New exhibition explores our Food Stories

A new exhibition exploring man's relationship with food will open at King's Museum as part of the 2012 British Science Festival.

Food Stories, organised by University of Aberdeen Museums and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, will present a fascinating insight into the way in which cultural differences change what we consider to be edible.

Among the exhibits will be a selection of unusual foodstuffs from around the world and visitors will be asked what they might eat from a 'menu' which includes scorpion lollipops, sea cucumber, beaver, puffer fish and frogs.

Sue Bird, Communications Manager representing the Rowett Institute said the idea of the exhibition is to encourage visitors to think about the things which influence our food choices.

"Food Stories will explore how what we eat affects our culture and how our culture affects what we eat," she added.

"We think we make free choices about food but we don't. What we put on our plates is partly dictated by cultural factors, our socio-economic group, religion and where we live.

"By showing people things which are considered delicacies in other countries – but which most of us wouldn't consider eating – we hope to encourage visitors to think more about why we eat as we do."

Food Stories links to another event organised by the Rowett Institute at the British Science Festival Food Addiction: Fact or Fiction. Running on Wednesday September 5, the debate will consider whether those who eat too much are addicted to food.

Dr Bird added: "There is a great deal of on-going research looking at how areas of our brains such as the hypothalamus control what we eat.

"The exhibition will take things back to the time we switched from a hunter-gather society to one of subsistence farming. This period changed man's diet significantly, increasing reliance on one or two crops. It will also track the changes as we began to import a greater range of foodstuffs and we began to eat for pleasure rather than survival."

Dr Jenny Downes, Curator (Exhibitions and Science), University of Aberdeen Museums, said: 'Food Stories includes fascinating objects from the from the University's collections which demonstrate how our relationship with food has varied in different times and places.. These include forks from Fiji that were once thought to be used by cannibals, and Egyptian food offerings for the dead.

"The exhibition also has strong links to the north-east where food production and fishing have shaped our society."

Food Stories opens at King's Museum, High Street, Old Aberdeen, on September 4 and will run until January. Entry is free of charge. Opening hours are 10am – 4pm Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 10am – 7.30pm Tuesday and 11am-4pm Monday-Friday. In addition the museum will have extra opening hours during British Science Festival week: 10am – 4pm Saturday September 8 as part of the Doors Open weekend, and 10am-4pm Sunday September 9.