Imagine you've been invited to a dinner party in the near future.
The place is a small home along the New England coastline. Not too many years have passed since today, but the world is noticeably different. The Earth is warmer. Sea levels have risen. Ecosystems have changed and society — and the way society feeds itself — has changed with them.
"Flooded" is a project by artist Allie Wist, with photographer Heami Lee, food stylist C.C. Buckley, and prop stylist Rebecca Bartoshesy. As part of the collection, the team combined predictions, scientific research, and art to create a near-future dinner.
This hypothetical dinner party might start with an appetizer: oysters with slippers.
The hosts might dip into the kitchen for soup — mollusks in a broth with mustard greens — and a seaweed and sea kale caesar salad.
Mollusks, which are a relatively easy and sustainable form of protein, might make up a much greater portion of our diet.
Then comes the main course:
Burdock and dandelion root hummus with sunchoke chips...
...hen of the woods mushrooms...
...and jellyfish salad, dressed with mustard, chili, and pickled cucumbers.
It might be uncommon in the current American diet, but jellyfish, cut thin, tastes and feels a bit like noodles.
Throughout, there'd be wine — though not from the vineyards you're familiar with now — and desalinated water.
As the world has become warmer, vineyards will either move north or grow different varietals.
Dessert would be a simple carob agar-agar pudding.
Agar-agar is a gelatin made from algae.
While the futuristic images of "Flooded" might seem dreamlike, there's a serious undertone to this project.
None of these dishes is preposterous. Jellyfish and seaweed are common ingredients in Asian cuisine, for instance, and while they may be a departure from our current mainstays, this is what adaptation could look like.
Red meat and large fish might be rare. Environmentally sensitive crops, like chocolate, might be replaced with hardier fare like carob. A focus on sustainable or restorative agriculture would see more clams, oysters, and seaweed on our tables.
And while certain changes to our diet would be out of our control, that doesn't mean "Flooded" is meant to be gloomy.
“It’s also about our ability to adapt and be creative," says Wist. It's an opportunity to imagine enthusiastic, proactive, and purposeful changes as well.
“Eating seaweed isn’t as terrible as someone might think," says Wist.
The story of how we eat is, in a large way, the story of who we are.
"Eating engages all of our senses, not to mention our memories, our culture, and our identity," says Wist. "We all eat every day, and the fact that it's a part of our daily lives makes us relate to it in a more personal way."
The futuristic dinner party in "Flooded" is only one piece of a larger project, which also includes location photography, writing, and recipes. More information and photos can be found on Allie Wist, Heami Lee, C. C. Buckley, and Rebecca Bartoshesky's websites.