Go to your average grocery store, and the color palette can be very bland, the result of the strict cosmetic standards that these stores are up against. Go to a farmers’ market however, and the many shapes, sizes, and varieties of produce not only make for a more interesting shopping experience, but also a chance to reduce food waste while celebrating the uniqueness of different foods.
On her Instagram account, Lucia Litman captures a little bit of that extensive natural color palette in her #pantoneposts series. She finds inspiration from the market, both for what she eats and for what she creates, by pairing the colors of nature with swatches from color authority Pantone.
With shots of fresh eggs and vibrant carrots, you might think that Litman has always been inspired by fresh food, but, in fact, the source of inspiration for her inaugural Pantone post was quite the opposite. After a frustrating day at work, Litman needed to indulge in a guilty pleasure: curling up in bed with a bowl of Fruit Loop cereal.
“I woke up the next day with this massive box of Fruit Loops that I didn’t know what to do with. When I poured them into a bowl, I was a little bit horrified by how bright and unnatural the colors were, they were pretty much electric and looked almost poisonous,” says Litman. To highlight the cereal’s unnatural colors, she paired them with Pantone chips, and the picture would become the first of her #pantoneposts.
Her interest eventually shifted to something more natural. “It was only when I moved to California and was surrounded by such amazing produce that I shifted the series to focus on fruits and vegetables mainly,” she says.
Litman isn’t the first to pair Pantone colors and food (designer David Schwen is known for his quirky images), but what makes her photos unique is that they are a celebration of both seasonality and the diversity that comes with fresh produce, from farm fresh eggs to edible flowers.
“Food has always been what’s inspired me most in my life,” says Litman. “My grandparents grew up in farming families, and my favorite memories growing up are planting and harvesting vegetables in their backyard. I was always amazed by nature and the idea that a tiny seed could produce such bountiful and vibrant food … the colors and variety of food continue to amaze me.”
Litman is based in San Francisco, with access to plenty of locally grown, fresh produce. Saturday mornings are her creative time when she creates most of her posts, and she goes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market for inspiration. “There’s always such a wide variety of food available there–I’ve gotten to know some of the farmers so well that they’ll save a piece or two of their most vibrant produce for me,” she says.
Her food never goes to waste, and if anything, her series has challenged her to use ingredients she might otherwise have skipped. “One other thing I love about this routine is that it’s taught me how to cook some amazing fruits and vegetables,” she says, noting that she’ll use the focal ingredient of her series that week to guide her meal planning. “So the week that I color-matched Swiss chard, I was eating Swiss chard slaw for lunch and then braised chard for dinner all week.”
While she doesn’t explicitly use her Instagram feed as a platform for advocating about food issues, she does want us to rethink our relationship to food. “At the end of the day, food should be fun and should bring you joy,” she says. “I always try and reinforce that through my work.”
All images courtesy of Lucia Litman.