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  • Elizabeth Radtke
  • Committee: M. Paz Gutierrez | Jill Stoner
  • water + the city

Over the last half century an obesity epidemic has rapidly engulfed America, while concurrently food insecurity (in worst cases hunger) persists, directly resulting in a myriad of diet-related health conditions as well as contributing to overall health. While food insecurity has been a communal issue since the beginning of time, and causes known: lack of resources (capital or natural) equals lack of food, but widespread obesity is a new phenomenon, and what causes it is not so basic. In short, It is the necessary result at the end of the very long industrial food chain in an unaware food culture existent all across America. This food system must change- on a large scale- with a system that can compete with the vastness of the industrial, but with the resilience of an ecosystem. The most robust solution would be not a singular solution, but a multiplicity, variations on a theme with many parts doing similar things, but importantly not the same. This thesis explores what this theme would be exactly, by first researching current food culture, through which the tripartite themes of desire, convenience and affordability repeatedly arose, and became the lenses to explore and evaluate the thesis explorations.

In order to try to address as many of the issues with the entirety of the food system as possible -obesity, community food security, fossil fuel reliance, food quality, education, awareness, I am directed to the scale of the community, the neighborhood, and to the multiplicity of points within which the industrial food chain meets the individual person: the foodstuff market, or the convenience store. Thus, the point of departure is the development of an architecture that hybridizes the convenience store and the farm, bringing real food into our lives of convenience, in turn making real food itself convenient. The variations on the theme are the manifestations of a recipe for convenience store farms. The recipe always includes a convenience store as site and inserts walls for growing. The walls are determined by the climate and cuisine by choosing a handful of main ingredients for a simple dish and forming the walls around those crops, of which there is at least one substance (fruit or vegetable) element and one flavor (herb) element. In effect this is also a project about (re)acquainting the people with the crops best suited to a particular climate, in celebration of that nexus where society and nature meet, in celebration of local cultures and place making through food.