Tan, who was born in Malaysia and moved to New York in 2000, calls himself a “social sculpture artist” who collaborates with the public around ecology, food and urban agriculture issues. He has studied permaculture and composting, and since 2010, he has been raising egg-laying hens in his backyard.
As Tan started plotting how to design food for climate emergencies, he spotted a surplus in the food system: ugly vegetables too misshapen or mottled for farmers to sell. He rescued the vegetables from a local market, and began to dehydrate them in a dehydrator and experiment with recipes. Then he vacuum-sealed them so they would last for up to a year.
“Dedrydrating food is actually an old technology, developed before we had refrigeration,” says Tan. “I’m using a contemporary version of it, because once again we might need it in case of emergency.”
His concoctions, which he calls New Earth – Meals Ready to Eat, include dehydrated bits of potato, coconut milk and oregano, which, with a little hot water, can be reconstituted into a flavorful version of mashed potatoes. Another is the apple sauce and prosciutto, with dried apple and ham. (He wasn’t offering samples when The Salt visited his studio.)
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