Note: This is the second part of my series of Consuming Consciously.
Let’s talk about food, a topic that we all love… Well, at least love to eat. We travel because we want to get to know other people’s cultures, see stunning natural sceneries, meet people from all over the world, and of course… To eat some freaking fantastic food that we’ve never encountered at home. One of the reasons why I love to travel is because of food. It’s also one of the reasons I hate to travel – because there’s time I can’t find vegetarian food and I’m stuck with eating stale bread. Nonetheless, food is so important in our everyday lives that we sometimes take it for granted. This is why I want to talk about food, tourism and how we can travel more sustainably if we educate ourselves more about this topic.
We tend to eat more when we travel
At least I do. Whenever I go to Southeast Asia for example, I know I will encounter some incredible cuisine so I want to try everything. The prices there are fair too so I don’t feel bad about eating out all the time. Although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying food, the problem is that we tend to order too much and then throw it away because we literally can’t eat anymore. What’s the harm in throwing a bit of food anyway? Well..
Food waste is a huge problem
As tourism is increasing worldwide, food waste is also increasing with it. Annually, about 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or goes to waste. In addition, food waste is a major environmental, social and economic issue. Of course, not all is to blame on the tourism industry, but it does play an important part in how we can reduce food waste.
Buffets are one of the top generators of food waste
I get it, it’s tempting to go to a restaurant with a buffet (or an all inclusive hotel) because you can choose whatever you want and taste everything. But buffets are also responsible for more than half of global food waste. In order to prevent the food from running out, dishes on the buffet are replaced long before it’s been emptied. This is also to maintain its “beauty” and freshness. The food goes to the bin and the rest is history…
Eat as much locally as possible
Not only will you contribute to the country’s economy and help the locals, you’ll also be able to try some authentic food. If you really want to get to know your destination’s culture, don’t go to the expat restaurants or the newly foreign opened lavish café, but dive right in to the local restaurants and try something new. It’s usually cheaper as well (always great for the poor backpacker!). But if you’re tired of eating local food (which I can relate to), at least go to a restaurant that doesn’t import (at least many) produces but uses what’s seasonal.
Try to eat what’s in season
No matter where you are in the world, take this advice. Now, more than ever, it’s become so important to take every step we can to be more sustainable. Well, eating what’s in season is one of them. You can probably understand why this is necessary. Shipping bananas from Australia to Europe isn’t really environmentally friendly, is it? Besides, many small-scale farmers could benefit from this too, as they can sell their produce to the local tourism sector and improve their livelihoods.
Food is scarce in many countries so appreciate it
Don’t take food for granted. It’s a luxury that some have more access to, especially us in the west. Imagine you’re traveling to… Let’s say in Madagascar, who’s suffering from food scarcity, and you’re checking in to an all-inclusive hotel where you can eat as much food as you want to. Then you have the people outside of this hotel that can barely afford food, let alone afford wasting it. So always appreciate the food on your table, don’t take more than you think you’ll eat in order to reduce food waste, and take a doggy bag if you really can’t finish the food, so you can eat it the day after instead. You’ll also save money this way – win win!
Let’s go over it again…
- Skip the buffets!
- Try to reduce the miles that your food has had to travel by eating locally sourced or seasonal food
- Support the locals by going to local restaurants and cafés
- Switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, or at least eat less meat. Eating a plant-based diet can fight climate change so if you’re serious about being sustainable, then consider skipping meat
- Food is a luxury so don’t take it for granted