Science of co-eating

How is the Ancient Roman army connected to our weekly communal dinners in CPH Village? We’ve taken a peek into the science of sharing a meal.

Do you sometimes find yourself preparing a delicious meal only eat it in 10 minutes staring at your laptop? Or do you often end eating pasta with canned sauce just because you feel uninspired or too busy to care?

You are not the only one ‘grazing’, as researchers call the modern phenomenon of eating in a manner similar to animals. We eat a little bit here and there and don’t organise an actual meal with someone. There is, however, also a growing trend towards using canteens and communal kitchens to share a meal with a group of people.


In CPH Village we love to prepare and eat a meal together every Sunday, but what does the research say about the actual benefits of communal eating? We dug into research from food sociologist and professor Lotte Holm from the University of Copenhagen to get some scientific insight on the topic.

Sharing a meal on a regular basis, she claims, is central to sustaining a good community. During a meal, we connect to people, form relationships and reinforce friendships. “The meal is the medium through which a community is reproduced on a daily or weekly basis”, Lotte explains. She continues, “and the preparation of a meal with other people is a manifestation and confirmation of the strong social bonds created around the table.”

“The meal is the medium through which a community is reproduced on a daily or weekly basis” - Lotte Holm, food sociologist and professor at the University of Copenhagen.

Apparently, preparing and sharing a meal has always been a uniting factor, and is integrated to all sorts of social events. Here lies the connection to the Roman Army; the word community comes from the latin communes and refers to the food supply system of the Roman army, just around two millennia ago.

Long-table dining with Kulturtårnet.

Long-table dining with Kulturtårnet.

Villagers sharing a bonfire meal.

Villagers sharing a bonfire meal.

In CPH Village, we celebrate diversity and aspire to create diverse communities because we can learn from people who are different to ourselves. Our interpretation of Lotte’s research is that food is the spark that ignites getting to know each other and strengthening ties that might result in more co-creation and quality co-living. “People who don’t share that many interests will be able to discover new common ground sharing a meal together”.

Put the science to the test and find the next co-eating event in our calendar. For inspiration on how to organise your own co-eating club, have a look at our journal entry on the Village Food Club “Madklubben”.

Åsmund Hogstad