Food is the most essential need of man, and thus the most direct link between nature and human culture. Changes in food culture refer to changes in social order and natural environment. Baltic food culture has been researched in different disciplines with different focuses on national and social groups. It is the aim of the project to combine ongoing historical, ethnological and semiotic food research under the umbrella of transnational environmental history. In the interdisciplinary research group, data collected in the different fields of research shall be combined to generate general questions like: What were the main changes in the food culture of Baltic peasants, German upper class and Non-German middle classes in towns and in the countryside throughout history? When did they take place, and how can they be explained? Starting in Estonia, the focus of the project widens step-by-step toward the Baltic Region, Northern and Central Europe, and, last but not least, to global history. Entangled relations between the Baltic world and the outer world help to highlight changes in regional food culture, production and consumption. Ongoing transfers of knowledge, techniques, consumption habits, plants, animals and people connect Estonia and Latvia with the rest of the world. Baltic food history shall be researched as a regional branch of global environmental history.


It is the aim of the project

  • to bring together ongoing research on Baltic food culture into an interdisciplinary and international project
  • to investigate the history of regional food culture in a transnational/transcultural perspective
  • to promote environmental history as a new approach in food research and history in the Baltic countries
  • to strengthen cooperation with international societies on food research and environmental history
  • to develop food research in environmental history
  • to disseminate the outcome of the research in publications in English and Estonian, in public lectures, seminars and film evenings
  • to work on a common data base and to weigh the foundation of an Estonian Center for Environmental History


Principal investigator

  • Ulrike Plath, Phd


Senior research staff

  • Priit Raudkivi (Tallinn University)
  • Inna Jürjo (Tallinn University)
  • Renata Sõukand (Estonian Literary Museum)
  • Ülle Sillasoo (Tallinn University)
  • Kati Lindström (University of Tartu)
  • Ester Võsu (University of Tartu)
  • Riin Magnus (University of Tartu)
  • Raivo Kalle (Estonian Literary Museum)


International conference “Conference Bellies, Bodies, ”Policey” Embodied Environments Between Catastrophes and Control”, Tallinn and Tartu, 10th-12th September, 2014

International conference “Turning Points in Baltic and Central East European Food History – Knowledge, Consumption, and Production in Changing Environments”, Tallinn, 29th–31st August, 2012
Call for Papers