Artist Uli Westphal
has amassed a remarkable collection of photographs documenting the "mutatoes
," the anomalous fruits and vegetables that he found at farmers markets. These often strange-shaped and sometimes stranger-tasting foodstuffs awoke Westphal to illusion that he experienced at main stream markets.
The complete absence of botanical anomalies in our supermarkets has caused us to regard the consistency of produce presented there as natural. Produce has become a highly designed, monotonous product. We have forgotten, and in many cases never experienced, the way fruits, roots, and vegetables can actually look (and taste). The Mutato-Project serves to document, preserve and promote these last remainders of agricultural diversity.
The writers at Edible Geography take it further, seeing the project as a startling reminder of how the human food system now hinges on so very few varieties of plants, with many other varieties simply dying out from their lack of use in industrial agriculture.
Though you could leave the politics of farming aside, it makes these photographs less of a goofy display and more of a sad procession. These are strange plants, surely, but they are beautiful in how they stand out from the hum-drum existence of the supermarket. It's disappointing that we have, as a species, apparently become so picky that we can no longer appreciate a curiously-lobed pepper. Personally, I think they look delicious.
(Uli Westphal via PFSK)