Cayuga Museum Seeks Input On Food Exhibit

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2011NEWLOGOThe Cayuga museum of History and Art, in Auburn, NY, is working on a new exhibit based on the story of food in their community. Breaking Bread: Food, Culture and What’s on Your Plate will explore the history, culture and politics of food, and celebrate the myriad ways food brings people together.

Ranging from the three-in-one-field farming system that the earliest settlers copied from the Iroquois to the emerging trends of the Eat Local and Farm to Table movements, Breaking Bread is expected to explore food both historically and currently, politically and socially.

Just a few of the many topics to be explored are farming and hunting practices, the science and romance of raising heirloom plants and animals, and the evolution of food technology. From the huge technological advances in producing food, to the myriad improvements in preparing food in home kitchens, a number of food-related devices will be on display.

Tens of thousands of immigrants relocated to central New York throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. They brought their own food traditions and eating those foods served and continues to serve as a way to maintain cultural identity. As later generations assimilated into mainstream American society, the foods of the old country migrated out of grandmas’ kitchens and into restaurants. Asian, Italians, Polish, and Ukrainian restaurants became common. After time, what were once considered ethnic specialties became commonplace in neighborhood groceries. Breaking Bread will explore food as culture, a tool of both maintaining ethnic background and aiding assimilation. A website is planned for posting favorite ethnic family recipes, and stories associated with them.

According to a NYS Department of Health 2013 report, nearly 22% of school-age children in Cayuga County are obese. Breaking Bread will explore the issues — cultural, industrial, and societal — that surround both hunger and obesity in the community.

The Cayuga Museum is seeking objects, photographs, documents and stories that help illustrate the story of food in the community. Antique kitchen implements, farming tools, recipes, hunting artifacts – and the stories that go with them – can help bring this exhibit to life. The goal of Breaking Bread: Food, Culture and What’s on your Plate is to make visitors think about food as something more than a means of assuaging hunger.

If you have a food-related object, or a story to share, call Cayuga Museum Director Eileen McHugh or Curator Kirsten Wise at 315 253-8051. All loaned objects are secured, covered by the Cayuga Museum’s insurance, and will be returned at the end of the exhibit.

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