Connected Communities

Hacking the Global Food System

Barcodes have come to represent the facelessness of globalisation, where every item, no matter where it is from, or how it was made, can be reduced to a series of numbers and entered into a universal database. However, with the launch of the Mr Seel’s Garden app, these barcodes will be hacked and haunted with the memories of Liverpool’s past.

The barcodes on all food packaging are linked to a Universal Product Code database that gives information on what a product is. Supermarkets use these codes to access details about a product including its price. When you scan a product with the Mr Seel App it links to our database of archive material and stories that were gathered by volunteer researchers and describe how food was grown, cooked and eaten in the past. Just as the local food movement is transforming the global food system, our app transforms Universal Product Codes into Local Memory Codes which uncover our local food heritage.

In an era of cloud-computing, where everything is available everywhere, the Mr Seel app localises or ‘territoralises’ the cloud so that local memories are only available in the city where they were created and collected by our volunteers. Our local app will work only when you are actually in Liverpool. If you are within 20 miles of the three gardens that were the focus on the project: Everton Park, Sudley Estate and Mr Seel’s Garden in the city centre, the user will receive specific stories collected at each site.

The Mr Seel’s app is part of a range of creative tactics produced by the project team to engage Liverpudlians with the rich history of local food in the city and to encourage questions about how our food systems might be transformed in the future.

The app will be launched at Liverpool’s LightNight event where venues across the city open after-hours, with a range of special interactive programmes to tie in with this year’s theme of Memory. Come see us from 6-8pm.