Food Planet Future

May 22, 2024 – January 12, 2025

When I sit down to eat a meal, I want to know that the food on my plate hasn’t been grown at the expense of the planet. It’s ironic that the mere act of feeding ourselves every day tethers us to agricultural systems that wreak chaos on ecosystems and the climate. But there are ways to grow food that regenerate the earth. These immense, portentous stories must be told, and I’m inspired to do so with art, by zooming in to the tiniest views of food that I can imagine. Awe and wonder feed the human spirit. They’re nourishment we need to help us face ecological breakdown, and to work to reverse it.

Food Planet Future uses art to reimagine the tangled crises of food security, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Over nearly six years, I’ve explored hundreds of foods and inedible items, some from animals, most from plants; I’m drawn to those with spectacular artistic appeal and a significant story related to climate change and ecosystem health. I employ photomontage to blend scanning electron microscope (SEM) micrographs of pollen, seeds, leaves, and other elements with macro photographs, creating a surreal conversation between a food or other object and microscopic parts of itself.

Much like the plant and animal tinkerers who have shaped our diets by selecting and combining favourable traits over thousands of years, these images are cultivars, with metaphor, fact, humour, story, surrealism, and environmental commentary.

– Robert Dash

Robert Dash is an award-winning photographer and educator who uses a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to highlight foods, pollen, seeds, and other subjects with significant climate and biodiversity stories. His photographs have been published by National Geographic, TIME, Lenswork, and Buzzfeed. Dash’s SEM micrographs of plants were featured in the February, 2022 issue of National Geographic, with two of his images included in its  “Best Science Photos of 2021.” Dash is a member of The Photo Society, a network of National Geographic-published photographers.