Sustainability and Food: How Do They Relate?
Food is a key factor in sustainability; although, unfortunately, it is often dismissed by many companies or "masked" for advertising purposes. Regardless of the type of business (lodging, tour operator or travel agency), a company that practices and promotes sustainable tourism, must have clear policies of environmental and social responsibility that include the food subject.
This term dates back to the early 60’s, when the injustices of the consumer society that has derived from the capitalist system were already notorious. Currently, the unstoppable growth of globalization - which allows us to have access to products from all over the world at ridiculous prices, while the accumulation of wealth continues to accumulate in the hands of multinationals and the workforce earns less - makes a fair trade more necessary than ever.
This practice consists of a fair exchange, in which both parties win by recognizing the importance of the other for the sustainability and progress of a respectful, social and environmentally responsible society. For example, when buying most of our food in large supermarkets, in which the most important is to attract customers with attractive prices, we will surely be supporting an exchange in which the workforce will be earning much less than what we pay for the product and the raw material may not be the healthiest.
On the other hand, if we buy our products in fair trade markets (such as Camari, Wayruro, Salinerito, etc. in Ecuador) or directly from producers, we are paying a fair price that supports companies that pay worthy wages, use clean and high quality raw materials and, and maintain the nutritional traditions of our peoples.
Organic and GMO Free Foods
Another fundamental practice to promote sustainability in food, is to prefer organic foods, which come from clean agriculture and are free of GMOs. Organically grown foods are those in which no chemicals or substances that are harmful to health have been used. GMO free foods are those grown with natural seeds, which have not been genetically modified.
The importance of this practice lies in our health, as well as in the preservation of traditional agriculture and country life. For example, if we buy a GMO free tomato, we can use its seeds to grow a tomato plant and even become self-sustainable in terms of tomatoes; but if we buy a GMO tomato, we can never grow a tomato plant because its seeds are sterile, precisely so that we have to buy tomatoes again.
Buying and consuming GMO foods, just because they are cheaper and aesthetically perfect, means that we’re supporting the fact that the seeds (and in the long term, all crops in the world) are under the control of a few, since nobody can reproduce food from the products they buy or grow. Life in the countryside ends because farmers must buy their seeds from transnationals in each crop, and the human right to food is reduced to a business for which we will have to depend on others for a lifetime.
On the other hand, buying and consuming organic products, free of GMOs, implies supporting traditional agriculture that has fed humanity for millennia, thanks to its intrinsic sustainability due to the infinite cycle of natural seeds. Likewise, the consumption of organic products implies the rejection of agrochemicals that have been proven to have irremediable effects on the health of those who consume them and those who work with them.
Another way to support sustainability through food, is to opt for local products. This is a form of fair trade and environmental responsibility, since in addition to obviating the intermediary and paying a fair price directly to the producer, we are also obviating the environmental cost of transporting the product. That added to the fact that you can meet directly those who grow and / or process your food, and even visit the production space! This practice also contributes to community development, which is one of the pillars of corporate social responsibility.