Today I introduced LM to the images of Liu Bolin, the Invisible Man. Liu Bolin is a Chinese Artist who paints himself into background scenes. His work is astonishing. It led to a long conversation about patience and detail and persistence. But the reason that I introduced his work was because of the above image of Liu painted into a wall of sugary soft drinks.
I wanted to have a discussion about the nature of shopping and how once upon a time there were vast cultural differences in the types of foods we ate as well as in the way we purchased them.
I asked LM to research the way different countries bought and sold food and what they ate. She was shocked to find that they look very similar when you type in the search term ‘supermarkets in France’. So, I suggested she use a different word search. When she searched ‘markets…’ she found far more variations. She found whole alligators for sale in Cina. She found beautiful outdoor markets on the beach in Fiji. She found spice stalls in India. She found mountains of cheese for sale in New York. It was so much more exciting and enticing.
We decided a visit to our local supermarket was in order. Our supermarket was once proudly, locally owned but now it is owned by someone from Canberra that owns a bunch of them… and it feels that way. Very generic and unhealthy. Luckily they do have lovely local staff though!
I set LM the task of buying a range of relatively healthy foods (that she would like to eat) from within the masses of unhealthy food.
First I taught her how to read the packaging, we focused on sugar content and began by comparing breakfast cereals. We discussed how many of the products that marketed themselves as ‘healthy’ options actually had incredibly high sugar content. She was shocked at how high some were.
I also have her a budget of $40 for the shop so she had to learn how to ’round’ prices to make them easier to add up. And how to find the best prices by looking at the cost per 100g that is written on the lower left of the tag. We were there for ages – they are used to us though.
LM was surprised that after choosing only three items (potatoes, apples and corn) she had already spent half her budget! She did manage to fill a small basket with a total spend of $39.50.
We finally toddled home so she could learn to make her favourite dish, Shepherds Pie. She did the lot, learning about seasonings and flavouring as she went.
And we didn’t disappear into a wall of sugar like Liu.