• Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

In his spare time, Steve Sullivan, the urban ecology curator at the Chicago Academy of Sciences, likes to hunt squirrels. Recently, he showed a specimen he was planning to cook up and serve as dinner to a friend.

“That’s not dinner!” Sullivan’s friend exclaimed after inspecting what appeared to be a rather meager hunk of meat.

And yet, as Sullivan points out, 60 or 70 years ago, an ordinary American family could make a similarly sized hunk of meat last for an entire week.

“Food: The Nature of Eating,” the new exhibit Sullivan helped curate at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (it opens tomorrow and will stay open till 9/8), examines, among other things, how the changes Americans made to nature affected their diets and how they think about food.

“We tend to think that there’s a human world and a natural world,” says Sullivan, “but we’re part of the natural world, and we’re most connected to it through our food.”