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Feast Your Eyes: A Tree Made from Sausages

Vintage photos from a food and agriculture trade show capture today's innovations—vertical farming and fruit-vending machines—yesterday.

This tree made of sausages was "the main attraction" at the 1976 "Internationale Grüne Woche" exhibition in Berlin. The trade show, which still takes place at the end of January every year, bills itself as the world's biggest fair for food, agriculture, and horticulture.

This vertical greenhouse from 1966 was apparently "a space-saving sensation," with a built-in automatic elevator to rotate crops. Eat your heart out, Dickson Despommier!

Earlier still, in 1962, the show saw the debut of the automated apple vending machine with the tagline "One a Day." Apple vending machines saw a brief burst of popularity in the sixties, and are only just beginning to be reintroduced to schools and businesses as part of a move to combat childhood obesity.

This year, "crocodile meat on skewers" from Rwanda was a big hit with visitors, while "refreshing cocktails made with black maize" were "the success story on the Peruvian national stand." The Romanians contributed plum puree for diabetics, the Latvian stand offered birch sap jam, and master baker Karl-Dietmar Plentz from Schwante in Brandenburg presented a 6-foot-long loaf of high-fibre bread.

As intriguing as this year's specialties sound, however, I'm particularly taken with the archive photos (visit Strange Harvest for more, including an incredible display of antlers). There's something wonderful about seeing ideas that are still talked about as the "future of food"—vertical farming and fresh fruit vending machines—captured in vintage black and white. Meanwhile, as architect and blogger Sam Jacob points out, these displays perfectly capture "the inherently artificial nature of agriculture and food production—the fact that food is a 'design' product, rather than nature's bounty."

Archive photos via Strange Harvest; Peruvian cocktails from the "Internationale Grüne Woche" website.

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