Art of Food meeting discusses food and cultural diversity

The Art of Food meeting held on 17-19 November in Sant Pol de Mar (Catalunya) gathered experts from 11 different countries to discuss the growing convergence between food, art, culture and tourism.

One of the key issues emerging from the discussion was the need to maintain the diversity of culture and food. Both are threatened by globalisation and the growth of industrial scale production. In particular food diversity is crucial. A study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture shows that over the last five decades, human diets around the world have grown more similar—by a global average of 36 percent. Growing reliance on a few key crops threatens food security and increases health problems.

As the IGCAT meeting agreed, supporting cultural, social and economic diversity can help to combat dietary convergence and maintain a range of foods and genetic resources for the future. This is essential in finding ways to feed the global population, one of the key priorities identified by IGCAT for its newly launched European Region of Gastronomy Programme.

The event, which lasted three days, was opened by the Mayorness of Sant Pol de Mar at the Foundation Corominas located in the mentioned town and was accompanied by an aperitif and cava sponsored by Freixenet. This session was the starting point of an intense debate among the participants from minstries, regional authorities and knowledge institutions that were able to taste different products of Catalonia.

The event enjoyed the presence and participation of some key speakers including Caroline Couret from Creative Tourism Network; Miguel Gallego, from the European Travel Commission and Jordi Pascual, United Cities and Local Governments. The meeting delegates also enjoyed a visit to the Food and Nutrition Campus of the University of Barcelona, an impressive facility dedicated to the study of food, health and nutrition. The Director, Prof. Màrius Rubiralta gave a guided tour of the facilities of this dedicated campus of the university, and explained their attempts to develop an academic dimension to the study of food and gastronomy. This includes a collaboration with the famous Catalan chef Ferran Adria, who is working on the development of Bullipedia – a project intended to “organise in a clear, ordered and precise way all culinary knowledge”. This will act as a creative resource for the develop of gastronomy in the future, and will also feed into academic programmes at the University.