June 18 is observed as World Sustainable Gastronomy Day. It is an initiative by UNESCO and FAO to create public awareness of its contribution to sustainable development.
For most of us, Gastronomy is a new term. What does it mean? It is the practice or art of choosing, cooking and eating good food.
That’s fine. But why should this concern the food lovers?
Let me just spill out few facts that have been recorded to better understand the significance of Gastronomy.
- According to United Nations, Food Waste consumes
- 21% of all fresh water.
- 19% of all fertilizer.
- 18% of cropland.
- 21% of landfill volume.
- If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, following the USA and China.
These data implies the intensity of the problem of food wastage, starvation, poverty, climate change and much more.
They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. But still, there are numerous people who don’t get food to eat. Then, how can humanity flourish? This day recognizes gastronomy as a powerful cultural expression that interlinks 3 aspects of sustainable development – People, Planet and Profit – showing a way to reach our development goals through our stomachs. In addition, this promotes
- Agricultural development;
- Food security;
- Conservation of Biodiversity;
How can Foodies contribute?
Simply get committed to gastronomy, i.e., take up responsibility in production and consumption of food.
- Shop local and buy from community supported agriculture/food stores to prevent food from travelling unnecessary distance.
- Encourage local producers to produce organic vegetables.
- Avoid wastage of food and prefer home composting of household food waste.
- Reduce the usage of processed and packaged food.
- Search for recyclable packaging.
- Remember ‘Best Before xx’ ≠ ‘Throw Away After xx’.
- Commit to reduction in energy consumption; the best is to promote clean energy sources to cook at local restaurants
- Look out for underutilized traditional crops and encourage their cultivation to bring in diversity.
- Maintain food quality using ingredients, cooking techniques and preservation methods that are respectful to environment.
- More importantly, do not buy more than the need.
It may not be possible for all of us to directly convey these to the producers or other concerned stakeholders (i.e., farmers, retailers etc.). Spreading awareness through simple posts, discussions, chit-chats with friends, or just displaying a poster in local restaurants may help this issue to be considered by masses. Our simple measures can bring in huge impacts in
- Reduction of poverty;
- Efficient use of resources;
- Environmental safeguard; and
- Protection of cultural values and diversity.
It’s time for the food lovers to unite! Help enhancing the Natural and Cultural Diversity of the world in a sustainable manner, instead of just boasting ourselves as food lovers or foodies (without even actually trying out different cuisines or menus). This can save our generations as well as the Planet Earth.