Anne was born and raised in Denmark, in Western Jutland. She just graduated from GNH, and she would love to work with health projects connected with food, meals and food culture. She believes that teaching children and young people not only about nutrition and health, but also about food/meals by stimulating their senses and curiosity, will make them more informed consumers able to make conscious decisions in the future. In this post she will tell you about her internship in a kindergarten that focused on using the Sapere Method with children.
In early 2013 my fellow student Pernille Borowik and I were contacted by lectors Søren Tange Kristensen and Allan Køster about an internship in connection with a project with narrative supervision. The aim of the internships was to build a base of knowledge about food, nutrition and health in a kindergarten in Østerbro in Copenhagen through a health intervention.
Our focus for the internships and the intervention was on food literacy and how to work pedagogically with food. Furthermore, it was decided to focus on the taste and sensory education method Sapere, which we both had heard about at a conference at Ålborg University in Copenhagen. This method had shown to have a large impact on children’s willingness to taste novel foods, and thereby hopefully broaden their preferences, resulting in a more varied diet. The Sapere Method works with five aspects of food and sensory education: to get to know and identify one’s senses and tastes, to enrich one’s vocabulary, to foster a more informed consumer, to dare tasting new products and meals, and to get a more varied diet (Jonsson et al, 2000).
On the basis of our need assessment in the kindergarten, we chose to especially focus on the “to enrich one’s vocabulary” part of the Sapere Method. This was an aspect of the sensory education which we thought had not gotten the attention it should have had in other similar projects with Sapere. Also, the kindergarten already had projects with a herb garden and cooking with the children. We therefore chose to work with the Sapere Method to develop it and see if fostering what we called a “language of food” in the kindergarten would have any impact on neophobia (children’s unwillingness to taste novel foods) (Rosin, 1976).
The intervention was carried out over three days, with food narratives and food games, and also included some competence training for the pedagogues. During the intervention, our focus was to introduce the four tastes (sweet, salt, bitter and sour), and to let the children and the pedagogues engage with food and all their senses. At the same time, we had to talk about what we sensed; how the food looked, felt, smelled, tasted and sounded.
A language of food contains different possibilities. First of all, it provides the pedagogues and the children with a tool they can use to express food and meal experiences. This articulation can positively affect the children to be more willing to taste novel foods and thereby less neophobic. This can happen by seeing others (for example, the more daring peers) eat. When sharing a meal in a group, the children are also able to share experiences with the food. The more observing children want to be a part of this group, and this can actually make them more willing to taste. This might also happen because of the more positive atmosphere and the meal enjoyment this language creates. Talking and describing the food positively and explicitly can make the children more curious and stimulate their desire to taste. By fostering a language of food, our hope was to stimulate their community of food and meal practices. Therefore, the passive dinner situation can become an educational meal; a situation where both children and pedagogues can learn from each other’s food and meal experiences.
The opportunity to both create and carry out this project, along with writing a bachelor thesis on the subject, has given me a lot of different competences which I can use in my future jobs e.g. project-planning, intervention design, working with pedagogues, and children, evaluation, analysis, qualitative methods, etc. In particular, I have a gained a lot of experience with putting theory into practice. I am grateful to have achieved this through my education as it has somehow made me better suited to now go out in the real world and get a job as a newborn Bachelor in Global Nutrition and Health.