Regions of Gastronomy

Focus Areas

Feeding the Planet

Good and healthy food for everyone is our mission. There is enough food to feed the world if we protect its biodiversity but, food kilometres, changes in farming and food waste are contributing to unsustainable practices that need to be reconsidered. It is estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will have exceeded 9 billion people (currently it is more than 7 billion) and considering that currently we have a critical situation in which more than 25,000 people die from hunger every day, we need urgent discussion and action related to food security, global trade, food distribution, emergency aid, food waste and food production. As an example, in order to support food production, we especially need to take care of bee populations that are responsible for pollinating 70% of the plants that supply our food. In support of the Sustainable Development Goals, IGCAT’s Regions of Gastronomy aim to stimulate debate about the production of sufficient and healthy food for everyone.

Innovation, Creativity and Job Opportunities

Inevitable globalisation of food markets poses both threats and opportunities for sustainable regional food systems. Depending on how this is managed, we see the possibility of generating new, flexible and fulfilling jobs in communities. Regional producers can expand their markets, providing they can highlight the added-value of local products and take advantage of growth in specialist and niche food markets. Story-telling and linkage to a region’s artists, landscapes, crafts and traditional or contemporary culture can generate both new products and services. Trends suggest that travellers are increasingly aware of and take responsibility for their actions, and therefore generating information, in creative formats, to enable them to enrich rather than damage local cultures is imperative. Harnessing the opportunities to market products to visitors can be complemented by digital platforms that assist producers in creatively capitalising on their unique food heritage. In order for this to happen, new ways of working and different skill sets are required, and life-long training to ensure future job opportunities becomes paramount.

Educating for our Future

Supporting calls by intergovernmental bodies for gastronomy and food to be re-integrated into education curriculums, the Regions of Gastronomy is based on principles of collaboration with the education and knowledge sectors. These collaborations are vital for the dissemination of information about the importance of regional gastronomy, not just for our economies but for our future health and well-being. Ensuring good food for everyone starts with understanding the importance of local and healthy food options. Educating for responsible production and consumption as well as instilling pride in local food culture is crucial for its long-term survival. Obtaining quality education in food is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. It is the only way to ensure that good food can reach everybody.

Balanced and Sustainable Tourism

Regional gastronomy provides a wealth of diversity, not just in terms of different foods, but also in the many ways of eating, presenting and serving those foods. Traditions developed over centuries form the vital ‘DNA’ of food cultures and represent important potential sources of innovation in the service and hospitality industries. Raising awareness in hospitality industries about the advantages of integrating local food, recipes and traditions into the tourism offerings and collaborating with food and cultural events services in the region will contribute to greater environmental, economic and cultural sustainability. Quality and responsible tourism benefits communities when it is managed well, because visitors to the region are potential customers for food products longer-term. Visitors are also the best marketeers for the region thanks to social media. Smart strategies to provide exciting visitor experiences and incentives to post on social media will give the region unprecedented visibility for a fraction of the costs of traditional promotional methods. Supporting quality gastronomy tourism initiatives therefore can have the added advantage of ensuring that tourism income can reach rural areas where it is often needed more.

Linking Urban and Rural

Recent years have seen a growing divide between rural and urban areas, particularly in the fields of food and culture. People in urban settings are increasingly no longer aware where the food they eat comes from and lack knowledge to understand the spiritual and cultural significance of food related rituals that have often sustained their communities for centuries. The aim is therefore to re-connect rural and urban environments by bringing the countryside to the city and the city to the countryside, thereby encouraging a re-valorisation of traditional and indigenous knowledge of food customs and systems. Projects that provide an opportunity to re-connect rural and urban environments also connect citizens and foster social cohesion.

Well-being and Healthier Living

Food is vital for health, culture and well-being and therefore efforts to protect local biodiversity should be a priority. Gastronomy is the art of eating well and, by using creativity to showcase wholesome and healthy regional and local food, we hope to contribute to a more holistic approach to well-being. Awareness campaigns on the value of natural farming, food traditions and quality produce can stimulate pride in local communities. Local food often has properties that, over centuries, our bodies have been genetically programmed to function with, and so encouraging the consumption of local food is a benefit for our health. What we put into our bodies is more important than we often acknowledge and yet many people have little understanding of the ingredients that are listed on processed food products. Allergy and property information helps, but a better understanding of food labelling is needed. The nutritional value of local food needs to be revalorised, alongside the health benefits of green and natural spaces. Attention to our natural environment extends to the need to protect land and sea. For example, the need to reduce single-use plastics is urgent, in light of the fact that micro-plastic is now widely acknowledged to contaminate marine life and our food systems. Therefore, we advocate for the promotion of healthier lifestyles through greater citizen engagement.

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