Marije Vogelzang on changing how we think about food

I had the unexpected pleasure of attending a talk by brilliant Dutch ‘eating designer’ Marije Vogelzang earlier this month.

She talked us through a selection of projects from her portfolio, most of which used the environment around food and the way it is served and consumed to change the way we see the world – in small, but significant, ways. The image below shows part of a meal which aimed to get people thinking about food miles – as evidenced on their plate:

My favourite project was one of a series she is undertaking for a hospital, aiming to tackle the lack of nutritional food that children eat during their stay there. Healthy food isn’t alluring, but junk food carries guilt and bad feelings.

Vogelzang’s solution was to adapt the way we think about what we want to eat. She used colours of the rainbow to alter the thought process from the negative “I should have this because it’s good and not have that because it’s bad” to the sweetly effective “I’ll eat red food to have energy”, “I’ll eat yellow food to make friends”, etc – changing the association from generic health to more positive aspects of life.

Plus, the food was rainbow-coloured.

Vogelzang concluded the talk by posing a series of questions she asks herself, as a neat way of explaining her philosophy and what she is trying to do. Here are a few:

– Why don’t we like blue tomatoes?

– Why do we eat more when food makes a crispy sound?

– Why does the smell of coffee make chemotherapy patients sick?

– Does ‘in vitro’ meat have a soul?

– Why didn’t anybody have food allergies fifty years ago?

– Is obesity an illness?

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Marije Vogelzang on changing how we think about food