Dish the Dirt

Transitioning to a new food culture for Scotland through experience design

Dish the Dirt is a pop-up multi-sensory tasting experience connecting the food we eat to the land it is grown in. Using a range of techniques such as sound, smell, touch and taste in the experience, along with bespoke ceramics for different sensory platings, people are encouraged to connect their dinner and the land it came from. Diners are provoked to taste, think, and feel something different about the value of high-quality, nutrient-dense soil and how it impacts their food.

Using experience design techniques and gastrophysic science for the senses around food. Dish the Dirt offers a different way to connect people to the systemic problems of the food system and soil degradation. Rather than a workshop or lecture, Dish the Dirt taps into people’s emotions and creates a visceral experience that means they develop memories or think and feel something different when eating and experiencing soil.

“I was shocked by how little knowledge I had of the soil, how little I felt connected to something that I now know is so significant. I will be thinking about this when buying food in the future” – Eve, Diner at Dish the Dirt Prototype

Dish the Dirt is not necessarily about point blank learning; it is about subtle changes to the way people think and how they connect themselves to the environmental issues and the system that needs changing. This is derived from research both for this project and drawing on research from my dissertation. My research showed that people don’t want to feel bad when learning about these issues, particularly around food.

“Having the soil at the experience really changed it for me. I always thought Organic was a buzzword until I actually saw it! I could see the impact it might have on my food!” – Matthew, Diner at Dish the Dirt Prototype

To help people think about how their food choices impact the land in Scotland, the environment in Scotland, and their health, Dish the Dirt connects people to the emotional elements of these things. Showing food and soil side-by-side in a completely innovative way, using hand-made earth derived ceramics to change the way we eat and bringing together producers, consumers, farmers and citizens to have conversations around the table.

Why is Dish the Dirt needed; we are losing our soils at an alarming rate, and our soils are nutrient deficient and depleted. Dish the Dirt aims to change the value of food and land and make people more aware of the need to protect and value them both. Not a workshop, but a delightful experience that people can enjoy and explore the incredible importance of soil and food in Scotland.

Starting Experience

A 6-course tasting experience that showcases food and soil through taste, smell, sound, touch and sight. An example menu of a pop-up experience in Glasgow

Soundbite from a farmer

Conventional Farming is like life support

Experiential Eating

The relationship between different food and soil. This bespoke plate made from ceramics has 3 varieties of potato for the Dish the Dirt diner to experience. Alongside regenerative soils

Soundbite from a farmer

Soil is a living medium, but it is being ignored by farmers

Experiencing soil

Diner eats two different carrots in comparison, one regenerative and one conventional. They have the two different soils which they can smell and touch whilst eating.

Bespoke soil ceramics

Bespoke ceramics made for different eating experiences, making it easier for diners to compare the different food and soil.

Soils of Scotland

The dining room table covered in regenerative soils and the soils of Scotland for people to experience.

Project Process Journal