World Sustainable Gastronomy day (WSGD) is celebrated on the 18th of June every year to recognise the practices associated with sustainable food consumption. This involves considering where the ingredients come from, how food is grown, and how it can get to markets and eventually to plates in a sustainable way. One third of the food produced in the world is wasted from farm to fork; in this context, WSGD was established to draw the world’s attention to the role that sustainable gastronomy can play in terms of sustainable development.
Gastronomy is also known as the art of food and includes exploring cuisines or cooking styles from a particular region. WSGD acknowledges the social, cultural, and artistic expression related to gastronomy and is dedicated to sustainable cuisine that promotes food security, agricultural development, sustainable food production, nutrition, and the conservation of biodiversity.
To raise awareness about WSGD 2023 and the importance of sustainable gastronomy, FSNet-Africa interviewed researchers based at the University of Pretoria who specialise in this field. Prof. Naushad Emmambux and Prof. Riëtte de Kock, both from the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, were interviewed.
|FSNet-Africa: What WSGD mean to you, why do we celebrate it and why is it important?|
|Riëtte: Until now, l was not aware of WSGD. Now that l know about it, l plan to celebrate it, going forward. WSGD is an opportunity to consciously reflect on what food is consumed, how it is produced and the consequences of human food consumption behaviour on the future of our planet. It is important as it opens up debates around the factors that influence food choices of individuals, households and communities in different countries and cultures.|
|Naushad: WSGD is all about good food for health and well-being, food produced and prepared using ingredients that are produced using less carbon footprint.|
|FSNet-Africa: What practices or principles do you associate with the concept of sustainable gastronomy?|
|Naushad: Using food ingredients manufactured using minimal processing and using green chemistry and technology. For example, using GRAS status chemicals to modify starch for low-glycaemic-index foods and low-fat foods. Other examples include using edible and biodegradable plastic in foods; using less sugar, salt and fat in foods; and using indigenous and locally available ingredients, especially climate-resilient ones.|
|Riëtte: Sustainable agronomy is making the most of the food sources available, including choosing local, indigenous and/or indigenised food ingredients; using sustainable food sourcing practices; employing food processing technologies resourcefully to meet consumer needs for nutritious, affordable, safe, convenient, filling and tasty food; and limiting food waste.|
|FSNet-Africa: How can sustainable gastronomy be linked to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?|
|Riëtte: Food is so much more than something that fills the stomach, easing hunger. It is a means to sustain the body (nutrition); it is essential for cognitive development that is necessary for access to education. Sustainable food consumption contributes to our wellbeing and our ability to cope with the pressures of daily life, while sustainable food production creates employment opportunities for many (especially women and the youth) and leads to economic growth.|
|Naushad: SDG targets that are influenced by sustainable gastronomy include:
|FSNet-Africa: Could you outline practical steps ordinary people can take (your call to action) to raise awareness and support the cause of WDSG?
|Riëtte: Small practical steps for ordinary people include planning and budgeting for what you need and want to eat. Make a shopping list and stick to it; look for food items that are in season; compare prices; when buying in bulk, plan how to preserve and process food for consumption later; use flavourings and seasonings to make basic food ingredients interesting and enjoyable. Look out for indigenous African food crops, learn how to use and cook them, and put them on menus. Eat slowly and consciously; take smaller bites, chewing your food properly, making time to release all the flavour, and taking note of all the sensory properties of the food – appearance, aroma, texture and flavour.
As we celebrate World Sustainable Gastronomy Day, it is important that we continue to reflect on the art of food and how we can better contribute to its sustainability.