We're joined by inspiring sustainable kindergarten chef Johan Bredwad. With many years' working as a chef in restaurants behind him, he now devotes all his time to the project that excites him the most: teaching kids from a very young age to respect and understand foods and their origin. We don't mind tagging along with the kids!
Food is the ultimate source of nourishment, but it can come at a high environmental cost. Learning something from a young age is very powerful as we can more easily incorporate it into our daily life as we grow older.
This is why in this week’s interview we were excited to explore the world of sustainable eating together with award-winning sustainable chef, Johan Bredwad. Johan is a chef at a Swedish kindergarten where kids are being taught to grow their own food and how to eat sustainably— a total of 97% of the food they eat is organic!
He shares how teaching kids to think about the whole food chain is incredibly valuable, and how we can start to have a climate-smart diet and make more conscious decisions when buying and preparing our food.
Hi Johan, welcome to A Good Community. Can you tell us how your love for food began? When did you decide you wanted to become a sustainable chef?
It has always existed. As a child, I was constantly my parent's kitchen and have always loved to both eat food and to cook from scratch.
In 2014, I got my current job at the City of Gothenburg and also became involved in the "Learning Sustainable Meals" project. With that, the commitment to both the environment and sustainability has grown stronger.
Lärande Hållbara Måltider “Learning Sustainable Meals” is a fantastic project. Can you tell us more about it?
This organic and creamy cauliflower soup with focaccia on sun-dried tomato looks delicious. Not to mention the beetroot and broccoli salad.
Learning Sustainable Meals is a project in the City of Gothenburg that serves as a support function for schools and kindergartens in all districts. The work is aimed at principals, kindergartens principals, educators and chefs to support them in pedagogical and practical education concerning food, environment, health and sustainability issues.
Why do you think it is important to teach small children about eating right or growing their own food?
From an early age, it's crucial children develop knowledge about food and sustainability and learn exactly how food is made and what you can use it for. You create habits very early in life and a developing good habits regarding what you eat is incredibly important.
Here's some fried fresh mackerel with homemade puree. Pickled cucumber, beetroot, some peas and corn.
We work with something we call "from earth to table", meaning what is put on the table and all the work behind putting it there, for example how the crops were grown and what happens to food before it becomes edible.
Your work tries to support the Sustainable Development Global Goals for 2030 through teaching about sustainable eating since kindergarten. How do you work with this in your everyday?
"The children take part in my work in the kitchen where we bake bread together, examine different ingredients, and practice using all our senses."
I let the conversation about food be an active part of the children's everyday life. The food is always prepared from scratch with a minimal amount of additives. I also always follow the National Food Administration's recommendations in my area. We always serve plenty of vegetables and talk to the children about what and why the food is useful. The children take part in my work in the kitchen where we bake bread together, examine different ingredients, and practice using all our senses. I categorize sources and keep statistics on our waste.
The children sometimes help out to bake the bread. This is an organic sourdough bread with spelt, graham and apples. Apples were the fruit of the month!
We work almost exclusively with organic ingredients and have different theme weeks, such as the seafood week. We also have 'Vegetable of the Month' where I teach the children everything there is to know about a particular vegetable. They keep me on my toes but it's fun!
Do you have any fond memories from cooking with the children or teaching them to grow vegetables?
There are many fond memories, but what stands out most is when I was about to graduate as a meal educator and ran a project where myself and three children cooked a dish using the "step by step method". We chose to make "raggmunk", a potato pancake which is a traditional Swedish dish. We broke everything down into different steps and were finally able to serve the finished product.
The cool thing about this was that the children got an insight and understanding of the whole process, from the cultivation and growth of the potato to how it is served as a delicious potato pancake at the end of the project.
We sometimes take for granted all the different types of food that we have access to in the supermarket, but sometimes some of the food has chemicals or has travelled a long way. Do you have any tips for eating a climate-smart diet?
Getting hungry just by looking at this organic pasta with organic cheese & broccoli sauce.Topped with a raw salad of red cabbage, fennel, carrot and baby spinach with roasted seeds.
People need to learn what a product contains and what was needed to produce it. Often there is more behind a product than you can imagine. You need to cultivate an interest through it a serious commitment to the environment. My suggestion is to start small. Choose a product, for example, a banana, coffee or pepper and read up on the difference between an organic and a non-organic product.
Then choose what you think is best, which will hopefully be organic products, and stick to it. Start eating more vegetarian, maybe beginning with one day a week. Take it step by step and gain an overall understanding of the entire food chain. You'll soon notice how your approach to food begins to change.
Some might think that eating organic food is more expensive or not so accessible. What are your thoughts? Is it possible to eat organic food without having to spend a lot of money?
I think it is largely a matter of lack of knowledge, unfortunately. My advice is to eat things in the right season. Gain knowledge about raw ingredients and how to prepare the raw ingredients correctly. Organic products are usually more "clean" and contain more nutrients, which don’t disappear as much in cooking. In principle, you do not need to eat as much of the organic product as a conventional product to get the same amount of nutrition.
"By shopping organically, you help both the environment and your own body."
The product itself can definitely be more expensive in some cases, but if you take the entire food chain into account, you still win in the long run. By shopping organically, you help both the environment and your own body. Shop smart and extract the product in the right way.
What are your best tips for someone that is not very familiar with cooking or perhaps doesn’t have lots of time to be in the kitchen?
You need to know how to cook smart and easy. The food does not have to be expensive and difficult to cook just because it's organic. Break down your cooking and start simple. A choice few organic and sustainable products can definitely be a healthy and simple dinner without requiring much of your time and energy.
If you want to learn more about Lärande Hållbara Måltider visit their website. You can also watch this short video (it is only in Swedish, unfortunately).