“If you take a plate of potato chips with ketchup on them, kids go yum yum yum, but I can make that look like a pile of fingers after a dreadful road accident.” – Carl Warner
Carl Warner is doing more than just making pretty pictures with food – he is working to create what he calls “nutritional literacy.”
Warner believes that children’s taste in food has a lot to do with aesthetics created by advertising. Places like Mcdonald’s with that sightly weird clown, Ronald; Spur Steak Ranches; Wimpy and other fast food outlets target children with their advertising. Selling high calorie food with low nutritional value as the ultimate good time children can have. It is this that Carl Warner is working with a publisher in the US to address. He believes that through his food landscapes, he can change the way that children relate to food and particularly healthy food.
In a panel discussion on food trends at the London School of Economics literary festival one of the panelists raised the question of food waste – something that regular readers of Food Jams know that we take very seriously around here.
While Warner said that much of the food does get eaten because there is quite a big team and many mouths to feed when the shoot is wrapped up, some of the food has glue or pins in it and this gets tossed away. He does say he gets a number of emails accusing him of wasting food and his response is always the same. He believes that what he does with food is not a waste. He says the images are used in educational programmes, in eating disorder clinics, they are often sold to raise money for charity and even for advertising purposes the food is being used for something constructive. Thus he says, he believes the way he uses food is worthwhile even if it is not being eaten.
Rather than lecturing people on what they should be eating and how they should be eating it – Carl Warner is finding new ways to make people engage with food.
So too does he believe that children should be actively encourage to play with their food. He says his wife used to let their children play with their food – pick it up and handle it and engage with it on an aesthetic level. He says it is a multi-sensory experience which we should encourage.
The practice of forcing children to sit still and eat every morsel on their plate can feel like a form of torture – potentially setting up a lifetime of trauma associated with food.
Food should be enjoyed and experienced and explored – through his foodscape Carl Warner is helping people do so.
His children’s book coming out soon is called A World Of Food by Carl Warner.
– Natalie Simon