• Food: For Thought, For Life

    Mississippi has a rich culinary heritage stretching from the Gulf coast to the Delta that contributes to the unique identity of the state. A diverse agricultural history, ready access to game and fresh water fishing, and a thriving seafood industry combine with diverse ethnic origins, long-standing social traditions, and a broad spectrum of religious and cultural practices, to weave food deeply into the fabric of our culture. Yet, intertwined with this heritage are alarming health statistics that affect the lives of an increasing number of our citizens. Specifically, Mississippi continues to be the most obese state in the nation (USDA 2011). Despite consistently high obesity rates, Mississippi residents also exhibit increasing rates of food insecurity (Coleman-Jensen et al. 2012) or those individuals who have nutritionally inadequate diets and whose access to safe food is limited and uncertain. Such poor health statistics combine with ethical and cultural practices to create a complex and often paradoxical food environment within Mississippi.

    To foster public dialogue on complicated food issues in Mississippi, the UMMC Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities (CBMH) in collaboration with the Mississippi Humanities Council has created a traveling panel exhibit focused on the intricate mosaic of food, health, and culture. The exhibit, titled Food: For Thought, For Life, explores 10 significant food-related topics, each topic developed by food scholars and activists from across the state and presented in a pair of stand-alone panels. The panels are displayed in Mississippi public and community college libraries on a subscription basis and rotate monthly. Additional handout materials, suggestions for speakers, and other resources accompany each panel pair to promote community engagement and encourage an in-depth examination of the ethics and culture of food.

    Considerations for subscribing libraries:

    • Exhibit display:
      Each topic is explored across two complementary panels, which are designed to be displayed together. Individual panels measure approximately 36” x 92” and subscribing libraries need enough display area to accommodate both panels standing side-by-side. In addition, panels should be displayed in high traffic areas to maximize viewing. Subscribing libraries are encouraged to develop creative displays to accompany each panel topic, including such things as related books, handout materials, decorations, and other resources. 
    • Library responsibilities:
      Each participating library will receive two panels and retractable stands in the mail from the UMMC Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities (CBMH). Libraries will display each panel pair on its accompanying stand in a high traffic area for approximately 4 weeks. At the end of the viewing period and once the library receives the next panel pair installment, a library will (1) take down the current display; (2) ship the current display to the next designated library in a pre-paid postage envelope provided by the CBMH; and (3) display the newly received panel pair. This process will be completed for each panel pair until the completion of the series. Additionally, subscribing libraries will be asked to evaluate each display after its viewing period and the overall project at the end of the subscription period.

    Panel subscriptions

    We have currently reached our maximum number of subscriptions. To be placed on our waiting list or for further information, please contact Dr. Caroline Compretta.