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Matsystemer, helse og økologi i Bhutan: en komparativ etnografisk tilnærming (EATWELL)

About the project

Food systems—food from production to digestion and related contexts—contribute significantly to disease and environmental degradation. Hence, transforming food systems is thus key to improve sustainability and health, and requires attentiveness to the physical and meaningful aspects that affect food production and consumption. This project seeks to enrich the current sustainable-food-systems-for-health agenda by including important socio-cultural aspects besides the more common nutritional, biological, ecological, and technological aspects in the development of an integrated approach to food system.

EATWELL pursues this holistic ambition with Bhutan as our informative and critical case. In a first stage, we will examine and describe the food system in the cultural heartland of Bhutan, exploring the cultivation, foraging, herding, eating patterns and the like. We will thereafter examine why the food system is constituted the way it is by examining its connections with broader environmental, cultural, and religious factors. After describing and explaining how food systems and practices are constituted, we will investigate their effects on nutrient intakes. In a second stage, we will scale-up this examination of the food system to additional sites across Bhutan. The methods for investigation entail ethnography, nutritional surveys and extended ethnographic nutritional case studies.

The project has following key aims:

  1. Turn food systems approaches more sensitive to local environments and cultures,
  2. Learn from Bhutan’s approach to happiness and environment as they have been key in developing a more socially-oriented approach to development,
  3. Improve health and nutrition in a culture-sensitive way by engaging stakeholders and relevant actors and end-users in Bhutan, and
  4. Craft a model of food system development that contributes to Sustainable Development Goals in a culture-sensitive way and that can be replicated and adapted in different contexts.

The project support these UN sustainability goals

2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-being
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
17. Partnership for the Goals


Granted: kr 12.000.000
Funding received from:
The Research Council of Norway
Project period 2021 - 2027

Contact person

Project partners

  • Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences, Bhutan
  • Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan
  • Sherubtse College, Bhutan
  • Royal University of Bhutan
  • The University of Oslo
  • Oslomet