The 2006 Crops of the Americas stamp depicts a cornucopia of imagined pure native vegetables – fruits of a pre-industrial landscape in “Five Different Designs.” This Edenic fi ction resurrects the rhetoric of bounty that legitimized the founding of the nation. A self-adhesive image of produce, the stamp bears comparison to the advisory label affixed to produce. The privilege of circulation purchased vis-à-vis the stamp is impure, subject to the same police technologies as the fruit body – x-ray, irradiation, and customs. At a larger scale, the familiar USDA food pyramid circumscribes desire and proscribes ethical consumption based in nutritional science through posters in schools and medical offi ces, as a PDF on the internet, and in occasional media coverage. Harmonized bodies and diets effect a national subjectivity, wherein caloric and nutrient values extend beyond shelf life into the arena of political capital. The security of the national food supply is transparent to the American way of life.
Jennifer W. Leung is an architect and critic based in Brooklyn, NY. She currently teaches at the Yale School of Architecture.