Before the 1950’s, Americans had a much closer relationship with their food in terms of how it was acquired and how it was prepared. Today, with the transition to large-scale corporate farming and the loss of the small local farm, the average American has little or no first-hand experience with the types of animals regularly consumed. My experience, like most Americans, is narrowed to the refrigerated and packaged forms found in supermarket meat departments. In this setting, the product becomes so removed from its source that it’s easy to forget where it comes from, how it got there, and how the modern drive for efficiency, appeal and value affects the relationship we have with our food.
I can go to a supermarket anywhere in the country and packaged meat will look the same. It’s an engineered product, standardized in size and color and processed in assembly line fashion. It lies on a Styrofoam tray surrounded by colorful plastic. The pink skin and muscle look smooth and uniform and each piece of meat seems identical to the next. I am not confronted with a sense of loss or sacrifice. Because of this, I’ve often thought of the supermarket meat department as a somewhat surreal environment, a strange yet attractive world where the realities of life and death are softened or left unrevealed. My work in this series tries to explore this experience as well as illustrate why this disconnection occurs.