Debate article – cookbook


“Education is one of the most powerful instruments we have for bringing about the changes required to achieve sustainable development”. It is “a motor of change” and “will contribute to enabling citizens to face challenges of the present and the future and to make relevant decisions for a viable world.” Those sentences are to be read in the information text of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development2. However, the statements in this report are quite vague. The report neither answers the question how this education should look like in particular nor does it provide a concrete action plan.

So, what does education for sustainable development actually mean? It does certainly not mean to only provide people with information about the things that go wrong in the world. People, who watch the news know about climate change and that our consumption habits are the root cause of it. They also know about the inequalities between the North and the South and that our standard of living is based on the underdevelopment of Africa and South America. Thus in many cases there is no lack of knowledge. It is rather the question: What can an individual person do about all that? The easiest answer certainly is: Nothing at all! The problem is thereby not solved, put at least pushed aside.

If there is a huge pile of problems one doesn’t know where to start. This is why it is important to break down the big problems in smaller sections. Let’s take consumption as an example: “Because of the predicted doubling of global population, (...) humanity must reduce its consumption by 75 % by 2030 to become more sustainable”.4 Quite huge! How should an individual person tackle that challenge? So let’s break it down even further: What could people in Uppsala then do in order to contribute to achieve this goal? They could for example start with questioning their individual consumption habits. Now, consumption is quite an abstract term. Let’s maybe only focus on sustainable food consumption habits. This is where our project starts.

According to Prax5, “the transition to a sustainable future will require that the vast majority of people be persuaded to adopt different lifestyles.” In order to do so we want to present the general information we give in first part of the book in a “vivid, concrete and personalized” manner and want to tailor it “to the different segments of the community that one wish to reach”. Having wanted to know more about the attitudes of our target group (students and young families), we handed out a survey among this group. The result was, that people would like to know more about sustainable food in general and about where to get it in Uppsala in particular. The survey also revealed that people would buy sustainable food more often, if it was cheaper and better accessible.

Based on those answers we decided to explain the environmental, social and economical problems conventional agriculture causes and why sustainable agriculture is the better choice in our book. In order to not make it look like a textbook we decided to write it more like a conversation (questions - answers). We also plan to work with colours and drawings to make it more vivid. Since we as well provide information about specific farmers in Uppsala the information is as well personalized as it is mostly useful for people living in Uppsala. The ingredients for the recipes aren’t expensive and the recipes itself are easy to cook - perfect for students and young families who don’t own a fortune and don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen in everyday life.

We decided to include meat in some recipes although we are aware that meat is not considered to be sustainable food. We therefore explain how livestock production effects the climate and the health of animals and advice people to eat as less meat as possible: “If your message is too extreme, your audience will actually become less, rather than more, supportive after hearing your message. (...) You want to tailor your message so that it is slightly more extreme than the beliefs of your audience. (...) Over time it is possible to move people’s attitudes and beliefs a great deal.”

Creating a new cookbook with background information is a highly creative process. The cookbook itself is not a new idea though, but to tailor it to people in a certain city is quite a new approach. As Robinson1 puts it: “Individual creativity is almost always stimulated by the work, ideas and achievements of other people.”  For this creativity it is important to be free to experiment to get leaded by feelings, intuitions and imagination, but in the same way also by practical skills, knowledge and control. Creativity is a long process but in the end it should result in something that was worth all the time you put into it. This, we will see in the end of may.


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