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Periodic tables; The Micro-politics of nutrition - Anastasia Kubrak

Nutrition has always been tied to questions of productivity and efficiency of the human body. Already in the late 19th century, the concept of the calorie has shaped popular imagination, conceptualising the human body as a machine that requires energy to perform physical work.

Today, growing interest in the role of micronutrients (minerals, vitamins and trace elements) has led to further optimisation of human health and performance. Yet, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency—from zinc to magnesium to Vitamin-D and Omega-3—remains a drastic issue in many low-income countries, and their side effects continue to devastate populations though the so-called hidden hunger. Even the richest countries are affected by this malaise due to the simple lack of awareness.

From popular culture to propaganda, from humanitarian campaigns to marketing stunts, this course will explore the social construction of narratives around (micro)nutrients. Together we’ll look into the changing perceptions of what is considered essential, from individual metabolism to geopolitics of production and distribution of inequalities. Departing from the Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of Elements, we will collectively reimagine this iconic image and develop a series of alternative tables—that better represent the hidden diets and (hi)stories of nutrition.

Contact

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Bente Meindertsma

Netherlands Food Partnership

bmeindertsma@nlfoodpartnership.com