Sustainable Gastronomy Day 2021

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Today is Sustainable Gastronomy Day, an annual United Nations’ observance day dedicated to celebrating seasonal ingredients and producers as well as preserving wildlife and culinary traditions across the world.

Gastronomy often refers to science or art of good eating, while sustainable gastronomy means being mindful where the ingredients come from, how the food is grown and how it gets to our plates.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN General Assembly work to facilitate the observance of Sustainable Gastronomy Day.

This is carried out in collaboration with Member States, UN organisations and other international and regional bodies, as well as civil society, to observe the Day in raising public awareness of its contribution to sustainable development.

Some of UNESCO’s initiatives for today include promoting clean energy for local restaurants, such as using gas and electricity instead of coal and using natural gas rather than carbon and raising public awareness of sustainable gastronomy.

When speaking about sustainable gastronomy, what happens to food that never reaches our plates or the food that’s left on the table also matters. Today is also an opportunity to highlight food surplus, loss and waste across the entire supply chain.

Producing food takes a significant amount of energy, effort, water and natural resources. When we throw food in the bin, we are throwing away all the resources used into making it.

According to United Nations research, more than 930 million tonnes of food sold in 2019 landed in bins.

The study reveals that households discard 11 per cent of food at the consumption stage of the supply chain, while food services and retail outlets waste five and two per cent, respectively.

At the same time, 8.4 million people in the UK are struggling to afford to eat, according to food distribution charity Fareshare. This is equivalent to the entire population of London.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal target 12.3 is to halve food waste by 2030.

According to charity WRAP, further reductions in food waste of 1.8 Mt are needed to achieve this in the UK, 1.3 Mt from homes and over half a million tonnes from across the supply chain.

Several initiatives across the country seek to tackle this, saving food from going to waste.

  • This includes the Real Junk Food Project, which intercepts surplus food from supermarkets, restaurants, wholesalers, food banks and food photographers to be used in various venues, including schools, third sector organisations and catering. Inedible food is either sent to feed livestock or anaerobic digestion, where it’s turned into energy and fertiliser.
  • FareShare is the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, made up of 18 independent organisations. Together, Fareshare takes good quality surplus food across the food industry and delivers it to almost 11,000 frontline charities and community groups.
  • WRAP’s initiative Love Food Hate Waste offers further resources on how to get the most out of every part of your meal, including recipes and tips on preventing food waste, proper food storage and an online portion planner.