You Are What You Eat 

You Are What You Eat was a two year project devised and delivered by Dunya Kalantery in 2018-2019, working with eleven-year olds from Earlsmead Primary School in Tottenham. It puts young people’s voices first in a conversation about their own health, through two series of child-led films for YouTube.

A two year project with eleven-year olds from Earlsmead Primary School in Tottenham. Earlsmead is multi-ethnic school situated in a historically diverse area experiencing rapid urban development, where levels of childhood obesity are at a national high. UAWUE works to move beyond individualised and penalising descriptions of unhealthy eating and poor health, and to work against negative self-image cycles caused by poor representations of race, class and ethnicity. By celebrating and securing relationships between the body, community and city, my aim with this project is to build resilience by focusing on our connection to our environment, and to inspire children to value themselves, their health, and their relationship with what nourishes them. The project uses film-making to empower children through self-representation, using imagination and storytelling to interrogate and explore how our food, our communities, our urban surroundings and our cultures create supportive environments for both our bodies and our health.

You Are What You Eat takes inspiration from new scientific enquiry around the human microbiome, which shows that our bodies are intrinsically connected to our environment through bacterial colonies which effect our health, happiness and choices; and epigenetics –  which shows us that through genetic expression, our bodies are archives of environmental, historical, and familial experience.

The first series, filmed in Summer 2018, starts with a trip down West Green Road: an exploration of the food culture of Earlsmead Primary Schools’local area, gut science of the microbiome, a how-to of lacto-fermentation and tracing the origins of our favourite foods.

The second series, filmed in Summer 2019 and to be launched this autumn, takes us on journey of who we are, where we are and the challenges we face. With the help of some favourite foods – Instant Noodles, Plantain Crisps, Spiced Buns and foods containing palm oil. 

Beginning with a child-led walk through Seven Sisters, the children gathered an archive of images and objects that told stories about themselves and their lives. This archive created the material basis of the short films that they then created through play, interviews, research and storytelling. The children devised, wrote, designed, produced and edited the series of films over several weeks.