8 reasons to RETHINK TASTE

1. THE HEALTH problem: Can taste help us?

The world has an enormous obesity problem which in general tells us that our relation to food is problematic. At the same time, more and more people are under- or malnourished, or occupied with diets every minute of their life. In spite of a general high awareness of what is healthy and what is not, the problems continue. When we discuss this, we use terms as: health, nutrition, appetite, consumerism, politics, pedagogy. But we need to include ‘taste’ in the discussion. We have forgotten how we also are able to use our sense of taste to judge what is good for us. The pleasure of taste and the obligation of nutrition have to be re-connected.

Let’s rethink! Come and listen to the dialogues between Mark Schatzker, Gordon Shepherd and David Howes, and you will understand better what happens to our sense of taste in body and society.

2. THE QUESTION OF ACCES: Good taste should be for all!

Why are Danes so occupied with Michelin restaurants, ‘New Nordic’ and taste – when we have the least variation of products in the supermarkets, and spend less money on food than many other countries? We talk very much about taste, but it seems as if it is not really part of our everyday culture. Taste is often used in a luxurious meaning. When it comes to the daily sandwich, our morning porridge, the school lunch or evening dinner, the meal at the elder care institution or the cantina – it has less public interest.

Let’s rethink! We need to understand how taste is part of our everyday life, not only about gourmet restaurants or special events. Striving for good taste is a matter for all, not only for the elite. Come and listen to the speakers at the Creative Tastebuds symposium, and be inspired to work for taste in everyday life.

3. THE FORGOTTEN KNOW-HOW: We need to take taste back in our hands

The last 50 years of industrialization of the food sector has been enormous. 50 years ago we knew the farmer who slaughtered our chickens, we knew how to find out if a fish was fresh or not, and we knew the taste of many different kinds of fresh apples. Industrialization have made our crops and meat taste-(of)-less, at the same time as more and more artificial flavors are added to our food. Taste is a commodity of the market now, and to a less degree a product of our own hands, of our cooking skills. The one-to-one relation between product and taste has become more blurred: We eat chocolate with strawberries or ice cream with banana taste without being able to identify where the taste of fruit comes from. The process from farm to fork has become in-transparent.

Let’s rethink! We need to discuss if this is the way we want to go. At the Creative Tastebuds Symposium you will be inspired to rethink taste. In addition, we will enjoy handmade food from Café Hack and Centralværkstedet. Come and taste!

4. COMMENSALITY UNDER PRESSURE? Taste helps us being social

We live in a time period where the individual is more and more in focus, also when it comes to eating: We count calories and steps, plan diets, have our own meal times, eat in the car and the train on our way to work, check our mails and mobile phones while we eat. We individualize our food and eating to a degree that makes it difficult to serve the same meal to a larger group of people. But what happens to sociality when taste experiences are more individualized?

Let’s rethink! Come and listen to Thorsten Schmidt, Ole G. Mouritsen and Carole Counihan, discussing the primacy of our taste sharing, and how taste has always brought people together.

5. THE NEXT GENERATIONS: We need to see taste from the child’s perspective

In a current review study from Taste-for-Life the researchers were astonished to find no studies of children’s own perceptions of taste. Nearly all research on food and children has a nutritional and moralistic aim: how do we (as adults) learn children to eat the right food? Although research in children since the 1980’ies has stressed children as competent interpreters of their own life, this approach seems not to be included in nutritional research? Have we forgotten to teach them to develop their sense of taste?

Let’s rethink! Come and listen to how we can imagine the learning of taste in new ways, e.g. as being shaped by our attachment to both landscapes and houses. With Lone Wiggers, Amy Trubek and John Prescott.

6. THE PROBLEM OF COMPLEXITY: Do we know our senses and how they work together with other impressions?

Even if we have specific taste receptors that can identify e.g. molecules as umami, this taste has no quality if you are not hungry or if you just have received a very bad message. Taste cannot be understood as a simple meeting between foodstuff and taste receptors. What we taste is not either physiological or dependent of the social context. The ways we experience taste are both universal, individual and cultural, but how do these different aspects – brain, culture, physics - of taste relate to each other?

Let’s rethink! Come and listen to the dialogue between Marije Vogelzang, Charles Spence and David Sutton and discover how memory can be seen as a sense of taste.

7. THE LANGUAGE CHALLENGE: Do we need new words for taste?

Taste is not a concept only relevant for one specific discipline. It is a word used both in everyday communication, in food production and food companies, and in highly specialized research milieus. But we do not speak the same language: we do not define taste in the same ways. Taste can be in our heads, and on the tongue. It can be a quality in a cheese, a way of living or a statement of what you like or not. It is multisensorial but often named as mono-sensorial. How can we develop our knowledge if we don’t know what we are talking about?

Let’s rethink! The word needs nuances. At the Creative Tastebuds Symposium you will experience the world’s most creative minds re-creating concepts of taste – live!

8. THERE IS STILL MUCH TO DISCOVER: We need to think creatively and inter-disciplinary in order to formulate new questions

Taste is a growing field of interest. Whether you sell taste, develop taste, invent taste, produce taste, teach taste, evaluate taste, share taste, investigate taste or just like taste – there is still much to discover, and it cannot be done without cross-disciplinary dialogue. Neuro gastronomy is an example of how chefs and psychologists are re-thinking taste together. Architects, filmmakers, writers and performers know a lot about our senses, and could be part of the dialogue too. And we could learn from many other cross-disciplinary combinations. How our tastebuds decide what they like and what not is still a mystery. Tastebuds are anatomic facts, with creative potentials.

Let’s rethink! We have invited an architect, a food writer, a performer and a chef. We have encouraged them to create interdisciplinary dialogues between science and the humanities. Meet: Marije Vogelzang, Mark Schatzker, Thorsten Schmidt and Lone Wiggers in dialogues with Gordon Shepherd, Charles Spence, David Howes, Ole G. Mouritsen, John Prescott, Carole Counihan and David Howes. And contribute to the re-thinking yourself!