What is behind food ? From the beginnings of agriculture to the supermarket shelf, the products we buy have a fascinating history.
Thousands of years of constantly accelerating evolution, in agriculture as in food processing, trade and eating habits, contribute to the diversity of products available in today's supermarkets. Putting these products in a wider context reveals a long history and an astonishing complexity.
By looking at specific examples, the purchasing section of the museum covers consumption, food safety, traditional and industrial food production, trade, distribution and agriculture. The entire sector resembles a supermarket. The various themes are presented in display cases similar to a retailer's refrigerated compartments.
Processing, conservation and preparation change basic foodstuffs in the making of a meal. These processes are highly complex and vary widely from place to place and at different times. Also they are never neutral: they always reflect individual and social values. So understanding the cultural and historical context of which they are a part is as important as understanding the processes themselves.
The cooking sector presents the history of the hearth and cooking techniques and the various transformations rendering food edible or able to be preserved. A large demonstration kitchen, which is nonetheless productive; gives visitors the opportunity to observe and discuss with professional chefs.
In the interactive kitchen you can take part in a workshop (in French only), permanently animated by professionals.
We have to eat to live. But there is much more to food and eating than that. Cultural conventions decide which of the digestible substances of plant and animal origin that are theoretically available are in fact used as food in a society. Symbols and the status we attach to foods are just as important as nutritional value, enjoyment and meaningful communication.
The section of the Museum questions the relationship between man and his food, discusses renouncing food, informs about balanced diets and presents four examples of mealtimes in different eras and regions of the world. This section also takes a look at the evolution of tableware and eating out, in restaurants or on the street. The real thread to follow through this part of the exhibition is the dining table - it is the central element of each display, albeit in a great variety of presentations.
Digesting is quite an adventure ! Test your five senses, explore the digestive tube with a 3D film, assess your metabolism, exert some energy and analyse your eating habits.
After having solicited all our senses, ingested food is then decomposed in the digestive tube. Nutrients are absorbed into and transported by the blood, to provide energy to live and building matter for the body. These biological facts are portrayed in a more general, cultural, political and social framework. Judgements on appropriate diets, the notion of well-being and the importance of sport are made in this context.
This sector of the Museum invites visitors to test their senses, explains how digestion occurs what the role of metabolism is - cycles of matter and energy - and presents different types of 'eaters'. Here more than anywhere else in the museum, the visitor is the centrepiece, with his own body becoming both the subject and the object of the exhibition.
This is the only room in the building preserved with its original splendour. From 1921 to 1930, it was the office of the Director General of the Nestlé & Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Company. Sadly Henri Nestlé never saw the building as he died thirty years before it was built. Today, this room highlights the great adventure Henri Nestlé embarked on in 1867, when he changed the food industry with his invention of infant food.
Did you know that three food products consumed worldwide today were invented in Vevey? This lakeside Swiss town is the birthplace of baby milk, milk chocolate and Nescafé. Advertisements, photos, former packaging, written accounts and artefacts from the Museum’s collections and from the Nestlé Company’s historical archives all serve to outline the main chapters leading to the four main pillars of the Nestlé group today: dairy products, chocolate, culinary food products and beverages.
Henri Nestlé was born Heinrich Nestle in Frankfurt Germany in 1814. He moved to Vevey and qualified as a pharmacist’s assistant in 1839. Henri Nestlé later set up his inventor’s workshop behind the Vevey train station, an area known as Les Bosquets. This then became the site of his infant food factory. In 2016, the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Nestlé Group included the inauguration of a company museum on the very same spot.