American photographer Peter Augustus has created a series of images that may change how you look at processed food and help you resist the siren call of snacking. Important images for the Middle East, where fast-food is one of the leading commercial growth sectors with junk-food-mad consumers ballooning apace with corporate profits.
I knew a woman who dropped 30 pounds taking a cue from a character in the Wally Lamb bestseller, She’s Come Undone. She imagined a thin layer of slimy mold on everything she wished to not eat – instantly killing her appetite. These pictures have the same effect.
In his latest (and ongoing) project entitled “Mystery Meat,” the Hong Kong-based artist presents popular fast-food items (such as the pork burger, hot dog, ham sandwich and chicken nuggets depicted here) substituting the processed end products with their original ingredients.
He says relocating from the US to Asia changed his thinking about food. “Arriving in Hong Kong for the first time, a city overloaded with visual stimulation, one of the most impactful scenes for me was the meat shops found in my neighborhood of Sai Ying Pun,” he told The Huffington Post.
“[In the West] most of us seldom see anything that even closely represents what kind of animal we are eating when we purchase it — it is always prepackaged, nice and neat, showcased in an air-conditioned supermarket. Being forced to pass by these meat shops on a daily basis with their pig heads, intestines, eyeballs and hearts hung on hooks out in the open led me to challenge myself to view these shops as a normal place where actual food was being sourced every day, that ended up in my meal at a local restaurant.”
Augustus says he hopes to explore the disconnect between people and the food we consume. His aim is to challenge viewers to think twice about where their meal has come from. “[With these photos] I hope to cause the viewer to take into account what the natural form of their food looks like. I think the work highlights a number of important debates, and it is not meant to be repulsive — just to raise awareness,” he said. “It also touches on the longstanding debate of the quality of chicken and meat products and the use of unnatural fillers and hormones in the animal products we eat daily.”
Green Prophet consistently covers subjects of healthy eating and Big Food. We’ve brought you stories on expansive cattle feedlots that stain the earth with bloody lakes – visible from satellites and recorded on Google maps – and reports on processed pink slime made from the byproducts of butchery. (If only the rest of human waste streams were as efficiently “upcycled”!)
Don’t be duped by processing and final presentation. Find out where and how your food is sourced. Moderate changes in how we eat can have large impact on our health and the well-being of our planet. Be more conscious about what goes on your plate.
All images by Peter Augustus