Hello friends! And now for the guest blog post I promised! My dear friend Nisha (yes, same name) from high school is a very intelligent woman and a student of food policy – specifically interested in food tourism. What is that you ask? Well, I had the same question, which is why I thought that she should tell you! Currently, Nisha is on a Food Sovereignty Tour in Italy! (which she will explain as well). I am posting this WAY later than I wanted to, so she is almost done with her trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still donate to her cause (and possibly win some cheese and chocolate!!!)! This isn’t just a tourist trip to Italy – it’s real, good, meaningful work. So please read – yes this is much more analytical that what I usually post, which is why I thought it was important to share. Food isn’t just about cool recipes, etc. I think it’s important to understand it from a geographical, economical, and political perspective as well – after all, food is a huge part of everything we do! Enjoy 🙂
Why? Because these delicious cheeses are specialties of the Piedmont region in Italy – birthplace of the Slow Food movement.
And why do I mention this in the first place? Because as a student of Food Policy, I am continuing my education by participating in a food sovereignty tour of just that region. Even after receiving a scholarship, the cost of the trip is still quite high and I am attempting to raise funds from anyone who will give because it is very important to me. Before I explain al this, please know that there are 3 ways you can contribute:
This is a great opportunity for me on many levels – it is not just a ‘holiday’. I studied Food Policy in London for a year and wrote my thesis on exactly what this trip is about – the people, places and policies that feed us. Importantly, the overall cost of the tour goes toward a fair wage for the small producers, family farmers, entrepreneurs and advocates who help to make this adventure possible.
Best of all, you’ll be able to follow me through my blog: http://travelblogee.blogspot.co.uk/ (yes, I know it needs to be updated). Finally, everyone who contributes will be automatically entered in a raffle for a cheese & chocolate package direct from the Piedmont region!
Food Sovereignty Tours is a project of Food First, an organisation that analyzes the root causes of global hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation and develops solutions in partnership with movements working for social change. By becoming a Food First member you will get all the perks of membership but half of your member dues will go toward funding my trip. It’s a win-win! Again, please let me know if this is something that interests you and I will be happy to pass along the information.
If you are still interested, below is a bit more of my thoughts on the nexus of food, agriculture, tourism, sovereignty and policy…
As a student of Food Policy at City University London, food sovereignty is one of the many issues I have come across in my readings and discussions. It is an important alternative food movement that is quickly gaining ground not only in developing countries, but also in more industrialized nations such as Italy and Spain.
My interest lies more on the food & agritourism side of the Food Sovereignty Tours; indeed, my MSc Food Policy dissertation (thesis) is an exploration of the contribution of food & agriculture tourism to modern food policy in the United Kingdom. Several months of research has sparked in me a keen interest in tourism, especially related to agriculture, food, gastronomy, etc., and tangentially, sustainable, responsible and eco-tourism. Beyond this, I am intrigued by the policies that address, as well as fail to take into account tourism and agriculture/food as sectors that contribute substantially (in a positive way) to a region’s economic health.
In the past, tourism has acquired a negative reputation as a sort of last-ditch or singular effort to boost local economies by creating jobs and infrastructure in a way that leaves little room for innovation or opportunities outside of the tourism sector. Worse, tourism is seen as having a terrible effect on local communities’ cultures and traditions, as well as being destructive to the environment. Since the 1990s, however, tourism’s profile has begun to improve as concerned individuals and organizations on both the supply and demand sides have started to address all of the issues associated with tourism, including social, economic and environmental. There is now a serious and dynamic dialogue around sustainable and responsible tourism in every corner of the globe. Critically, agriculture and food are being recognized as having serious potential in reaching many of the goals associated with sustainable development and tourism, particularly in rural regions.
Through my thesis research, I have found that in many industrialized nations, local communities and regions, especially in rural areas, are suffering from a loss of economic viability in agriculture, which is generally the sector rural people rely most heavily on for their livelihoods. This situation is a result of many factors, but rural producers’ responses to these changing times is what interests me most. Importantly, many have decided to diversify their agricultural holdings to include services, activities and products like bed & breakfasts, farm tours, farm stays and value-added products. Furthermore, many agencies at local, regional, and national levels, especially in Europe, are encouraging rural producers to take advantage of legal measures, such as geographical indications to protect and market unique products to the local community as well as to visitors. In developed countries and developing countries alike, tourism development is one way to address rural development. At the same time, an important facet to consider is sustainability, in all its interpretations and forms. As mentioned earlier, due to its less than favorable image, the tourism sector has made a concerted effort to make sustainability more than just a marketing gimmick. As such, the integration of tourism with food & agriculture can serve to protect and enhance local and regional culture, heritage, traditions, landscapes, even languages and also support sustainable agriculture, such as organic methods on small family farms.
To be sure, locally sourced, produced and marketed food is generally seen as far more sustainable than food products procured from the globalized food chain. Instead of producing agricultural products for export, local producers can focus more on importing visitors to enjoy their locality’s culinary specialties, like wine and cheese. The benefits of this kind of tourism are many: preservation of local culture, environment and economic vitality. It is important to note that successful food and agriculture tourism and, consequently, rural development depends on a conscious and well-defined planning process that is integrated and inclusive. Key stakeholders, vertically and horizontally, must be included in participatory planning for integrated rural tourism. Another essential component of sustainable and responsible tourism is taking stock of existing assets which can be built upon in a complementary fashion. In this way, food sovereignty can emerge as an important concept and movement that is rooted in the community, while also being supported through institutional policies, mechanisms and structures.
In future, I hope to work in the sustainable tourism sector with the intention of contributing my unique perspective from the angle of food and food policy. In the post-graduate aftermath, I am open to a variety of opportunities that can serve as stepping stones to a fulfilling career in both the food and travel sectors. I see the chance to participate in this food sovereignty tour as one of those stones and I appreciate any level of contribution. Thanks!