Rekindle a relationship with food! Gastronomy tourism practices allow for the tourist to foster a reconnection with food sources and information. In a society of convenience where so many have lost their connection to the sources of food, this ability to reconnect is extremely valuable.
Gastronomy tourism as defined by The Committee on Tourism and Competitiveness of World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is a ‘type of tourism activity which is characterized by the visitor’s experience linked with food and related products and activities while travelling. Along with authentic, traditional, and/or innovative culinary experiences, Gastronomy Tourism may also involve other related activities such as visiting the local producers, participating in food festivals and attending cooking classes.’
Gastronomy tourism, or food tourism, put simply is the practice of touring for culinary, or food, experiences unique to the destination region or area. Gastronomy tourism in a sustainable way, involves the practice of actively working to avoid the depletion of natural resources while enjoying localised culinary delights.
There are several ways that the gastro tourist can engage in a sustainable way. One could consider that sustainable gastronomy tourism has a focus on the utilisation of locally grown produce which is all the better if the produce is organic or somehow otherwise made or caught locally or prepared traditionally.
Visit where the food is grown
and participate in the process
Participation activities are steadily increasing in popularity. The possibility to take a village stay and participate in daily activities can include in many places, assisting with the daily tasks on tea or coffee farms. This ability to engage in local farming activities is of high value as not only a learning experience, but also to connect with the source of one’s food and the culture and history surrounding it. Most times, after a day’s helping with the farming, local food dishes will be offered by the hosting families. For the sustainable culinary tourist, this is always a delight!
Be aware that food is not always grown only on rural farms. In an effort to mitigate emissions, many localities have opted for a more immediate solution, especially in cities where the availability of vast farmland is scarce. This solution lies in rooftop gardens, microgreens and indoor solariums. A surprising amount of food can be grown, harvested and made into amazing culinary creations in these spaces. Spatial planning and growing methods have been maximised and it can be quite amazing how much can actually be generated in smaller spaces.
Eating locally produced food is, of course, one of the main purposes of gastronomy tourism. Tourism destinations are full of brightly lit, intimidatingly large restaurants which cater solely to the tourism sector. As regards gastronomy tourism practices, these tourist-laden buffets would be avoided, and instead the gastro tourist would opt for a more localised approach to food. After all, foodies are said to be on the constant search for new, relevant and uniquely local cuisine.
The appeal of eating locally sourced and produced foods is multi-faceted. Not only is the traveller contributing to the community, but is able to be involved with the community. Local foods are generally acquired by visiting off-the-beaten-path establishments which are often frequented by and quite popular with the locals. Most times the traveller finds themselves immersed in conversation with their newly discovered local friends who wish to help the traveller make the best decisions for tasting the recommended dishes.
Eating locally also means that sometimes, the dish may not always be available. This is especially true with ‘catch of the day’ – meaning exactly that the protein item is what was caught that day and it is remarkably fresh, although sometimes it is possible that nothing was caught that day and therefore the sought item is not available. The travellers ability for flexibility and understanding in these circumstances and in such things as seasonal produce availability is appreciated and adds to the travellers gastronomy tourism experience and knowledge.
Incorporate the practices into one’s own lifestyle
Sustainable practices related to food, such as foraging for wild edibles, can be incorporated into one’s own lifestyle with ease. Wild edibles can range from edible weeds and wild herbs to mushroom and berry picking. Learning about these practices throughout one’s gastronomy tourism enable the traveller to live themselves a more sustainable and local food- focused lifestyle if they so choose.
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