Added on by Anna Sigrithur.

by Anna Sigrithur

Ruminants chewing and re-chewing their cud has shaped human civilization. By grace of their unique four-chambered stomach and its microbiome, plant material indigestible to humans is transformed into food for the animal and for others.

Yet the rumen itself, the chamber of the stomach responsible for this microbial breakdown of plant matter, also contains a nutrient-dense slurry known as 'green soup' that has been eaten as a last-minute supplement by herders and hunters around the world. Roberto and I wondered if we could interact with this process in vitro to create new dishes, or to render edible new ingredients. But a question began to gnaw at us, forcing us to some rumination of our own: When it comes to food traditions, is there a line between surviving and thriving? Or is it less a line than a loop? And what is the value in trying to translate ephemeral, in-the-field food experiences into dishes in the kitchen? 

Charisma and conservation

Added on by Anna Sigrithur.

by Anna Sigrithur and Meradith Hoddinott

In the quest to obtain sensory pleasures, the seeker sometimes puts ethics aside. This conundrum is especially true when it comes to food and eating. But what if taste could help us participate in flourishing ecologies by attuning us to when and how best to eat certain organisms? The answer is complicated, in part by our human tendency to assign value unevenly to different organisms—a phenomenon aptly described as 'non-human charisma' (Lorimer, 2007).

In this episode, we explore how non-human charisma colours the tension between deliciousness and conservation. Our main story takes us to the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic sea, the site of a troubling drama between cod, local fisherman, a lot of worms, and an overpopulation of protected grey seals. But first, we take you back up into Sápmi where, for Sami reindeer herders, the endangered golden eagle is less majestic treasure, more economic hindrance—and even sometimes a vital threat.

Music in this episode from Bicycle Face.


Lorimer, J. 2007. 'Non-human charisma'. Environment and Planning 25:5, 911-932.

The Old New Superfood

Added on by Anna Sigrithur.

by Anna Sigrithur

The chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus; Báhkkečátná in Sami language) grows on birch trees. It has become a trendy 'superfood' in recent years, marketed as a mystical Siberian tonic for many ailments. Yet it has also been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years in Sápmi, the territory of the indigenous Sami people in northern Scandinavia, as well as in other regions of the sub-Arctic.

Use of chaga has declined over recent generations. Yet, after researchers began studying the fungus for its health benefits and it became a health supplement sold in pill form, younger people started to reclaim interest in chaga's traditional use. In this episode, Sami teacher Laila Spik Skaltje talks about both the uses and cultural meaning of báhkkečátná, and Sami journalist Máret Steinfjell shares her perspective on what she describes as chaga's youth-driven renaissance.  

'I would kiss them before I eat them'

Added on by Anna Sigrithur.

by Anna Sigrithur

It is nowadays an all-but-forgotten practice, but there is also a Sami tradition of insect-eating. It was never a huge part of their diet, but as Laila emphasises, when you must survive in the arctic, every little thing helps, especially nutrient-dense and, for some, particularly tasty morsels like these—which is why her father taught her to eat the larvae of Hypoderma tarandi, the Reindeer Warble Fly.

Sun, Wind and Pine Bark

Added on by Anna Sigrithur.

by Anna Sigrithur

The Sami are known as the people of the Sun and Wind; named for the elements that they harness to survive and thrive in a sometimes challenging environment. Learning from Laila about her traditional foods, I came to realise that much of Sami cuisine relies on the process of dehydration: the extraction of water from a food lightens the load for travelling herders and inhibits food spoilage allowing foods to be stored and preserved for the long dark winter. 

The Sami food traditions were developed around these imperatives. Amongst Laila's many stories about her childhood was the story of her mother's breads which were baked with all manner of dehydrated and ground plants, representing the diversity of the forest around them. For me, the most interesting flours were ones made from the outer and inner barks of the pine and birch trees that blanket the mountains in Sápmi. In this episode Laila tells us her mother's bread story, and we take a forest walk to learn about the harvesting of pine bark for flours. 

To learn more about the uses of pine and birch bark flours in Scandinavia, as well as some recipes we have been developing at the lab, make sure to read our blog post on tree bark.

We must let them taste

Added on by Anna Sigrithur.

Welcome to season 2 of NFLR. This season, we say thank you and farewell to our founding producer Meradith, and welcome a new producer, Anna Sigrithur, to the mic. -ed.

by Anna Sigrithur

Meet Laila Spik Skaltje: the Sami reindeer herder and traditional foods teacher that I lived and worked with this summer in Swedish Lapland.

Laila is a steward of her family's ecological wisdom—but she is not afraid of working with modern agents like timber companies and ambitious restaurants, carrying on her father's work of educating the world about the value of Sami knowledge.

In this episode—and throughout this season of NFLR, which will follow my summer with Laila—we explore the complexities of living a modern life 'close to nature', and how Laila uses taste as a way to bring people into her world. 

The Smell Game

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

by Meradith Hoddinott

We follow Ghislaine Calleja, a Masters student at the University of Copenhagen, who is working with us to develop a children's game that encourages kids to have fun with their food and try new things. This project is part of a partnership between Nordic Food Lab and Smag for Livet—a center funded by the Nordea Foundation that promotes education through taste.

