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MSU Museum's 'Food Fight!' exhibit brings unique meaning to dinner table discussion

January 12, 2024
<p>MSU Museum staff speak to attendees of the Food Fight exhibition reception.</p>

MSU Museum staff speak to attendees of the Food Fight exhibition reception.

Photo by Daniel Schoenherr | The State News

The Michigan State University Museum was buzzing with people as it unveiled its newest exhibition, Food Fight!, Thursday night.

The project started as an open call to creatives with one goal in mind: produce an interactive piece that inspires conversation about food production and security.

The exhibition hall was soon filled with a colorful turtle statue, a dinner table covered with mushrooms, video displays and a record made of cow’s blood playing the sound of a heartbeat. These exhibits were a result of collaboration with makers worldwide, spanning from as far as Austria to as close as students here at MSU.

Public Programming Manager Abbie Stevens said this exhibition did something truly unique—it didn’t only collaborate with the creatives behind exhibits, but also brought visitors into the conversation.

“I hope it inspires us to think more deeply and engage on multiple levels with something that's just an everyday part of life, but it can be a lot more than that,” Stevens said.

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MSU Museum student curator and biosystems engineering senior, Ben Adams, presents a piece of the Food Fight exhibition to an attendee.

The exhibition uses the CoLaborator Program, a team made up of trained undergraduate and graduate students stationed around each exhibit to provide context and spur discussion.

CoLaborator and junior philosophy major Sydney Urbaniak said she enjoyed the "playfulness" of their position.

“My job is really fun,” Urbaniak said. “I get to play around with people— so like they come in and they bring their own perspective to the table so we can kind of go back and forth. We somehow end up on conversations that you never would have thought you would end up with.”

Whether it be examining the use of GMOs or considering the amount of food waste before the market, deriving one's own meaning from these pieces was an intentional part of Food Fight!

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MSU Museum curator and biosystems engineering senior, Ben Adams, presents a piece of the Food Fight exhibition to an attendee.

Detroit poet and activist Natasha T. Miller performed at the event. To her, food was about showing care. 

“For me, I think food is love," Miller said. “I think that when people feed you, the most important thing that they're saying is that, 'I want you here and I want you alive.'”

Miller said having a space to showcase sustainable food methods was important and helped foster community.

In the back of the gallery sat a room called the Food Fight! Commons. It encourages visitors to express what food means to them on a white board before they leave. In addition to scheduled events, groups can apply to use the space for discussion around the exhibit’s subjects. More information about the exhibit can be found on the MSU Museum’s website.

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A piece of MSU Museum's Food Fight exhibit displays how food decomposes after disposal through fungi and active compost tubs with worms.

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