Food for Thought was a two-year program that examined and celebrated the ways food has helped define Indiana’s culture. Topics included agriculture, culinary history, ethnic identity, food production and technology, food safety and security, hunger, nutrition and obesity.
Held in 2010 and 2011, Food for Thought featured multiple components. The largest was an interactive traveling exhibit designed to educate Hoosiers about local and global food issues, increase awareness about Indiana’s rich agricultural history and stimulate conversation among visitors. Fitting the program’s theme, the exhibit traveled to food festivals and related gatherings around the state, including the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival (Indianapolis), Frankfort Hot Dog Festival, Mitchell Persimmon Festival, North Judson Mint Festival, Parke County Covered Bridge Festival (Rockville), Pierogi Fest (Whiting) and the Indiana State Fair.
Food for Thought also included a series of conversations about food. One of these programs was Chew on This, which convened guests at several restaurants on the same night across the state to discuss food-related topics. Another conversation-based event was “An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert.” Held at Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis, this sold-out show featured the two celebrity chefs and authors covering issues such as hunger, diversity, globalization and agriculture.
In 2011, Food for Thought received the Schwartz Prize from the Federation of State Humanities Councils. It was the second time an Indiana Humanities program won this award, which is given to the best public humanities project in the nation. An important factor in this decision was the council’s collaboration with a diverse set of program partners, including Indiana’s Family of Farmers (presenting sponsor), Spirit & Place Festival (program co-collaborator) and IUPUI’s Herron School of Art and Design (traveling exhibit designers).
Indiana Humanities partnered with more than 50 organizations during Food for Thought’s run, which was one of the highest numbers of collaborators for a single program in the organization’s history. The success of these partnerships completely changed the way the council collaborated with other organizations and continues to influence how it develops its current thematic programming.