As the old proverb goes, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” so it’s not just a coincidence that this first-ever UN sanctioned international celebration lands on Father’s Day 2017. Co-authored by Peru and 37 UN member states, Sustainable Gastronomy Day acknowledges that gastronomy is a powerful cultural expression deeply connected with the three dimensions of Sustainable Development – people, planet and profit.
Reaching Sustainable Development Goals through our Stomachs.
“Sustainable”gastronomy can play a role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, by promoting agricultural development, food security, nutrition, sustainable food production and better food choices and in so doing aids in the conservation of biodiversity. Who knew that fancy food could do so much? (photo – UNMIT/Perret)
Foodie as a Force
Nowadays, food lovers are becoming increasingly interested in food quality, food production methods, food sourcing and purchasing and healthy cooking. They are also more aware of the environmental issues associated with our food choices. The megatrend “sustainability” in the food sector involves not only consumers, producers and retailers, but extends to eateries. Restaurants can be a powerful medium to get the message to clients, tourists and foodies about the need to develop a truly sustainable awareness toward our daily food choices. (photo – bazar-restaurant and hotel-Rotterdam)
How Can Restaurants be More Sustainable?
Restaurants working towards a more sustainable food ethic are taking actions and making choices that reinforce their sustainability by:
- Shop locally grown vegetables and fruits, that are organic and fully traceable.
- Commit to small and local suppliers who use or promote sustainable agriculture techniques.
- Train staff on sustainable seafood practices as Liz Cunningham reported in her wonderful book Ocean Country.
- Choosing exotic products where origin, production and transport can be fully traceable.
- Offer organic vegetarian and vegan recipes to reduce CO2 footprint.
- Consider animal produces as flavorings or additions and not the main event.
- Buy sustainably-raised meat, fully traceable.
- Raise awareness of clients on menu choices that are respectful of the environment.
- Apply kitchen practices that use some ingredients that would, otherwise, be thrown away for aesthetic reasons and for being too ripe.
- Use specific cooking techniques and preservation methods, to maintain food quality.
- Commit to reduction in energy consumption.
- Practice food recycling, composting and converting unused foods into jams or sauces.
- Search and use recyclable packaging.
- Reduce the use of processed and packaged foods.
- Negotiate agreements with markets, supermarkets and small stores to give a second life to their unused products.
- Commitment to foreign organizations that follow sustainable production methods.
What You Can Do and Don’t
You can follow many of the practices above, like buying local whole, organic foods at farmer’s markets and at supermarkets that carry local food, and buy less packaged foods. Choose sustainable fish and seafood using recognized sustainable seafood guides and certification labels like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). But a big thing you can do is a DON’T! Don’t be wasteful! (photo – Greenpeace)
According to a Guardian report, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting one third of all foodstuffs. (photo – Flickr/LYSCDE)
Globally, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of all food grown is lost or wasted, an amount valued at nearly $3 trillion. And it directly impacts our climate: According to sustainable food expert Anna Lappe, author of Diet for a Hot Planet.
“If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after the United States and China!”
The Take-Away is Simple.
Don’t buy more than you need; use what you have, consume what’s in your vegetable drawer before it wilts and rots, make lunch to take to work, use your leftovers, and compost food scraps. Your leftovers matter! It reminds me of the old parenting cliche that guilts kids into eating their vegetables by saying “There are starving people in Africa! You should be grateful for this food to eat!”
There are Starving People in Africa!!
Well Dad was right. There are starving people all over the world, and our wasteful approach to food is unsustainable for Earth and all of us who live on it. To be a sustainable gastronome and blue planet afficionado, your goal is to eat your veggies (fresh, locally grown, organic preferred)! To get you into the sustainable foodie vibe, try this delicious Broccoli Stalk Salad recipe using all those broccoli stalks you are accustomed to throwing away! (photo – myrecipes.com)
By Laurie Wilson, Blue Ocean Network
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