Edible Heritage: Retaining and expanding Metro Vancouver’s cultural diversity through local ethnocultural food landscape

Student: WONG Wing Yin Erica

Supervisor: Susanne Trumpf
Thesis section: Man-made Ecologies: Interpreting Layers of Urban Landscapes
Programme: Master of Landscape Architecture
Date: June 2020


Being an important marker and symbol of culture, food is often conceived as one of the most resilient tools for self-identity formation, community connection maintenance, and heritage making. Since the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003, the concept of heritage has shifted and expanded – the inclusion of intangible heritage called international attention to the need for rethinking our preservation strategies. Unlike the tangible legacies which, to some extent, can be protected by building regulations and zoning ordinances, the preservation of intangible heritage focused heavily on sustaining the community’s bodily experience – a fluid dynamic that cannot be forced by formalized frameworks, and must be supported by a widespread and comprehensive public recognition. Only through the act of constant recreation, the intangible cultural heritage can be passed on from one generation to another, and therefore be kept alive. Cultural landscapes that allow public appreciation are vital to the continuation of our living heritage, and what is more readily appreciated than food? With a holistic approach that utilizes the power of food in grounding body-place-memory, this thesis project, “Edible Heritage” is an attempt to engage the extended local food community in safeguarding the diverse cultures in Metro Vancouver. By multiplying the number of public access points in different sectors of society, including leisure activity, cultural movement, education opportunity, and food research, production, and consumption, the “Edible Heritage” network facilitates the respectful negotiation among the public, innovators, and cultural carriers, reminding us that a cultural landscape is not only a place for remembering but also for living.

Keywords: Vancouver; cultural landscape; living heritage; ethnic neighborhoods; foodscape

Enlarge Photo: The Making of Metro Vancouver: Being one of the most multicultural metropolitan areas in Canada, this drawing shows MVRD's ethnic and cultural diversity. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Colonization Timeline: By comparing historical colonization events with the establishment of different foodways, this timeline criticizes Vancouver's Eurocentric food system. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Regulated/Unregulated: A diagram that explains the parallel alternative food networks of 'unregulated crops'. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Vancouver's Ethnic Cultural Landscape: By mapping out the distribution of local foodscape and ethnic neighborhoods, this map unveils the relationship between food and culture. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Chinatown as a Case Study: A diagram that illustrates how alternative ethnic food network might be conceptualised in a city marked by colonialism, neo-colonialism, and mass immigration. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Heritage at Risk: A diagram that explains the challenges ethnic foodway is facing. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Ethnocultural Crops in Local Food Movement: A diagram that examines the missed opportunity for ethnic food community and local food community. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Seasonal Gourd and Choy: A diagram that showcases the possibilities ethnocultural crops can offer. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Edible Heritage Network: A conceptual map that explains how may this program engage the extended local food community. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.Enlarge Photo: Ethnocultural Foods: A set of visualizations that provokes imagination of a culturally diverse and ecologically resilient food system. By WONG Wing Yin Erica.