This is the last episode of NFLR season 1, produced by Meradith. We'll be starting up season 2 soon, with a new producer—but in the meantime, huge thanks to Meradith, and enjoy her final episode. —ed.

Thoughts from the Field: Desert Eggs

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

by Meradith Hoddinott

The Thoughts in the Field series has brought us all over the world. In this last installment, the lab unearths one of Mexico's most sought after delicacies – escamoles – and reflects on the methods and potential of semi-cultivation practices.

Two white flies

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

by Meradith Hoddinott

Roberto Flore and David Pedersen talk about their experiences with and views on hunting. The chef and hunter discuss the popular perception of hunting in contemporary society, their vision of hunting as a way of connecting with one's environment and its potential for sensitive ecological management. They also describe how they have been influenced by each other's work in the kitchen and the forest.

A not so simple staple

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

by Meradith Hoddinott

Jonas combines three simple ingredients (flour, water, and salt) into an object of great gastronomic complexity: bread. We go back to bread's origins in grain and talk about the microbial and molecular transformations that make bread possible.

Voices: Jonas Astrup Pedersen and Per Grupe 
Music: The Bankrupt! Diaries by Phoenix

The Proust Effect
Jonas reminisces about his days studying at Danish folk high school (højskole), and how reading Proust there shaped how he interacts with food today.

Voices: Jonas Astrup Pedersen
Music: One More by Cymande

NFLR will be going on a short break. The next episode will be coming to you on May 11th.

Thoughts from the Field: Tasting the Outback

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

by Meradith Hoddinott

In this second installment of Thoughts from the Field, Josh takes us to Yuendumu, a remote town of a few hundred people in the middle of the Central Australian desert. Often times, the lab's work in the field is nothing like what they had in mind. What does it mean to go into another culture and ask questions? What are some of the challenges and obstacles in fieldwork? And what are some of the unexpected rewards?

Honey Ants
Voices: Josh Evans, Ben Reade, Andreas Johnsen, Wendy Baarda, Coral Kelake, and Tess Napaljarri Ross
Music: It's Cold and Beautiful by Magical Mistakes
Field audio from Andreas Johnsen

Bush Coconuts
Voices: Josh Evans, Ben Reade, Andreas Johnsen, and Rahab Spencer
Music: Packaging by Pollen RX and AR AK by Pollen RX
Field audio from Andreas Johnsen


Discerning Taste: Deliciousness as an Argument for Entomophagy is a project funded by the Velux Foundation. Through this project, the lab aims to learn from cultures around the world and explore the gastronomic potential of insects. Check out the first installment of Thoughts from the Field.

Thoughts from the Field: Tom the Termite Man

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

by Meradith Hoddinott

For some, eating insects sounds strange. But for many, insects are everyday staples and sometimes treasured delicacies. The lab is in the midst of a 3-year project that aims to learn from cultures around the world and explore the gastronomic potential of insects. The project, Discerning Taste: Deliciousness as an Argument for Entomophagy, is funded by the Velux Foundation. 

Our first insect story takes place in the lush hills of central Uganda, in an area called Kisoga, west of Kampala.

Voices: Josh Evans, Ben Reade, Tom Lugeba, and Rogers Sserunjogi
Music: Strobe Lights by King Pleaxure
Field audio from Andreas Johnsen

Still hungry? Here's a termite snack.

Complex Sandwiches
Tom's wife, Ritah, makes roasted termites for Josh and Ben.

Voices: Josh Evans, Ben Reade, and Tom Lugeba
Field audio from Andreas Johnsen

Tang Tango

Added on by Meradith Hoddinott.

Seaweed science from the water to the kitchen.

by Meradith Hoddinott

Seaweed, or tang in Danish, is so much more than the smelly stuff you find on the beach. Marine algae form a fascinating underwater world of jungles, forests, meadows, and plains. Algae hold tremendous power, and our relationship with them dramatically shapes the marine landscape, whether we are aware of it or not. Asian cultures have been cultivating seaweed for centuries, but seaweed farming is a new frontier in Danish waters. Can taste shape the future of seaweed in Denmark?

Voices: Daniel Conley, Peter Schmedes, Ole Mouritsen, Josh Evans, and Roberto Flore.
Music: Frog & Toad by Archie Pelago

Looking for more? Here are some seaweed snacks.


What's Your Favourite Seaweed?
Seaweed foragers, scientists, farmers, and chefs share their favourite seaweed dishes.

Voices: Thomas Larson, Ole Mouritsen, Susan Holdt, Peter Schmedes, Josh Evans, and Roberto Flore.
Music: Travelling Light by Dr. Fidelity


In Search of Sea Lettuce
Roberto Flore, Head Chef of Nordic Food Lab, goes on a quest to find fresh seaweed in Copenhagen's Torvehallerne market.

Music: Short Selling by Pollen


Seaweed Foraging
Forager and teacher Thomas Laursen describes foraging for seaweed along the Danish coast.