“Gastronomy is the intelligent knowledge of whatever concerns man’s nourishment”, brilliant words once written by the famous gastronome Brillat Savarin.
I get asked quite often what it is exactly that I studied at the university. When I say Gastronomic Sciences, I usually get some smirks or confused face expressions and the one and the same question “So you’re a cook?”
Mmm… no, it is a lot more complicated than that. Gastronomic SCIENCES, the word sciences actually implies the study of various fields of science, such as chemistry, botany, microbiology, nutrition. These are only a few of the subjects looked at through out the degree. Cooking is only a small part of it.
Gastronomy is a holistic subject that includes Exact sciences and Humanities, in order to really understand the value of it, it’s important to learn food history, food chemistry, food aesthetics, food culture, sensory science, production technologies.
A crucial part of it in my opinion is history and anthropology, we invent new diets, new products, additives, technologies every day, and we completely forget about autoctonous varieties, we forget about biodiversity, we are trying to invent things that would help feed the planet or would improve our nutrition when the truth is we are overcomplicating everything and maybe destroying the nutritious and sustainable agriculture and production, just by trying to save it with some “new” engineered plants, live stock and whatnot.
We have seen how cardiovascular disease has significantly increased and is now the number one killer on the planet. And you know what the biggest risk factor for it is? No, it’s not smoking, it’s diet and lifestyle.
We hear more and more information about undernutrition in the third world countries, but ALSO overnutrition in the richer parts of the world. We buy and we buy, and we consume whatever we feel like, some cake, sweets, infinite portions of meat (but just the nice juicy parts, the rest can go to trash). And soda drinks! Fantastic. And sure, the leftovers and the things from the fridge that we throw out because we buy too much and can’t finish it before it spoils.
The overconsumption is not only unsustainable for our health, the industry is taught to through out all the “ugly” foods because they should look nice and shiny at the supermarket. It’s shocking how much vegetables and fruit get thrown out because they are in a different shape, or they don’t meet the size standards. Think about all the hungry people on the planet that could be fed by this produce. And I don’t mind if each tomato or apple I buy come in different shapes, I AM MORE SUSPICIOUS about foods that all look and taste the same. That doesn’t sound too exciting to me at all.
Let’s add eco sustainability to the list of important aspects in Gastronomy. Monocultures, destroying entire rainforests for palm oil trees or cattle, huge plantations of canola which get treated with the worst possible chemical herbicides and pesticides, at least in the country from where I come from. No, it’s not culture, health, I don’t see anything positive about it.
I do believe that it is crucial to teach this to every single human being – to eat local, traditional, non industrially processed foods. This should not be a privilege of people who can afford to go to a certain university to learn about food culture. These are essential things to be taught to your children, to your parents and friends!
We are speaking about climate change so much lately, but we can actually do something about it in our own homes. By paying attention to what we buy and what we eat!
More LOCAL, 0KM, SEASONAL, less meat and buy only meat products from sources you know come from local farms. I’m sure there are food markets where you live! And mostly, eat plants! They are so tasty, and there is such a huge variety! Beans, lentils, turnips, cabbages, mushrooms, green leafy veggies!