Before traveling to another country or just a city not too far away from home, either for business or for leisure, it is really important to plan ahead. Most people spend some time searching for the best hotels, fun activities, and booking flights, but forget that the gastronomical experience may be just as important to understand another culture.
It may seem easier to stop at a fast-food or chain restaurant to grab a quick bite. Many people choose to do just that because they already know the food. But trying new restaurants or even eating at the hotel where you’re staying may be a surprising addition to the trip and has a lot of benefits that range from eating healthier food to helping the environment. Below are a few reasons why you should buy and eat local food.
When you eat at local restaurants, you immerse yourself in part of the culture of that location because food belongs to a country’s heritage and is strongly rooted in the memories of the local people. That’s why local foods are different everywhere you travel. They grow depending on the climate and seasonal changes of that place, and there is always something new waiting to be discovered.
So if you’re a food lover or just want to try new things, this may be an amazing experience. And this is not about going to a foreign country and eatings different meats or herbs. Sometimes, a city not too far away from you might have different spices, new ways to prepare food, new fruits, or typical dishes that may surprise you.
Normally, local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better. Contrary to chain restaurants or fast-food establishments, small restaurants or hotels often use local food to prepare their meal. This is important because food which spends less time in transit from farm to plate loses fewer nutrients and suffers less spoilage.
Fresher food tastes better because taste is directly related to how the food was grown or produced. When your food doesn’t have to travel too far to get to the restaurant, it is allowed to ripen naturally and is picked and eaten at the peak of freshness, while fruits and vegetables grown in big agricultural systems are artificially ripened with ethylene gas. This interferes not only with the taste, but also with the nutrients the food is able to retain and could even have negative effects on one’s health.
The fewer steps between your food’s source and your plate, the less chance there is of eating contaminated food. So, when you eat locally, not only are you eating healthier, but the food is usually tastier too.
When you eat at restaurants cooking with local food, you’re also helping the environment. Local food travels a shorter distance from the farm to the restaurant, so less fuel is used and fewer greenhouse gases are produced in the process. By reducing food miles, you’re reducing CO2 emissions. And because of the shorter distribution, less food is wasted in warehousing and merchandising.
Local food also encourages diversification of local agriculture, which helps reduce having to rely on monoculture. Instead of single crops grown over a wide area–which damages the soil–you’re investing in farms that cultivate different kinds of food. Also, helping local farms survive keeps land from being redeveloped into suburban areas.
So, if your hotel has a restaurant, make sure that the food you prepare there comes from local farms and small groceries and ensure that your guests know this. Let them know that you care about the food you’re serving and that your hotel has an eco-friendly agenda. And if your hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, you can always partner with local restaurants, especially the ones that serve typical regional dishes. This decision will make your hotel stand out amongst the competition and even generate additional revenue.
Being conscious about where the food you’re buying comes from is important because not only will you make sure that you’re serving healthier food to your guests and helping the environment, but you’re also boosting the local economy and adding value to your hotel. By buying food from local farms, you’re making sure that your money stays within the local economy, which can help create more jobs. You’re investing in your own rural and urban communities. You’re also encouraging the diversification of local agriculture, which is good for the soil. Smaller, organic farmers may grow a variety of organic and heirloom produce, which will make the dishes you serve even more unique and special.