Seminar Explores the Role of Local Gastronomy in Sustainable Tourism

The online seminar highlighted the role of food in connecting tourists with local communities and promoting sustainable development.

On 26 October 2022, UNU-IAS held a seminar on the theme “Local Food and the Sustainable Development”. The online session focused on the crucial role of food in connecting tourists with local communities, and discussed the challenges faced by chefs and food experts in their efforts to achieve sustainability. The event was part of a seminar series on tourism and the SDGs organised by the UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa/Kanazawa (OUIK).

Opening the session, Yuya Tsuda (Research Consultant, UNU-IAS) introduced international guidelines on sustainable development for the food and beverage industries. He highlighted the contribution of Washoku to the SDGs, the traditional dietary culture of the Japanese, which has been recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Sayako Koyama (Research Associate, UNU-IAS) pointed out that Japan has been experiencing excessive dependence on food imports, a decrease in fishery resources, and food loss. She explained that the Satoyama Satoumi site on the Noto peninsula, Japan, was a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS), which fostered traditional knowledge to grow, store, and consume food locally. She underlined the importance of promoting traditional food practices and passing them on to future generations.

Culinary researcher Naoko Taniguchi (Director, Kohaku Inc.) introduced her company’s services such as the delivery of local seasonal ingredients and immersive local food tours. She explained that local markets provided opportunities to understand and appreciate seasonality, culinary culture, and the cycle of food production, highlighting the need for food education.

Reflecting on the challenges facing the local food industry, Tatsuro Ume (Head Chef, respiración Restaurant) noted that the ageing of local farmers and fishers made it difficult to procure local ingredients. The lack of successors has caused a loss of skill transfer and culinary culture. He added that chefs should take action to contribute to the sustainable management of Satoyama Satoumi.

Benjamin Flatt and Chikako Funashita (Owners, Flatt’s Restaurant), highlighted that the highly nutritious fermented foods were an important component of Noto’s traditional food culture, exemplifying the wisdom of traditional knowledge. They concluded that communities needed to recognise the value of local culinary culture in promoting sustainable local tourism.