A Bite of Extinction

A Bite of Extinction
Section, A Bite of Extinction, May 2023.
Reconstruction of Biodiversity and Neighbourhood through Flavour Diversity

Carla Rotenberg
Madrid, Spain
Team members
Carla Rotenberg
Field of work
Design, Ecology, Visual Art, Research, Other
Project category
Food system
Project submitted

I am a Spanish/German holistic designer, interested in strategy, spatial research and visual design, specifically in relation to the food system. Having grown up between Spain and Germany, I recently graduated with a Bachelor in Design from IE University in Madrid and Northeastern University in Boston. My final project "A Bite of Extinction" received the Best Final project Award, while I myself was lucky to receive the best student award for the degree. Additional learning experiences for me have been the invitation to the Design Nation Conference 2022 by Princeton University, Formafantasma's summer school "School of the Untold" in Dresden and the "London's Belly" program at the Architectural Association in London. My professional experience focuses of consulting, research and branding for the food industry, I enjoy entering ping-pong-like conversations on design and architecture, cooking and meeting new people who I can learn from.

"A Bite of Extinction" focuses on the alarming decline of food diversity, as local foods disappear from plates, memories and fields.
Amidst a vast selection of international foods, the loss of ingredients and nutrients in modern diets goes unnoticed. The homogenisation of the global culinary and agricultural landscape, leads to a loss of seed biodiversity needed for a sustainable food system. According to FAO from the +6000 known food crops, only 1200 have survived the last century. 200 are used in modern food production, but only 9 are responsible for more than half of global calories. The biggest hotspots of biodiversity now are seed banks, inaccessible and mysterious.
Focusing on the Madrid Region, this project analyzes the complexities of the food system, specifically studying the tomato, one of the most globalised, diversified and homogenised foods in the world. This research entails scientific and historical documents, sight visits and expert interviews from various fields. Through design and insights different players in the food industry; scientists, farmers, cooks, and consumers, are connected to inspire action, and awareness.
The proposal involves the rehabilitation of an historically important and abandoned space in Madrid: the old Fruit and Vegetable Market of Legazpi, and transform it into a hub for science, agriculture and consumers. This space would promote exchange, education and the rediscovery of forgotten flavors. The reimagined "seed bank" will not only store seeds but also foster their growth, utilization in scientific research, education, consumption, and appreciation – while generating a constant flow of new seeds.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a profitable hub with various revenue channels and a competitive advantage for Madrid, while offering insights applicable to foods at risk of extinction worldwide.
While still conceptual, this project is advised by IMIDRA, Madrid’s institute for agricultural-rural research and development.