10 Ways to Celebrate Sustainable Gastronomy Day

10 Ways to Celebrate Sustainable Gastronomy Day: chefs as catalysts for change

On Sustainable Gastronomy Day, we celebrate the vital role chefs play in crafting a more sustainable food system. As culinary professionals, chefs possess a unique influence over consumers, driving cultural and behavioral shifts toward sustainable practices. Chefs are not merely creators of exquisite dishes; they are educators, innovators, and advocates for a healthier planet.

Chefs as Influencers and Educators

Chefs have the power to shape public opinion and influence food choices. By promoting locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, chefs can guide consumers towards more sustainable eating habits. The culinary arts can be a conduit for sustainability, fostering a deeper appreciation for traditional food practices that respect natural resources and cultural heritage.

Sustainable Gastronomy Day highlights how chefs, through their creativity and commitment, can address global challenges such as food waste, climate crisis, and the loss of biodiversity. By integrating sustainability into their menus, chefs can be agents of change.

Feed the Planet’s Like a Chef St. Lucia graduates, 2024. Read more here.
Taking Action: 10 practical steps for a more conscious kitchen

Culinary professionals are pivotal in championing sustainability in their kitchens and communities, connecting to a global movement towards a better future. Here are 10 practical steps chefs can take to promote sustainability, protect livelihoods, and foster a sustainable food system:

  1. Source Locally and Seasonally: Explore the journey from farm to fork, and prioritize ingredients from local small-scale farmers and suppliers to support regional economies. Engage with local producers to understand the harvesting schedules and plan menus around seasonal produce. This not only ensures the freshest ingredients but also promotes biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.
  2. Minimize Food Waste: Implement strategies to reduce food waste in kitchens, such as nose-to-tail cooking and repurposing leftovers. Educate kitchen staff on proper storage techniques to extend the shelf life of ingredients. Utilize food waste tracking tools to identify and address key areas where waste can be minimized.
  3. Educate and Inspire: Use your platform to educate staff and customers about the importance of sustainable practices. Share stories about the farmers and producers you work with and the benefits of sustainable sourcing. Create awareness through menu descriptions and signage that highlight your commitment to sustainability.
  4. Engage in Continuous Learning: Enroll in programs like Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals to stay informed about the latest sustainability practices. Attend workshops, conferences, and seminars focused on sustainable gastronomy. Network with other chefs and sustainability experts to exchange ideas and best practices.
  5. Optimize Energy and Water Use: Invest in energy-efficient kitchen equipment and implement practices to reduce water usage. Regularly maintain and update appliances to ensure they operate efficiently. Educate staff on simple habits, such as turning off equipment when not in use and using water-saving techniques during food preparation and cleaning.
  6. Reduce Single-Use Plastics: Transition to reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging and serving materials. Encourage customers to bring their own containers for takeout and provide incentives for doing so. Work with suppliers to reduce plastic packaging for delivered goods.
  7. Promote Biodiversity: Incorporate diverse and heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables, and grains into your dishes. Incorporating beans and legumes into your menu not only promotes biodiversity but also provides a nutritious and sustainable protein source. Experiment with lesser-known ingredients that can add unique flavors and nutritional benefits to your menu.
  8. Engage in Community Outreach: Partner with local food banks and shelters to donate surplus food. Organize cooking classes and workshops that teach sustainable cooking techniques to the community. Participate in local farmers’ markets and food festivals to promote sustainable gastronomy.
  9. Lead by Example: Demonstrate leadership in your kitchens by ensuring fair wages, equal opportunities, and continuous training for your team. Champion women’s empowerment in agriculture and culinary arts, advocating for better representation and support in these fields.
  10. Advocate for Change: Participate in community and industry initiatives that promote sustainable food systems. Collaborate with local schools and organizations to teach children about healthy and sustainable eating. Be a citizen chef by advocate for policy changes supporting sustainable agriculture and food systems.

By embracing these actions, chefs can make a significant impact on global sustainability efforts.

Local to Global: taking your impact to the world stage

Chefs can further this impact by engaging in policy advocacy and public education. By collaborating with governments, NGOs, and industry stakeholders, chefs can influence food policy to support sustainable practices. Participating in forums, policy discussions, and campaigns allows chefs to advocate for a food system that prioritizes sustainability, inclusion, and health.

