As we hurtle through the 21st century and the world’s population continues to push toward 7 billion, the question on everyone’s mind is, “how are we going to safely and sustainably feed all of these people?” This year’s world’s fair theme addresses this very subject with the Expo Milan 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, which “will provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and seek solutions to, the contradictions of our world.On the one hand, there are still the hungry, and, on the other, there are those who die from ailments linked to poor nutrition or too much food. In addition, about 1.3 billion tons of foods are wasted every year.” The Milan Expo will run from May 1 through October 31.
The USA Pavilion, led by the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center, will contribute a stunning display of exhibits. It will feature the largest vertical farm in the world, decorated with hanging vegetable chandeliers that people can touch, and paved with the salvaged original Coney Island boardwalk. There will also be a rooftop terrace and café.
“We are trying to do multiple things with the pavilion. We want to look at how we, as a country, are moving the needle forward on growing sustainable food and feeding the world,” said Dorothy Hamilton, president of the ICC and of the USA Pavilion. “We will also be talking about nutrition and technology policy. We will be showing the multifaceted face of American agriculture and how we are responsible as custodians of the Earth.”
But visitors can’t talk about food issues on an empty stomach. To satisfy the American palate, the team will also be showing off a fleet of food trucks serving barbecue, lobster rolls, tacos, and hamburgers. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, guest chefs like Rick Bayless will be cooking at an off-site restaurant for Expo Milan run by the James Beard Foundation. There will also be events celebrating the American Thanksgiving meal, the craft beer movement, and Italian American cuisine.
“I’ve always been troubled by the term melting pot; American cuisine is more like a patchwork quilt,” said chef Norman Van Aken, who is part of the American pavilion team. “The goal is to show the rest of the world the diversity of America through its regional foods, from a bowl of chili from Texas to the seafood in Florida. We want to show that we put a whole lot of thought into respecting the heritage of our food and that Yankee spirit of inventiveness that’s part of our DNA.”