Did you know that one third of all food produced in the world each year gets wasted? That is 1.3 billion tonnes. Did you know that it takes to make a litre of beer, it takes 75 litres of water, a kilo of coffee 140 litres of water, 1 kilo of eggs 3,300 litres of water, 1 kilo of wheat 1,ooo litres of water and 1 kg of beef 16,000 litres of water?
You can learn about food at the very interesting Antwerp à la carte exhibition on the 5th floor of the MAS museum in the city of Antwerp.
The exhibition promises to give you a tasty history of the city but it also opens your eyes to some of the most important contemporary issues relating to food.
As you enter the exhibition space, you will be provoked by an art installation by Thomas Rentmeister which depicts a supermarket shopping trolley nearly completely covered in sugar. That’s a provocation about the amount of sugar we find in processed products we buy from supermarkets nowadays but it is also eye-opening.
How do we feed the world population, over half of which lives in cities today. The exhibition looks at how we manage to do this now, what will we do in future and asks whether the past can offer any inspiration.
Take the local food movement. In the exhibition you can see how Antwerp’s food supply has evolved from 1550 to the 1900s and today. While in 1550, most of the meat fish and vegetables were local or from neighbouring regions, that evolved completely and now the majority of the food supplies come from more than 10,000 kilometres away.
Throughout the exhibition you can follow the hidden traces of food throughout the city of Antwerp, learning about how ingredients and flavours reached the port city of Antwerp from local as well as overseas rural areas from the 16th century.
In the Middle Ages many gardens and cattle sheds were to be found within the city’s walls. Farming in the city started to decline in the 16th century. In the 19th century, this all changed with industrialisation. Steam boats, lorries with refrigeration and containers brought food in faster and from further away and the origins of food became less lear.
We are today realising that food transport adversely affects the climate. Will we return to shorter distances?
The exhibition provides a lot of food for thought and is highly recommended if you are interested in the subject of food and cities as well as the future.
On top of that you will also gain access to all the exhibition spaces of the building including a splendid view of the city of Antwerp and its port from the top floor.
Throughout the building, at the moment, you will find an exhibition called “The corner shop” which highlights the colourful history of Antwerp’s shops and shopkeepers in the MASboulevard. The MAS asked the photographer Sanne De Wilde to find out more about the people who run local shops in the city today. The result is a colourful and diverse portrait series. Combined with old photos, the exhibition shows the human face behind the corner shops of the city since the 1950s.
The MAS building radiates water. You notice that as soon as you approach the museum; rippling glass, reflections in the water, and on the roof you can see how the Scheldt River connects Antwerp to the world. It is also a huge, contemporary storehouse inspired by the 19th-century depots that are typical of this neighbourhood. The Boulevard leads you past all the galleries. Along the way you’ll discover the giant mosaic by Luc Tuymans on the museum square.
Make this a place to visit on your next trip to Antwerp.
Antwerp à la carte | On Cities and food
- Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
- Tickets: 10 / 8 euros
- This ticket gives you access to all MAS exhibitions.
- There are also temporary exhibition spaces so check these out before your visit.