By reducing food waste, sourcing sustainably, and supporting ethical practices, chefs can contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and SDG 13 (Climate Action). Moreover, by advocating for fair trade, local sourcing, and protecting the livelihoods of farmers and producers, chefs also support SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

On this Sustainable Gastronomy Day, let’s celebrate the transformative power of chefs as agents of change. By taking simple, everyday actions, chefs can lead the way toward a more sustainable and delicious food future for all. Through education, advocacy, and practical action, culinary professionals can make a lasting impact on both people and the planet.

Join Us: how you can inspire change with Worldchefs
The Feed the Planet team, June 2024. Read more about the Feed the Planet partnership here.

“Chefs have become increasingly involved in
the global movement to reduce food waste,
championing food waste reduction efforts in their
own restaurants, as well as empowering local
communities to fight food waste. In June 2018, the
World Association of Chefs Societies (World Chefs)
met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to shed light on the
links between the culinary industry and food waste,
environmental degradation, and hunger.”

Chefs As Agents of Change, FAO and UNESCO Collaboration on Food and Culture

Worldchefs offers resources and education to empower culinary professionals worldwide to be food champions. Whether it be tuning in to Worldchefs’ webcast Sustainability Around the World or exploring Feed the Planet programs, everyone has the opportunity to take action.

One key initiative is Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals, an open-source online curriculum available on Worldchefs Academy. This comprehensive course, consisting of eight lessons, equips chefs with the knowledge and tools to think and act sustainably. Topics range from sustainable sourcing and food waste reduction to energy efficiency and community engagement. By completing this course, chefs can become champions of sustainability, influencing their peers, patrons, and the broader community.

This October, Worldchefs’ global community will gather together in Singapore for the 2024 Worldchefs Congress. Join the discussion surrounding the biggest challenges and opportunities facing culinary professionals and help inspire trends that will shape the future of the hospitality industry.

Check out the Speakers to discover hospitality professionals paving the way toward a sustainable future. Meet industry leaders like Emile van der Staak, Head Chef of Restaurant De Nieuwe Winkel, and thousands of chefs from around the world with a shared commitment to making a difference.

“The food forest was the catalyst for our story around botanical cuisine. We realise that many of the challenges we face come back to our plates. Our food system is one of the biggest drivers of global warming. That’s why we only use plants: botanical gastronomy.” — Emile van der Staak

Register now to expand your network and gain skills for a more conscious kitchen.

Cover image: A plate from Restaurant De Nieuwe Winkel’s current menu: Awakening.

For more on Social Impact in the Kitchen, join us on June 25th to discover the inspiring journey of Jordann Norbert.

A Chef’s Guide to Food as Medicine

A Chef’s Guide to Food as Medicine: a prescription for a paradigm shift
chef hippocrates
food as medicine
culinary medicine
nutrition and health

The notion that healthy diets support good health is by no means a new concept. Hippocrates of ancient Greece, considered the father of medicine, famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This age-old wisdom continues to resonate, reminding us of the profound connection between diet and health.

In today’s world, where a myriad of crises impact our food systems and our health, understanding the role of food as medicine is more crucial than ever. Each meal presents an opportunity to support our health or undermine it, highlighting the importance of food in promoting overall wellbeing.

As chefs, we hold the responsibility of harnessing the power of food to nourish not just appetites but bodies, minds, and communities. Through culinary expertise, chefs have the power to transform ingredients into potent prescriptions for health and food systems transformation. As we delve deeper into the concept of food as medicine, let’s explore how chefs can deliver on this responsibility one dish at a time.

Culinary Medicine: empowering healthier choices

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

― Ann Wigmore
food as medicine
culinary medicine
nutrition and health

The impact of food and diet on health is undeniable. There is an overwhelming body of evidence linking poor diets to diseases like heart conditions, diabetes, and cancer. But food isn’t just a culprit; it’s also a remedy. The evolving field of Culinary Medicine is helping to bridge the gap between allopathic medicine and the healing power of food, marrying the two iconic white uniforms: the chef’s jacket and the doctor’s coat.

