René Redzepi Expands Foraged Food Vision with VILD MAD
Founded in 2011 by chef-patron René Redzepi, the Danish non-profit MAD uses food as a way to improve knowledge of the environment (particularly with regard to the food system). Talks and articles are published on their website that approach food from unusual perspectives, examples of which include promoting peace through food, what happens when a food you love becomes endangered, gender and the kitchen, and the Mongol diet. MAD also organizes yearly symposiums around a topic in food during which speakers from all industries (chefs, journalists, historians, philosophers, urban gardeners, chemists) provide their take.
MAD’s newest initiative, VILD MAD, focuses on “learning about, tasting, and exploring wild food”. The initiative was granted $1.25 million by the Nordea Foundation (a group that funds different activities aligned with health, food, exercise, nature, and culture), and is being implemented in conjunction with the Danish Rangers Association, the Danish Outdoor Council, Byhøst (an online service focused on providing information about consuming wild plants), and the Alexandra Institute (a nonprofit research and technology organization developing VILD MAD’s electronic platforms).
VILD MAD, which will launch Spring 2017, works along three fronts: one focused on students and children, the second for Danish public, and the third an online resource accessible to anyone.
The first facet, for children, implements cooking, tasting, and eating as an essential part of competency. VILD MAD has developed curricula around foraging and cooking that emphasizes our connection to the food system and explores our relationship with sustainability.
The second facet, for the Danish population at large, offers similar classes on foraging and cooking, encouraging individuals to identify and track edibles plants in the wild (what VILD MAD calls the “edible landscape”), becoming closer to the earth as they experience nature on its own terms.
The final facet of VILD MAD makes their work (food safety, “edibility maps,” cooking tips) widely available through electronic platforms (apps and other online resources). Rather than see technology as a barrier to nature–too often, nature and technology exist as a dichotomy–VILD MAD approaches technology as a way to connect people to the world around them, encouraging them to consider more closely what they come across and to see themselves as part of a larger system.
Redzepi often uses wild ingredients in his restaurant noma (which serves modern Nordic cuisine with a molecular gastronomy twist) and wants to bring the tastes he develops there to the rest of Denmark. Through taste, Redzepi believes individuals will become more invested in understanding how and where they interact with the environment–and most of all, will come to appreciate nature in its wild state.
For now, VILD MAD exists only in Denmark, but Redzepi hopes other countries will use it as a model to encourage their own populations to explore sustainable foraging and become more comfortable in nature. Something is wild in state of Denmark…