Thomas Adey


The Project Brief

This brief was self-directed and written as part of my Final Major Project.

The Background:
As we become more aware of our food industry’s impact on the environment,
especially revolving around the meat we produce to consume, focus has turned to
assessing the economic viability of diets where nutrition is primarily sourced from
plant-based foods. In the present day, however, we are in the throes of a cost-of living
crisis that is suffocating homes and families, especially those in the most
economically deprived communities (Institute For Government, 2022), many of them
having areas branded as ‘Food deserts’ or ‘Food swamps’. These areas suffer from a
variety of issues that restrict peoples’ ability to access cheap and fresh food, often
overpopulated by fast food restaurants and marked-up corner store goods. As diets
that consume little to no meat become popular and meat prices sharply rise, an
Oxford University study conducted in 2021 concluded that sustainable vegetarian
diets were, ‘Compared with the cost of current diets … up to 22–34% lower in cost in
upper-middle-income to high-income countries on average’ (The Lancet Planetary
Health, 2021). This information can empower people to transition their diet to save
money and promote good health, easing the financial strain food shopping has on
people in these areas. Many of these goods can either be eaten raw or cooked easily,
making access to these benefits even easier. Yet, their location’s scarcity of fresh
produce and reliance on fast, unhealthy food makes this data impossible for them to
take advantage of.

The Challenge:
Find a way to provide fast, much-needed access to fresh produce in the ‘food deserts/
swamps’ in the UK. People aged 25-45 years old are of particular focus because they
are up to twice as likely to report being poor in health compared to their financially
stable peers (The Health Foundation, 2022), and as this generation starts to bear
children, they will need nutrients that can support them as much as it supports
their financial situation. Their current reliance on fast food and artificially expensive
goods is unsustainable, and will result in poor health and financial instability in the
long term. Use a tone of voice that emphasises the benefits of gradually erasing the
ultra-processed foods they relied on, encouraging an easier transition for people to
manage. Calling for sudden and radical dietary change may discomfort potential
audiences into being inactive and unreceptive, and alternative diets such as
vegetarianism and veganism are susceptible to charged debates involving morality,
which should be avoided.

Planning ahead and other thoughts:
The demographic targeted for this brief edges somewhat towards the cusp of
digital literacy, so any solutions you make involving technology need to be carefully
considered and designed accordingly for an accessible user experience. People
may be unable to reach and take home fresh food due to issues with mobility and
carrying capacity – many people within the target demographic may not be able to
drive. Another key consideration is the audience’s relationship between time, money
and health. To have one of the three, the other two factors often have to suffer. To
get money, people (usually) work longer hours, tiring them out and leaving them
reaching for fast, unhealthy food. Your design will take advantage of one irregularity
in this relationship – being healthy doesn’t need to take time or cost too much.
How can we take advantage of this to construct a long-term solution?
With the existence of other initiatives designed towards relieving food poverty, a
unique perspective on this issue will help your design stand out and offer something
new to an overlooked audience. Do existing charities cater to this specific issue, or
are they an ‘invisible’ problem? Given the location of some of the problem areas,
with several in Glasgow and Liverpool alone, a unique cultural connection could be
attained to give the project a unique edge. This design will hopefully create a sense
of stability to an audience otherwise fraught with uncertainty, and this factor is
important above all else in its design philosophy.


The Process

A wide spread of research was conducted merely to find the problem to solve. Starting with the consumption of meat and its health impacts, I then looked into the advent of lab-grown meat products before looking into deficiencies and the cost of certain diets. A major turning point was the finding of a study from Oxford that suggested that grocery bills could be reduced by 1/3rd by adopting a primarily vegetarian diet. With the cost-of-living crisis taking hold during this time, the focus was to find a way to make an aspect of life cheaper for people, since in theory if it were easy enough to adopt, lots of people would be doing it. However, research found that those struggling the most were working long shifts for not a great amount of money, leaving them in need of convenience foods, which was where the realisation began that I could interrupt the fast food landscape to make something cheaper, more convenient, and just as tasty. With food swamps being areas oversaturated with takeaway stores, I constructed the Deatour food truck brand as a way to insert healthy convenience food even closer to people.

The End Result

The final outcome is a combination of physical and digital assets, alongside a research editorial that I would love to send to people if they  wanted to have a look!

A realisation made along the way was that food swamps usually did have at least one store of fresh goods, but people were still relying on fast food located literally within the same street. The Deatour food trucks indeed provide access to fresh produce, though what I found was that the overworked demographic never had enough time or energy to prepare these products, so they are made into healthy fast food to make them much more attractive than raw produce. Containing a menu composed primarily of vegetarian ingredients (keeping costs lower), they work alongside physical assets that signpost where these trucks set up shop in residential areas. The brand’s tone of voice focuses more on changing convenience foods for the better than demonising them, which I found was quite a common phenomenon, though it doesn’t shy away from poking fun at existing brands and takeaways with portable signage (heartburn central is that way!). The digital assets include a website mock-up that leads people to the physical locations and vice versa, ensuring the brand is easy to access and learn about even for those on the cusp of digital literacy.

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