Culinary Medicine is a multi-disciplinary approach combining the art and science of food and cooking with the evidence-based practice of medicine. It involves incorporating culinary knowledge such as meal preparation, knife skills, and recipe modification to improve the nutritional quality of the foods. The foundation of that nutrition knowledge and culinary skills is used to help individuals make healthier food choices and improve their health.

Whether it be in the clinic or the kitchen, education is a central tool in advancing conversations around preventative medicine and overall health literacy. Food, a great connector, is a gateway to deeper discussions about health and nutrition, empowering individuals to make informed dietary choices.

With so many people craving information and guidance when it comes to healthy diets, chefs can help bring great nutrition and health literacy to the table. Through educational initiatives led by chefs, communities can gain a better understanding of the role of food in promoting good health and in preventing and managing chronic diseases. By fostering a culture of culinary education and empowerment, chefs can inspire individuals to become proactive stewards of their own health.

From the Clinic to the Kitchen: integrating the science of medicine into culinary tradition
food as medicine
culinary medicine
nutrition and health

Chefs, armed with their culinary expertise, have the remarkable ability to unleash the magic of food by selecting and combining ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds. Take, for example, the vibrant hues of fruits and vegetables, each color representing a unique array of phytonutrients with distinct health benefits. From the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric to the cardiovascular support offered by leafy greens, the palette of possibilities is as diverse as it is delicious.

Incorporating food as medicine into culinary practices not only elevates the dining experience but also empowers chefs to make a meaningful impact on the wellbeing of eaters. It provides a holistic approach to nourishment that celebrates the symbiotic relationship between food and health, without forgetting flavor. Dr. Timothy Harlan, a renowned physician and chef, emphasizes the transformative potential of a ‘food first’ perspective, where chefs bring their creativity to high-quality, nutritious, and local ingredients.

I come to the conversation from a ‘food first’ perspective, not from a clinical perspective, from ‘Look, this has to be great food that just happens to be great for you,’

That’s really interesting when you think about what it means to be a chef and the training that chefs get because you’re using great quality, fresh, and these days more and more local ingredients. In a way that just happens to be healthy. The unique piece for those of us who do what I do for a living is that we come to it from that ‘food first’ perspective.

― Dr. Timothy Harlan

Embracing the concept of food as medicine is not just a trend; it’s a paradigm shift towards a healthier, more sustainable food future. The food as medicine perspective reminds us to reflect on the many roles of food with reverence, and to take action to ensure our food system supports the power of food in better health and beyond.

Citizen Chefs for Citizen Eaters: putting food and health on the policy menu

Food as medicine solutions are undeniably making strides in improving health outcomes, yet it’s crucial to acknowledge that they are not a silver bullet. While Culinary Medicine holds tremendous potential, it must be complemented by broader policy changes aimed at enhancing access to and affordability of nutritious and culturally appropriate food options, and greater investments in health education.

Chefs play a pivotal role in advocating for these systemic changes. By championing sustainable sourcing practices, supporting local small-scale family farmers, and advocating for policies that prioritize food equity, chefs can contribute to building a more resilient and inclusive food system.

We need more citizen chefs for citizen eaters—individuals who actively engage in local food systems and advocate for policies that ensure equitable access to nutritious food for all. By becoming informed and engaged in dialogue around policy, we can drive positive change, increase access to nutritious options, and support initiatives aimed at promoting food justice. Through collective action and community engagement, chefs and eaters alike can work towards building a future where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, nourished by a food system that prioritizes health, equity, and sustainability.

food as medicine
culinary medicine
nutrition and health
food policy

Food as medicine represents one piece of the puzzle towards achieving a healthier future. While food as medicine solutions hold immense promise in improving health outcomes, they must be accompanied by systemic changes in food policy and greater investments in health education and access to preventative care.

Worldchefs’ members and food systems actors around the globe are advocating for a more delicious, equitable, and sustainable food system. By embracing the concept of the citizen eater and putting food at the top of the political agenda, we can work together toward a future where everyone has access to nutritious, delicious food for better health and better lives.

For more on Culinary Medicine, tune into our recent podcast episode with Dr. Timothy Harlan: Culinary Medicine: Bridging the Gap Between Food and Health.

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