Imagine immersing a piece of red cabbage in water and discovering, through color changes, whether that same water is contaminated or not. I made it simple, but really the core of "Colores del Rio" (a revolutionary project developed by the Californian artist and designer Melissa Ortiz) and this. With a simple gesture, the young people of the agricultural community of Salinas can now become custodians of the water and the land, using a bio-tool created from local agricultural waste. An initiative that not only promotes citizen science, but also the art of reuse, giving new life to food waste.
Colores del Rio, "the origins"
We are used to seeing food as a source of nourishment, but who would have thought that a red cabbage could become an instrument of environmental justice? There Ortiz he saw beyond the obvious. She saw a chance.
"Colores del Rio" is a bio device that can evaluate water quality through the simple act of immersion. Made with local agricultural waste, the project is a small masterpiece of biodesign activism in response to local systemic issues involving the monoculture industry, the nearby Salinas River drainage basin and affected communities. Every year there are many pesticides used in agriculture that end up in river waters, and being able to monitor the conditions of the territory is essential.
Science meets art
Using this unique tool made up of agricultural waste from the cheap and widespread red cabbage, young people of the new generations can become guardians of water and land, a bit like the Amazonian communities. When placing 'Colores del Rio' in a nearby body of water, one can evaluate the pH colors that emerge and assess whether there is contamination and ultimately a threat to the community.
"Colores del Rio" invites the next generation of youth leaders to actively participate in biodesign, citizen science and environmental justice, giving local food waste another life, regenerative and supportive of people and ecosystems.Melissa Ortiz
A future of cabbage (in a good way) and "agricultural heroes"
The "Colores del Rio" project began in a Biodesign class at the California College of the Arts (CCA). Since then, it has evolved into a partnership with xinampa, a non-profit organization in Salinas, and is now nearing widespread practical use.
The future is green, and not just in the ecological sense. It's also purple, like the red cabbage that powers this innovative tool. "Colores del Rio" is not just a project to sublimate agricultural waste; it is a vision, a dream and a step towards a future where science, art and community merge to create sustainable solutions.
One cabbage at a time.