Turkey has potential to be a hub for 'sustainable gastronomy'
Turkey boasts profound resources to practice sustainable gastronomy thanks to its natural beauty, traditional recipes, and cultural heritage, according to a culinary expert.
"Turkey's natural beauties, traditional recipes digested over civilizations rooted within the boundaries of the country, cultural heritage, unique ingredients which are grown in diverse geographies and climates, add up to a unique and great asset in sustainable gastronomy," Filiz Hosukoğlu, Culinary Culture Consultant, told Anadolu Agency.
Public and private bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are giving the value that the sustainable gastronomy deserves in Turkey, she stressed.
Hosukoğlu said the collective approach of these bodies created an awareness in the public and every sector in the value chain for sustainable gastronomy.
Saying that the same situation is valid for the world, she added:
"By social media platforms and means, what has been done related to sustainable gastronomy in one country has been disseminated all over the world. Thus, every country achieves its tailor-made goals fitting in their national environment, thus contributing to the sustainable development goals that aim to end some deprivations."
National development plans and strategies in line with the SDGs also serve efforts related to sustainable gastronomy, she stressed.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the term sustainable gastronomy refers to cuisine that takes into account where the ingredients are from, how food is grown and how it gets to markets and eventually our plates.
Acknowledging gastronomy as a cultural expression related to the natural and cultural diversity of the world, the UN General Assembly declared June 18 as Sustainable Gastronomy Day to raise public awareness of sustainable development, the UN noted.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding across the globe, sustainable gastronomy -- celebrating seasonal ingredients and producers, preserving wildlife, as well as our culinary traditions -- is today more relevant than ever," the UN said.
Hosukoğlu also underlined the importance of sustainable gastronomy for health, economy, social welfare, productivity, and innovations.
"Sustainable gastronomy is important, as it matters where your ingredients are coming from, is local economy benefitting, how do the farmers grow food, are they using pesticides and chemicals to increase the harvest, do they know and apply preservation techniques not to waste them, what is the adventure of food from farm to our tables," she said, adding: "All these questions also give signs for the individuals are coping with risks and crisis."
Noting that every decision consumers made in food affected the ecosystem, Hosukoğlu said any advocacy activities around supporting local farmers, trying local food when traveling, following grandmothers' recipes with local ingredients and focusing on zero-waste in the kitchen was key to sustainable gastronomy at the individual and corporate level.
Cooking and producing by traditional methods, slow food activities, and applying quality conditions are vital for sustainable gastronomy, she said.
"Service, product, or technique should be made into brand to increase the contribution of sustainable gastronomy to the country's economy," Hosukoğlu highlighted.
To create added value and in sustainable gastronomy, some regions with no traditional food culture or products create new types such as fusion cuisine, she added.
"The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 246 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level," according to UNESCO.
Moreover, Turkey's Hatay, Gaziantep and Afyonkarahisar cities are recognized by UNESCO as Creative Cities of Gastronomy.
"The creation of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and cities who joined this network, slow food activities, documentaries on local food culture and local producers, cookbooks featuring traditional recipes and stories around these recipes, increasing the number of restaurants that serve local dishes, research and efforts to determine which foods deserve the geographical designation are good examples that contribute to sustainable gastronomy endeavors at the local, national and international levels," she said.
Turkey's Antep baklava, Aydın fig, and Malatya apricot have received an EU geographical brand.
"Turkey has done a good job on sustainable gastronomy, and this work has been going on," she underlined.
Hosukoğlu suggested that countries should have a national road map for sustainable gastronomy with mid and long-term plans where stakeholders are well-defined to have better and efficient outcomes, adding that authority should implement this plan with a budget.
"There must be a sound and efficient communication; vertical and horizontal at every level of the stakeholders of the sustainable gastronomy entities," she noted.