The Great British Buffet: 1974 vs. Now

Team Member Names: Melinda Salaman, Ayush Chakravarty, Kate Soule, and Michael Rieker

Audience of the story: focusing on small farmers growing several key food types, such as potatoes, vegetables, etc. Our audience can also be considered to be members of the general public who are interested in learning about different food practices.

Our goal:  educate farmers at a farmers market about the trends in consumption of different key food groups. While overall consumption of produce (writ large) has remained relatively constant in the UK, some categories are faring better (increasing) than others (decreasing). We want farmers to understand where their category lies and walk away with concrete ideas on how to improve or maintain their position.

Who we are in the story: organizing body (of some sort) advocating for farmers’ best interest.

Context of the story: we are presenting a display at a farmer’s market in the United Kingdom. We hope to educate people on food growth, use, and consumption.


The Sketch:

The story we want to tell is that while farmers’ produce has stayed at a relatively level percentage of the UK’s overall consumption (hovering around 50% from 1974 – 2014), there are certain key types of produce that have seen a dramatic decline. We want to draw attention to those groups. We’ll do this through an interactive display: a large tray of food representing each of the different food groups we call out. Each piece of produce represents the consumption of that food type in a particular year.


This interactive display will have farmers participating in telling the story of key groups of produce in the UK. This will be a four stage process in which participants will assess their own ideas about how food consumption has changed in the UK over the past four decades (1974-2014).


  • Stage #1: Show the weekly proportion (in grams) of fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy consumed by people in the UK in 1979. This will be represented by an actual plate of food in front of the participant. The food will be labeled and these labels will have relevant statistics and graphics that help the small farmers to gain a better understanding of the story behind each food group.


  • Stage #2: Have an audience member construct a plate of food on their own using their understanding of what UK residents currently (2014) consume. In other words, we’ll ask the participants at the market to look at a tray of food with different groups of produce, pick up different pieces of produce, and compare consumption in the past to that of the present.


  • Stage #3: Reveal the actual current consumption of different food groups in the United Kingdom by using a third plate that has the correct proportion of food. This will help people to learn about what is actually occurring and how this may differ from their own understanding. ¬†


  • Stage #4: Provide participating members with a pamphlet that helps them to learn more about how consumption patterns of the groups of produce have changed over time. The follow-up pamphlets will emphasize what they can do next: organize politically, increase farm productivity, and diversify crop yields.


We will go through these four stages during our class presentation to show how the idea would work in practice. We also considered weighting the items of food differently and using a scale to show how consumption had changed.

A very similar process could be undertaken with other types of food (such as industrial meat), but we are clearly focusing on produce for this sketch. An alternate idea would be carving the information into the food itself instead of using toothpicks and labels.