— Educating Food Empathy

The Scandivanian «folkehøgskole» has always been concerned with how we as a people can take part in preserving and renewing democracy in a meaningful way. Food and sustainable production is a highly relevant place to address the renewal, and the youth of today are ready to take on that responsibility. We want to help them learn how to.


The ideas that lead to the establishment of these schools – which are now a Scandinavian trademark – came from the danish priest, writer and philosopher Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig, in the 1800’s. Because of this, Grundtvig is often referred to as “the father of the folk high schools.” Originally dedicated to educating the commons and the farmers in a different, more democratic way than the latin schools of the elite, folk high schools of today are probably viewed as more of a gap year for students. A year in between high school and university, where you can follow your interests and meet new people. But the folk high schools are still very much rooted in the ideas of democratisation and enlightenment, and are always up to date with the current trends and interests of the youth. Courses are always changing and evolving, although schools will normally specialise in different things.

We believe the folk high school is the perfect arena for bringing out new thoughts on food and sustainability, with it’s possibilites of creating new courses with an everchanging curriculum. A year dedicated to learning and exploring what we like to call «matdannelse», or «food bildung», has the potential to give the leaders of tomorrow new understanding, new tools and new appreciation for the complexity of nature and our intrinsic connection with it.

At Engelsholm folkehøgskole a new approach to food and sustainability is being investigated and developed. We at Food Studio are lucky to be a part of it, and just a few weeks ago we held a workshop developed together with Gitte from Bøgedal Brew, designer Stine Poulsgård and Maria Benedikte Bastholm Nielsen.

The workshop, or inspirational day, was led by chef Maria Bastholm. She has specialised in organic food, following the seasons and the local selection, where a holistic approach to nutrition takes center stage.

«To me, the kitchen should nourish all senses. This is where we cook, where we eat and where we share nutritious and sustaining meals with our families and friends. When I cook, I put my heart into making meals that are nutritious on all levels, so that the meals will not only sustain our physical bodies, but also our spirits and minds», Maria explains.

When creating menus, she always start with meeting the guests, and creating food out of their needs, wishes and ideas, and uses that as a starting point.

«I try to get all the colours into the menu, as well as different textures and flavours, and make sure it is all well balanced as far as ingredients and flavours go.»

With this approach she also created the menu for the workshop with Engelsholm. Its aim is to get more vegetables and plants into the schools kitchen, as well as cutting down on meat consumption to make a more organic and climate friendly school.

«Jannie [head chef at Engelsholm] is the driving force behind this. You can always create projects, hire consultants and host workshop with all the best intentions, but when it domes down to it, the women in the kitchen are the ones who have to carry the project on in their everyday work.»

And Maria’s approach seemed to have worked well with the ladies in Engelsholm’s kitchen. She says she has already gotten positive feedback from an inspired kitchen gang. «They told me they were inspired to use far more herbs and wild edibles, and that they are now more focused on the importance of diversity in their cooking.»

We are excited to see how Engelsholms kitchen will change in the coming year, and very thrilled to be a part of the ever-growing community of innovative food entrepreneurs.


Words by Hanne Gideonsen

Photography by Svein Kjøde