Festival Community
This website is using cookies to. By clicking 'OK', you agree with our cookie policy. More about this.


critical writing


About work

Food has hinged itself on historic happenings. In the ancient scriptures of Hinduism, a man was described by the type of food he consumed. Is this religion of food continuing into a contemporary consumerist society in which we are all being consumed by what we eat?Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Some believe that in the last supper, it was the Judas who was the 13th disciple to sit at the table. Umami is popularly referred to as the fifth basic taste, boasting of the quality to guarantee the delicious element in food. The factor that describes a food as umami is the content of glutamates, which enhances the palatability of the substance it is combined with. While it comes naturally in some food, it is often used in the form of MSG (MonoSodium Glutamate = artificial umami crystals) to enhance the flavour, where the presence of Umami is mild. This in turn raises the question of health, genetic induction, sustenance, agricultural politics and satiation extent.

Umami, Religion, Democracy, Survival, Satiation

works/6e1f06b1efa9c8e348c7f3c53a4b7c47/thumbnail/Food Democracy - Triskaideka13Umami.pdf

Editors comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

This is certainly a short but also unorthodox take on the subject of food democracy. In some places it is also highly poetic and thus even more intriguing.

The reversal of the assertion that we are what we eat and thus the the thought that we may be living in a condition in which we are being consumed by what we eat is, I suppose, fundamental to thinking about issues of food democracy in their broadest sense. That is to say that without the implementation of food democracy we are risking our ongoing survival.

The contrast of the example of the dinner in Paris and Gandhi’s salt march works towards establishing the understanding that the implementation of food democracy can work in two different directions and areas.

The first is more personal and operates in the realm of individual and personal actions. The second is more collective. Both, however, change not just attitudes to food but also to other, and wider, social, cultural, and political, beliefs and patterns. In this way, to tackle the issue of food democracy is indeed to open up questions that concern many different aspects of social life.

Some of these aspects are condensed into a whole paragraph, this then made up out of a series of questions:

“The right to food is a human right – how many in the world have access to it? How many can afford the luxury of selecting the umami factor? What about capitalism in the food industry and the unregulated consumerism? What is happy food – ice cream for lunch if one can afford it or a bowl of boiled rice for those who’ll savour it? Organic or genetic? Real or artificial? Diet, hunger, starvation or famine? Choice, necessity or compulsive consumption?”

Of course, and in relation to the above, umami serves the function of being a concrete concept as well as a metaphor for the dialectic between sensory as well as social taste and deprivation. In addition, I understand, given the sometimes poetic nature of the contribution discussed here, the degree to which it refuses closure.

Nonetheless, my obvious question to the specific questions raised in the paragraph quoted above would be: what are some possible and more concrete answers that can be formulated and offered in relation to these questions?

If some tentative answers are related to democracy and the monopoly of a basic human necessity, how can both, practically and in continuation, nonetheless be changed so as to ensure that the right to food is actually observed as a human right and not as one that is, in many places around the world, observed either in the breach or as a condition in which many are eating themselves to death?

View other works commented by Nikolai Jeffs  ››

Other comments

No comments yet

Curators comments

This work has been commented by 1 editor(s):
Nikolai Jeffs go to comments ›

Entry details



Concept author(s)

Veeranganakumari Solanki

Concept author year(s) of birth




Competition category

critical writing

Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Independent art curator and Writer