Nowadays, food lovers are becoming increasingly conscious not only about healthy cooking but also about food production and sourcing methods.
They are more aware of the environmental issues associated with food choices.
To further this movement and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations has designated 18th June as Sustainable Gastronomy Day.
The decision acknowledges gastronomy as “a cultural expression related to the natural and cultural diversity of the world”.
So what exactly is sustainable gastronomy and how does the United Nations define it? Gastronomy is sometimes called the art of food.
It can also refer to a style of cooking from a particular region. Sustainability is the idea that something (e.g. agriculture, fishing, or even preparation of food) is done in a way that is not wasteful of our natural resources and can be continued into the future without being detrimental to our environment or health.
Sustainable gastronomy, therefore, means cuisine that takes into account where the ingredients are from, how the food is grown, and how it gets to our markets and eventually to our plates.
It is an idea that food is prepared in a way that does not harm our environment, is not wasteful of natural resources, and has roots in our culture and local traditions.
The reason Sustainable Gastronomy day is observed is to create awareness of the impact of sustainable choices on the environment and economies.
How can we as consumers make a difference?
According to the UN, by 2050 the world will have over 9 billion mouths to feed. Yet one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted.
We need to be more careful about how we use our natural resources, and we need to be pickier about how we choose our food.
So how can I support sustainable gastronomy? Support the farmers, try local foods during your travels, keep culinary traditions alive, avoid food wastage, and be local in your choices.
By being open to locally grown foods and eating what is in season, you can help shift the buying patterns of local businesses, like restaurants and hotels, and support the area’s fishers and farmers.
Sustainable gastronomy helps to boost an area’s economy, support its farmers and reduce the greenhouse gases and resources used in transporting food.
Buying locally grown products means that there is demand for them and this helps farmers maintain their livelihoods.
Sustainable gastronomy is not only a way forward to preserve our planet and its rich flora and fauna for future generations, to conserve our biodiversity, but it is also a healthier way of life, given the fact that our generation battles with various lifestyle diseases. Sustainable gastronomy could be a potential game-changer for the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of communities and regions.
It can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including by promoting agricultural development, food security, nutrition, sustainable food production, and the conservation of biodiversity.