Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium 2021

A Design thinking approach to Artic Gastronomy

Video abstract 

By Julia C. Carrillo Ocampo, Annica Långvall, Joachim Sundqvist & Carita Bengs, Umeå University

Gastronomy has for long been described and presented in relation to the national border from which it has sprung. This focus on gastronationalism (Leer, 2019 ), misses out on the geographical and cultural idiosyncrasies that exist within nations. Within the Nordic countries, the possibilities for food production differs significantly. The cultural dispositions of the people who live in the northern part of the Nordic countries largely differ in relation to those who live in the south and other urban settings  (Hermansen, 2012). Consequently, we argue for the need to elucidate food cultural characteristics related to geographical regions other than nations.

The environment of the arctic region, predominantly covered by the taiga, is globally home to over 40 different ethnic groups, and offers its own distinct possibilities for food production. The arctic is relatively cold for long periods of time and the sunlight is sparse from autumn to late spring. However, during summertime darkness gives away to light and the circumpolar north even has midnight sun. These conditions have been shown to affect sensory as well as nutritional qualities in food (see e.g. Johansen et al., 2017) and thus entail unique prerequisites for producing foods and harvesting wild food resources. This shifting climate that is both harsh and forgiving, together with the local cultures of the people inhabiting the region has given rise to local food cultures (De la Barre & Brouder, 2013; Yang, Hobbsb, & Natcherb, 2020).

During springtime 2021, we initiated and formed the Research group for Arctic Gastronomy at the Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science at Umeå University. Gastronomy related to arctic and sub-arctic regions is the common denominator for our research, stepping away from the conceptualisation of a national gastronomy. Within this scope, we are currently engaged in different research projects. The first one studies the collaboration and relationships between gourmet restaurants and their small-scale local producers in the context of arctic Sweden. The second focuses on trekkers meals while spending time hiking in the Swedish mountains. The third explores Sami food culture in order to preserve and develop Sami traditional and innovative cooking and conservation methods among food professionals.

Inspired by a design thinking approach, we use ethnographic methods to understand food practices and conceptions shared by different actors connected to artic gastronomy (Olsen, 2015). This helps us to further develop and create an innovate concept of arctic gastronomy from a sustainability perspective. We collaborate by joining our three projects, by focusing on different perspectives on artic gastronomy, i.e. restaurants, local producers, consumers and indigenous food culture and due to our location, we naturally start from the Swedish context. We intend to portray within the video, these different approaches to artic gastronomy by showing the different images and showcases of what artic gastronomy entails for different actors and therefore create a common understanding of the meaning of artic gastronomy.


De la Barre, S., & Brouder, P. (2013). Consuming stories: placing food in the Arctic tourism experience. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 8(2-3). doi:10.1080/1743873X.2013.767811

Hermansen, M. E. T. (2012). Creating Terroir. Anthropology of food(S7). doi:10.4000/aof.7249

Johansen, T., Mølmann, J., Bengtsson, G., Schreiner, M., Velasco, P., Hykkerud, A., . . . Seljåsen, R. (2017). Temperature and light conditions at different latitudes affect sensory quality of broccoli florets (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica). Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 97(11), 3500–3508. doi:

Leer, J. (2019 ). Monocultural and  multicultural gastronationalism: National narratives in European food shows. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 22, 817 –834. doi:10.1177/1367549418786404

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Yang, Y., Hobbsb, J. E., & Natcherb, D. C. (2020). Assessing consumer willingness to pay for Arctic food products. Food Policy, 92. doi: