MD/NY partner Staten Island Arts’ ongoing exhibition Tattfoo Tan: New Earth MRE is profiled by Fast Company…
Tan greets guests for the opening of his latest work in a khaki shirt, cargo pants, and a flint striker on his belt loop. For someone who has spent much of the past two years training himself in disaster preparedness, Tan appears upbeat, and smiles warmly as he introduces guests to several large, military-grade cargo boxes of dehydrated food under a tarp.
These are meals Tan’s prepared himself, first by sneaking food waste from an undisclosed grocery store, cooking the ingredients, drying the results, and packaging them to last. “MRE” stands for Meals Ready to Eat, and Tan stores them in medical cases he bought from Iraq war veterans on eBay. He started building his collection of MRE’s in 2012, but for the next two months he’s showing them as part of his New Earth collection, a series of projects meant to raise ecological consciousness. By combining food waste issues with disaster relief, Tan hopes that his MRE’s, which recently won a Core77 design award, will help educate the public on multiple aspects of food security. He plans on teaching MRE classes himself at the local Port Richmond high school….
But as far as disaster preparedness goes, urban gardening and creative takes on freeganism are a far cry from the preppers hosting conferences on the apocalypse and stocking up on canned sandwiches. “That’s not my theory of preparedness. Preparedness is staying healthy, or understanding food that you could pick up from trees or plants that are edible,” Tan says. “I try to stay positive, not try to be a worst-case scenario person. For me, it’s not about the future but what we do now.”