The Sandwich Project

  • How far does your sandwich travel before it reaches you? 
  • How many ingredients make up your average sandwich? 
  • How much of your sandwich is made up of ‘real food’ and how much it is manufactured ingredients, made to taste like ‘real food’?
  • How many planes, boats and trucks are involved? 
  • How many women, men and children are involved in picking vegetables and minding animals around the world? 
  • What conditions do the animals live in? 
  • Is there really such a thing as ‘cheap food’?

 Artist Lisa Fingleton lives on a farm in Kerry and grows most of her own food. A few years, she was hungry while installing an exhibition. She picked up a BLT sandwich in a petrol station and while she was eating, she read the packaging. She couldn’t believe that there were over 40 ingredients listed including such things as Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, xanthum gum, emulsifier and stabilisers. She started to think about the journey of a sandwich and where all these ingredients come from.

According to the artist “It felt like this sandwich connected me to so many places, people, plants and animals from all over the planet. I started to think about the energy needed to bring this sandwich to me; all the electricity, fuel and water. I had been to Borneo and seen the destruction of the rainforest with palm oil plantations and here was palm oil in my sandwich”.

Lisa started to draw the journey of the sandwich and all the different processes involved. She also started facilitating workshops and conversations with community groups. “I love food and hope the sandwich project encourages people to have a better appreciation of clean, healthy food. There really is no such thing as ‘cheap’ food. Someone, somewhere is paying the price in terms of poor conditions for workers, crowded conditions for battery hens or health implications for the consumers of processed foods”.

The Sandwich Project was originally showcased at VISUAL, Carlow in summer 2018, co- curated with Steven Alwyn. Images: Ros Kavanagh.

In 2022 the Crawford Gallery commissioned the artist to recreate the Sandwich project as part of the new Meat and Potatoes Exhibition incorporating current issues relating to the war in Ukraine, Brexit and climate change.

The Sandwich Project featured on the new RTE series called Food Matters: Follow the Seasons. Series presenter and GIY founded Mike Kelly visited Lisa at her studio at The Barna Way to discuss the 30 Day Local Food Challenge and The Sandwich Project.