
We’re working to operate simultaneously with multiple research strategies, from the arts and humanities, from qualitative and quantitative social sciences, and from biological sciences. Analyzing individual creativity and innovative organizational responses to the pandemic can make a generational contribution to our understanding of practical, necessary, and systemic responses to global disruption.
Collectively we aim to produce scholarship in food studies and environmental sciences, participatory and documentary artworks, and models of community education that enable anyone interested in how food happens to learn from this pandemic experience.