Food. Probably the “thing” most people can love and hate at the same time; we love to enjoy delicious dishes, but hate to do without it because of special diets. But the spread of TV shows such as Top Chef all around the world gives evidence to our relation with food. Besides, based on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the total food wastage is estimated to amount to 1.3 billion tons annually. But how to be sustainable in our way of consuming food, especially when the reign of monoculture, use of chemicals and international exports are part of our today’s food chain?
Eating organic, buying items with less packaging, become locavore, vegetarians or vegans are some possibilities. However, the challenge here is to remain consistent with what is said and done. Because trend followers telling you as simple argument “I cannot eat meat because animals are so badly treated” or giving you speeches about pets’ welfare, but are delighted when they are offered leather items and are craving for a piece of foie gras, make their action lose total credibility… However, the purpose here is not to highlight once again the hypocrisy (or ignorance) of these people, but to see how food can be a good way of communicating on sustainable lifestyle. This communication is growing; a spin-off of Top Chef TV program dedicated to food waste was broadcasted last autumn in France.
After the rise of vegetarians and the spread of vegans, now let’s make place to… locavores! In our globalized world, getting used to a diet that makes us eat products only produced within an area of 200 km… is quite of a challenge, especially if we are living in a big city. Not only getting provisioned is difficult, but temptation is also everywhere and so accessible! Although the economic benefits can be discussed, being locavore is a sustainable way of consuming, since it contributes to carbon emissions reductions – less transports in the whole supply chain – and supports local farmers. However, locavore does not mean being an organic-food consumer, since products to be consumed do not need to be organically grown. In France, a TV program “200km à la ronde” (within 200 km) – an adaptation of the Canadian program “The 100 Mile Challenge” – was broadcasted in 2012, where 5 families were followed during their locavore month and tips for new habits were given. Imagine an adaptation in Istanbul. No tea breaks anymore (!) since tea would be out of the diet, even if Halkalı and Tuzla are considered as departing points for the locavore limit. But good point, organizations may (finally) become efficient!
France is well-known for its gastronomy and love for good meals. After all, Michelin guide is a French creation and an international reference! But how to conciliate gastronomy with sustainability? Where serving only organic dishes or meals made from locally grown products can be a business risk, some French chefs dared to go further. Jean Montagard is promoting vegetarian cuisine for over 25 years. His first vegetarian restaurant, L’Artisan Gourmand, opened in 1978 in South of France! Other grand chefs followed such lead. In 2001, Alain Passard removed red meat from the restaurant L’Arpege’s menu to focus on vegetables; Alain Ducasse, did the same last September at his famous Plaza Athénée and Joel Robuchon planned to offer a vegetarian cuisine at his L’Atelier in Mumbai (initially scheduled for end 2014). Got hungry?
Not vegan, but vegetarian restaurants offer fish and seafood. But, as you may know, there is a season for fish and all fish are not equal. For example, the deep-sea perch (hoplostethus atlanticus) can start reproduction at the age of 30, whereas sardines can reproduce from 2. Facing overfishing, some restaurants are offering season’s fish only and some retailers are even offering labelled Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fish. BLOOM, a French NGO, which aims to protect the oceans by raising awareness about environmental issues, has established in 2013 a ranking of French supermarkets based on criteria related to ethical fishing. After the Michelin Guide, the BLOOM guide?
Ugly but so tasty
Because beauty is unfortunately associated with quality, selling ugly food would be unthinkable. The look is the most used marketing technique to attract consumers, such as nice green packaging with real labels or labels-wannabe. A sense, like the taste, is hard to materialize as selling tool. With the label “Les gueules cassées” (the broken faces) and then “Quoi ma Gueule?” (You got a problem with my face?), the French association Les gueules cassées have found a solution against food waste. Because they are ugly and do not match with the standards, fruits and vegetables are thrown away. And this represents more than 30% of French agricultural production! In the UK, Waitrose sold last Summer varieties of apples grown in their farms in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, which were hit by bad weather in early 2014 and left 70% of their total crops damaged according to The Independent.
Unfortunately in our superficial world, the label that would be the most successful might be: “Eaten by Kim Kardashian” or maybe “Look like Kim”! Inspired by the success of my previous article in terms of clicks, another possibility could be to create packaging that reminds us bottoms like did a fruit vendor from Nanjing, China, for the Qixi festival! What do you think?