Taste and traditions are combined with food sustainability in “gastronomic stewardship”

Food and sustainability

Taste and traditions are combined with food sustainability in “gastronomic stewardship”

Taste and traditions are combined with food sustainability in “gastronomic stewardship”

Gastronomy takes on a whole new meaning, becoming an effective tool for limiting food waste and for changing the way we currently produce and consume food, which often pays little regard to the environment and food sustainability.


Serving up products full of flavour, rich in culture and compatible with the principles of food sustainability for the best possible management of the production chain: this is the main goal of gastronomic stewardship – a new way of looking at food and agri-food systems which involves everybody, from the producer to the end consumer. “Collaboration between all the stakeholders involved, from the farmer to the chef, is not just possible, but is necessary if we want to achieve our goal”, explained the experts who gathered in Stockholm for the Resilience 2017 conference, which dedicated a session to discussing gastronomic stewardship. 

Protecting the environment by eating well

Can gastronomy, or the art of good cooking, really make a difference by promoting a system of environmental sustainability in agri-food production which is also beneficial for individuals? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’, but there are many arduous challenges to overcome in order to ensure the widespread adoption of gastronomic stewardship and the reduction in food waste. Food has a central role, both directly and indirectly, in almost all our choices and gastronomy, a cultural phenomenon and sensory experience could inspire consumers to change their eating habits, encouraging them to explore the close connections between food, the art of cookery and a healthy and sustainable environment. One example among many involves seasonality, the fight against food waste and the use of local products. 

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Nowadays, no product can be considered truly ‘rare’. Globalisation means that we can get hold of anything we want at any time of year”, explains Paul Svensson, Swedish chef and author. He describes what he thinks the relationship between chefs and agricultural producers should look like: “Rather than going to the farmer with a shopping list, we should ask them what products are available that day, bearing in mind that even the less attractive parts of vegetables can be made into exquisite and environmentally-friendly dishes, with a view to reducing food waste”. 

Gastronomy for the masses

One of the main criticisms of gastronomic stewardship is the elitism which the western world often associates with gastronomy, far removed from environmental sustainability and – in many people’s minds – made up of elaborate and intricate dishes, unsuited to most people’s tastes and only affordable for a small percentage of society. 


In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, as demonstrated in the book "With our own hands", winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for cookbook of the year, described by the judges as “revolutionary”. What started out as a book of traditional recipes from the remote mountainous region of Pamir – one of the poorest areas in central Asia – turned into a cultural journey through local gastronomy. “It all started when an old woman asked us to write down the recipe of a soup made from at least six different types of beans and cereals from the region”, explain the authors of the book, whose final version contains over 100 recipes written in three languages, so they can be understood by the local people of Pamir. Having lived alongside the locals for years, the authors explain that the biodiversity of the region is in danger of disappearing because of the arrival of refined flours, which are easier to source. “It is not enough to conserve old seed varieties in a special seed vault. Food is also central to history, culture and tradition”, they point out, quoting an old Pamir saying which nicely summarises the concept of environmental sustainability based on food: “If you don't respect bread, you don't respect life”.

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