Mealscapes: landscape photos made from food

Carl Warner is a photographer who creates elaborate, fanciful landscapes out of food ("mealscapes") which often make their way into commercial advertisements. They're really outstanding work, and manage to look idyllic as well as entertaining.

Landscapes of the meal (Thanks, Boris!)


    1. OK, listen, I know there are people with very good reasons to abhor wasting food and no one thinks it’s a good idea.  I’m with you on that.  But Cory found this interesting enough to post, so he posted it.  The alternative to that would be not posting it: in other words, providing less content.  It’s a neat concept, even if it’s a stupid thing to do. 

      So do you think, maybe once in a while, we could let a few people enjoy the link before berating them for ever tolerating that not everyone always cleans their plate? 

    2. Yeah, and the crayon industry is wasting all of that wax that could be used in candles to light houses, houses WITH CHILLLLLDREN, where there is no electricity. Oh the humanity.

  1. I was looking at the Habibi article when the image for this popped up.  It’s somehow appropriate to think of a dystopian Islamic world as made of bacon. 

  2. First of all, great work by Carl. 

    Second of all, the people constantly tut-tutting food wasting are ignorant of what happens at the end of the night at restaurants, and each morning at grocery stores. The small amount of food used by artists to create is ridiculously tiny in comparison to what happens in the real world.

    1. So if some people, who are are trying to feed other people, waste food — that’s justification for a supposed artist to waste food for fun?      Two wrongs don’t make a right.   And really — slowly decomposing pork fat isn’t as pretty as one might think.  Yuck.  

  3. His work is really amazing, I’m always blown away by the attention to detail and how much he accomplishes with just food, but I’m always really squicked by it too. There’s just something so primally off-putting about a landscape of raw bacon (more than just it’s a world of treyf :)) I think it’s because I can imagine exactly how it would feel to touch such a world. On the subject of food wasting. I would hazard a guess that these works are constructed from product that has been removed from the shelves for passing the sell by date, and just making an artistic pit-stop on the way to the landfill.

    1. Who would take food that has passed the sell by date and work with it for hours under hot lights? And expect it to look good? I don’t think so. The work is amazing, you’re right about that.

      1. This was certainly not done under hot lights – perhaps photographed that way, but not constructed. The bacon fat would not still be white if if had been warmed up. He most likely built it (and probably photographed it) in a cooler. I did a little food styling for photo shoots, and you’d be amazed at how fast a nice yellow banana will get brown spots under hot lights.

        I understand the concern about waste, but you could probably pick almost any one restaurant, and it will throw away more food in a year than all the food photography put together.

        1. This was certainly not done under hot lights

          Why would you use hot lights for a photo shoot when you can fix the color in Photoshop?

  4. Saying this is a waste of food is like saying painting a picture is a waste of paint because someone could have used it to paint a house.
    The food was bought for the purpose of making art, then disposed of. it surved a purpose, just not the purpose most people would have used it for; that’s what makes the concept so interesting and unique. 
    That it’s done so well, by a talented artist, makes it less or a waste of food than if it was done by someone less talented.

    An aside: I can only imagine the smell of the studio after all that’s been sitting under the hot lights for a while!

      1. If you want to get technical, lack of paint can collapse a house or sink a ship.  It’s not just to make things look pretty.  That said, food is clearly a greater need.

  5. We’d found ourselves thrust into a nightmare world where there was always something to eat.

    There was nothing else to do in this realm besides eat, and look for a way back home.  We’d stopped to take a rest from our seemingly fruitless search — I’d resigned myself to blankly gnawing on the shredded pork bark that I’d thought came from a nearby tree.

    Staring off at a horizon occupied by jagged mountains of beef jerky — I tried not to think of the gargantuan bovines perhaps grazing in the next universe, only to be transported here and slaughtered over eons by whatever passed for plate tectonics in this world (the terrible, endless, earth-shattering mooing) — I vacantly commented, “Don’t worry, honey.  We’ll find a way out of here.”

    There was no response.

    I startled into full consciousness, looked all around me.  Searched everywhere.

    My wife was gone.

    I suddenly wondered where I’d actually gotten the pork, and wept.

