Responsibility on your plate

Enjoying culinary pleasures is one of the great attractions of travelling, but with it comes great responsibility, since the way in which food is produced can have a negative impact on the ecology and biodiversity of the places we visit. To ensure that our culinary choices don’t harm local natural resources or compromise the capacity of future generations to continue savouring top-quality ingredients, we should start asking ourselves the following question more often: Is it sustainable? Here are five simple tips that will help you answer it.

1. Local and seasonal ingredients

September is the best time of year to cultivate strawberries in the Maresme region. In the summer you won’t find high-quality artichokes in the Baix Llobregat region. In the winter don’t ask for peaches from Ordal, and don’t expect to find chestnuts from Montseny in May. If you come across these foods out of season, you can be pretty sure that they come from far-off lands, and because they’ve been transported by lorry, boat or plane, their carbon footprint is much bigger than that generated by locally produced food.

2. Shop locally

Another way to commit to sustainable gastronomy is to shop in small village shops, farmers’ markets or directly at farms. If you choose local shops over hypermarkets, you’ll be supporting the community and helping to improve the distribution of wealth. 

3. Unique products

Is shopping at the supermarket a habit that’s too hard to break? Well, at least try to put some local products in your trolley! Ask the supermarket assistants for advice and try to find wines and cavas with a local D.O. seal, which in the regions of  Barcelona are Alella, Penedès, Pla de Bages and Cava. Also seek out food products with the Protected Designation of Origin seal (DPO, according to its Catalan and Spanish initials) or the Protected Geographical Indication seal (IGP, according to its Catalan and Spanish initials). The ganxet bean, chicken and capon from El Prat de Llobregat, veal from the Pirineus Catalans, llonganissa (dry-cured sausage) from Vic, rooster from the Penedès region… Purchasing products with quality seals benefits the local community economically and socially. What’s more, you get to enjoy flavours and characteristics that you won’t find anywhere else.   

4. A wealth of flavours 

Given that a large amount of natural resources are necessary to raise livestock, moderating our meat consumption reduces its carbon footprint enormously. Meanwhile, overfishing is a serious environmental problem; many species have become endangered. Accordingly, it’s worth expanding your taste horizons by learning how to make more dishes using vegetables and pulses. If you need some inspiration, head to one of the culinary fairs regularly scheduled in the regions of Barcelona; they’re an excellent way to discover the recipes and foods that are highly prized in each region.

5. Get the right portions

Strategies to avoid food waste are crucial when it comes to sustainable gastronomy. So be careful with your portions and, in restaurants, don’t ask for more dishes than you can eat. If, despite your best efforts, you end up with leftovers, have no qualms about taking them home in a lunchbox, whether you’re in a local bar or a Michelin-starred restaurant!

More information:

Tourist Board of Maresme
Tourist Board of Baix Llobregat
Tourist Board of Berguedà
Tourist Board of Vallès Oriental
Tourist Board of Bages