The concept of local food is in vogue and there’s a growing lexicon around the industry that’s mushroomed in recent years from “slow food” and “farm to fork” to the politically leaning “localism”. Meanwhile in Europe, despite the naysayers who berate the bureaucracy of the EU, Brussels have been taking bold and important steps in protecting the origin of foods and valuable terroir in a globalized world. The expansion of the French “Appellation d’origine contrôlée” philosophy across Europe is protecting everything from Cornish Pasties to Gorgonzola to Ouzo with the “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI) status. All of this is good news for protecting heritage, promoting healthy and local food and reducing the food miles of a rapacious hospitality industry.
But what does this movement mean for sustainable events and destinations?
Guy and I have been working with a number of venues and events across Europe, Asia and the United States in the transition to more sustainable food sourcing. Particularly here in Singapore it’s thrown out some interesting questions in our work with the Tourism Board. Just what is local to a nation only 710 kilometres square with one of the densest populations in one the smallest countries in the world?
Define your “local”
There is no agreed global definition of local and you’ll find that local food in the US might have travelled a lot further than local food in the Netherlands. Define what makes sense for your event, venue or destination. In the case of Singapore, “local” can’t be limited even just to the same country so we’re looking at Malaysia, Indonesia and even Thailand when considering that the bulk of fruit and vegetables are trucked down the 460 mile/740 kilometre Malay Peninsula, reducing carbon emissions significantly.
Set aspirations & projections early with your suppliers
Anything in life is possible with early preparation and even what once felt like a dream can become a plan with a leap of faith and commitment. Share your aspirations early with your suppliers, your caterer or your local agricultural community and they’ll have time to work towards your goal. In Singapore, the challenge of feeding a growing population is pushing the concept of urban farming to new heights, SkyGreen is the world’s first low carbon hydraulic water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm and 10 times more productive per square foot than conventional farming. Sounds like a dream?
Maximise the strengths of the season
Seasons are unfortunately not one of Singapore’s many strengths but elsewhere in the world the cycles of nature can provide you with a constant source of fresh & flavourful local and sustainable food, be as flexible as possible- serve autumnal mushrooms and game in the fall and fresh berries and fruits in the summer.
The only barrier to “Fresh, Local, Organic, Sustainable and Seasonal” produce for the events industry is your aspiration and vision, collaborate with your supply chain and dream big. Who knows? Along the way we might discover a little more joy, to use the words of JRR Tolkien in the Hobbit “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”