  6. Those are absolutely stunning pictures! And then you start to notice what everything is made of… amazing!!!

    And yeah… even a normal household throws away that much food in quite a short time. Heck, I would add all the snacks, sweets, and “non essential” food we stuff in our faces as food wasted. The food in those pictures? Well used, in my opinion!

  7. I’m pretty sure that’s prosciutto, not raw bacon.

    And if it is, I would totally eat it after the photo shoot.  *drools*



  8. I really like constructed environments like these. The pictures are amazing and remind me of Archimboldo a little bit, if he had been a landscape painter. I’d like to see these as sets for green screened videos of some kind. I imagine a What Dreams May Come mash-up with the allegorical Land of Cockaigne.

  9. This is really nasty.  Why not just use cow entrails, sheep blood, and some pig brains to sculpt your next “artwork”?    At least that way food people can eat would not be wasted. 

    In a time where 1 in 8 Americans need food stamps, how can we celebrate such a display of waste? 

    1. Why not just use cow entrails, sheep blood, and some pig brains to sculpt your next “artwork”? At least that way food people can eat would not be wasted.

      Because it’s an ad, and a picture of sheep’s blood wouldn’t be a very useful ad for a bacon manufacturer. And, by the way, people eat organ meat, so that would be waste as well. And finally, why the hell aren’t you out curing cancer instead of wasting your time commenting on BB?

  10. Why is making art out of something edible any worse than making art out of something inedible?  The resources that went into making paint, quarrying stone, or manufacturing resin could just as easily have been spent making food.  The resources that went into making your computer would have fed a family for years.  Whining about this being a “waste of food” is incredibly myopic, hypocritical, and quite frankly dumb.  You’re focusing on a material simply because it’s something you’re familiar with.  But trust me, it’s energy, time, and material intensive to quarry stone and that energy and time could be put to use feeding way more people than a pound of bacon and some loaves of bread.

    Whiners gotta whine, I guess.

  11. It’s not for a general shortage of food that people go hungry, it’s just a matter of who controls the wealth. Not wasting this food would not feed anyone unless the artists was like, “Hey, instead of using this food for my career, why don’t I just donate it to a food bank?” Which is unlikely, and has very little to do with the choice of his medium. One could just as easily say, as per the paint example above, “Hey, instead of buying paint, why don’t I spend the money on food and donate it to a food bank?”

  12. It’s like a wonderful fantasy landscape from a meat-based version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

    Regarding the “wasting food” criticism: Maybe so, but no more than any other photo shoot for a food advertisement. If you really think that anyone eats all the food pictured in magazine ads or billboards then you haven’t been to a professional photo shoot lately. Even the “fresh vegetables” in produce ads are often sprayed with shellac or otherwise rendered inedible for the benefit of the camera.

  13. If I may come to the defence of my work and point out that a lot of the food in my work is salvaged and either eaten at the end of the shoot or shared out amongst the crew to take home to their families.

     It is also true that we as individuals are the biggest wasters of food, followed by supermarkets who dispose of tons of food that is passed it’s ‘sell by’ date, then there’s the restaurant and catering industry, agriculture and fisheries and on it goes. My main argument against this point however is that I don’t consider my work to be a waste of food just because some of the food is not eaten. My images are used by health care centres, childhood obesity clinics, nutritionalists, on trays in the wards of children’s hospitals, in educational literature, food awareness campaigns, dietary advice websites and a whole host of good causes relating to food education and the promotion of healthier eating habits.As well as all that, the images are not only used to advertise food products which support businesses, create jobs, maintain the farming industry and generate wealth for the economy, but in schools and art departments all over the world they inspire children to be creative, to think differently, to try something new. I don’t think that’s bad going for someone who snaps the contents of his refrigerator?Finally, the exhibitions, print sales, books, calendars, merchandise, and all the viral emails, blogs and websites that have brought joyful smiles to the many faces of people around the globe who enjoy my work, surely can’t be considered such a waste of a few bags of groceries, let alone my time and effort…….can it?BTW:   For your information, we ate most of the parma ham and salamis from the Negroni ad with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

    1. Thanks Carl, but this is the Internet and we don’t know what Negroni is and can’t imagine that food could be eaten after using it to make art. We are proudly ignorant and aren’t afraid of broadcasting the fact.

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