We need a more humane, sustainable and responsible gastronomy

A couple of years ago, in March 2019, chefs and scientists from all over the world gathered at the World Congress on Science and Cuisine in Barcelona (photo) signed a manifesto. With it they intended to consolidate and set the course for a new discipline that has taken shape over the last few years: scientific gastronomy.

The document highlights, among other points, that cooking is an essential activity for human beings, which distinguishes them from other animals and is necessary for their well-being. Likewise, it claims that scientific gastronomy should be considered a new and independent discipline, with its own paradigms and synergies with other related sciences.

And it is that multiple and varied fields of knowledge converge in the food fact. Nutrition and dietetics ensure that each one of us has a healthy diet. Veterinary medicine and food sciences and technologies deal with primary production (agriculture, livestock, fishing), as well as the preparation and distribution of food on an industrial, domestic and restaurant scale; they also ensure food safety, in the sense that what we eat is healthily safe; and in the sense that the availability of food is sufficient and stable for the entire population —with the political and economic challenges that this entails—. Finally, gastronomy ensures that eating is an organoleptic and socially pleasant act.

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The value of education could not be missing from the manifesto. Training is essential in all areas; also in the culinary. Gastronomic environments must be places where education is global, collaborating with regulated education in a systematic way.

But it is the last point of this declaration of principles that defends the most innovative idea: that scientific gastronomy should advance according to the 17 sustainable development goals proposed by the United Nations, especially the global values ​​of sustainability, social responsibility and humanity. But how do these goals translate into the kitchen? Basically, by promoting an optimal work environment, caring for the environment of the production of raw materials and intermediate products, rejecting any relationship with inappropriate environmental and social environments, and establishing collaborations with social, cultural and academics that promote those values.

Regarding sustainability, a recent action is illustrative: the prestigious Michelin guide introduced in 2020 a new quality seal to identify sustainable restaurants, whose pictogram consists of a green five-leaf clover. Its objective is to identify and assess all restaurants that follow good environmental practices, as well as being a way to recognize and reward chefs who care about the impact their activity has on the planet.

Another aspect related to the previous point is the commitment to recovery. We refer to the maximum use of the products that the gastronomic space has been dismissing up to now. For this, it is necessary to generate a strategy that minimizes discarded products, giving them gastronomic and nutritional value. As a collateral aspect, it should bet on the recycling of containers and other elements considered unusable up to now. The restaurant of the future will be sustainable or it will not be [see «Sustainable restaurants», by Claudi Mans and Pere Castells; Research and Science, June 2020].

Dear readers, after more than fifteen years of travel and with the desire to have introduced you to the exciting world of gastronomic research, the «Science and gastronomy» section comes to an end. We say goodbye with a game, a kind of “Who’s who in the world of scientific gastronomy”: do you recognize the signatories of the manifesto that appear in the photograph?

La solución, aquí.

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