The Civil Appetites

The Civil Appetites is the outcome of a collaboration that took place in the Spring of 2013 between the research and design collective spurse and Megan Charland, as well as regional farmers, gleaners, foragers, hunters, experimental chefs and the pioneering art and performance space: Rochester Contemporary Art Center.

The Civil Appetites is a component of spure’s ongoing Eat Your Sidewalk campaign that explores future food ways and commons. The Civil Appetites consisted of a foraging workshop in and across the urban cartography of downtown Rochester and a meal that radically fuses experimental practices of gathering, cooking, serving and talking.

The foraging workshop provided an opportunity to collectively share the ecological systems of Rochester and pleasurably explore the how we can enter new relationships with these systems via eating. The workshop addressed several key questions: Is it possible to map new habits and ways of being in the city? How can sensing our environment activate non-consumer patterns? Following the workshop spurse hosted a “freegan” picnic at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center with food gleaned from the streets. Through an extensive social media campaign and personal invitations, Megan Charland composed a group of highly invested regional farmers, gleaners, anarchist collectives, experimental cooks and food justice advocates. Dishes ranging from Japanese knotweed chutney to tempura dandelions were served on specialized eating apparatuses that were the result of a collaboration between spurse, the MFA students of SUNY New Paltz and Temple University. During the extensive conversation that followed, this group discussed the emergent potentials of the city and the various practices that it could sustain.