Sustainable Gastronomy an Opportunity for Innovation

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Sustainable Gastronomy an Opportunity for Innovation

Six to 12 days. This is the average time that it takes for bananas to be shipped to Europe. It’s a minor fact that doesn’t make a change in our choices about fruit and food that travels a long way to reach our kitchens. Yet, how would we react if every product we buy would come with a story that tells how that product grows or if the people working in the sector are satisfied with their job conditions and are treated with dignity? Are there harmful pesticides used? Do their producers protect the environment from chemicals or any type of pollution?

Depending on the ingredients and products used in our food, there are quite a few untold stories in our plates every time we eat.
Asking these questions is important. As the saying goes, first we eat, then we do everything else, food is the most basic thing for a good and healthy life. However, it is much more than just the fuel that powers us to carry on with daily activities. It is an element of local or global cultures. It is a human right, it is a tool for sustainable development. How?

Food links together the three dimensions of sustainable development people, the planet, and profit. Food impacts people’s health as well as land, water, and ecosystems through the development of agriculture, transport infrastructure, and other services such as tourism and agro-food.

A way to promote sustainable development through food is sustainable gastronomy. The United Nations have designated June 18th as the Sustainable Gastronomy Day. This day acknowledges gastronomy as a cultural expression related to the natural and cultural diversity of the world. Regarding the role of sustainable gastronomy the UN highlights that “as the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding across the globe, sustainable gastronomy - celebrating seasonal ingredients and producers, preserving wildlife as well as our culinary traditions - is today more relevant than ever.”
Further on, initiatives and projects linked to this day can play a role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They promote good health, nutrition, food security, sustainable agriculture and tourism, decent work, environment, and biodiversity conservation.

An important feature of sustainable gastronomy is that it highlights the fact that every culture has a role as a crucial enabler for social change, economic growth, and sustainable development.
As an individual, you can get more interested in food quality, production, sourcing, and purchasing. Food sustainability begins with the seed extends through all the links involved in the sector until it reaches the final user. As consumers, we can ask for fully traceable local food and reduce food waste as much as we can.
Facts show that almost one-third of the food produced globally goes to waste, and despite this, there are more than 800 million people that go to bed hungry. In the situation of the world health crisis, this figure is expected to grow.

Different solutions can be applied to reduce food waste. For example, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Albany is turning potentially wasted fruits and vegetables into good-tasting, healthful products. These products are used as edible food wrappers that not only address the problem of food waste but also make people eat more fruits and vegetables.
Apeel is another startup that has developed an edible coating to preserve fruit and vegetable produce longer in the supermarkets. This solution that helps with food waste is also related to the fact that people have changed their shopping frequency due to the fear of COVID-19 spread.

Another sector that’s closely connected to food and gastronomy is tourism. The industry of travel and accommodation has been hardly hit by the pandemic. Now that the sector is preparing to restart, it has the opportunity to change the way how we travel and search for local experiences in ways that help build better a better future for those communities and the planet.
Innovation and entrepreneurship can enable such opportunities. Do you have an idea or project on how to stimulate the agro-food sector and the partnership between agriculture, aquaculture, tourism, education, craftsmanship, and hospitality sectors in your community? Join the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition.

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