The Future is Nutty: Balanoculture for the World

by Jane Zhang (MDes '17)

It takes an Oak tree on average 30 years to begin bearing palatable fruit. Thus by planting an acorn today, one would help enable a renaissance in balanoculture (the cultivation of oaks for sustenance) by 2047. Environmental science tells us that oak trees are useful for sequestering carbon; cultural history shows us 11,000 years of lifeways that civilizations across temperate regions have built around acorns and Oak trees. In 2047, the wisdom of indigenous peoples and elders will form the basis for tacit knowledge around the world, and communities will be seamlessly connected both physically and virtually. Now that the vast majority of humans can afford and access nutritious food for subsistence, eating becomes a question of social experience and a hence a major domain of design. What might our Earth look, feel, and taste like in 30 years? This project, narrated in the form of a children’s story, reimagines our common future through food, extending past culinary traditions and today’s technological allowances.