How to eat ethically while traveling

At home it can be easy to eat responsibly, but travel can often be ground zero for ignoring our environmental impact.

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Jher story is part of Unpacked, a series that explores some of the biggest questions about responsible travel, like is there a way to travel ethically? How to be more respectful while traveling? And should you use your phone while traveling? Be sure to subscribe to the podcast.

When I lived in Semarang, Indonesia as an English teacher about six years ago, I liked to take walks around my neighborhood – mini-trips through my community at lunch or after I finished teaching. for the day. Inevitably, I would stop at a wara small, usually family-run street restaurant, and order freshly fried fries perched, or vegetable fritters, satay dripping with sweet peanut sauce, or fried tempeh. After eating, I walked some more, almost always accompanied by the sight and smell of a huge pile of burning garbage just around the corner from my school. Filled with plastic waste from the West – perhaps from someone’s seamless food delivery or a truckload’s worth of wasted produce – I knew some of the packaging and materials used to prepare my meal would end up by sitting just above the stack. It’s not the fault of the busy Indonesian warung owners who are just trying to keep the trains on track; it is a system that our world has created: overconsumption and extreme waste, which often results in the most vulnerable communities being forced to bear the burden.

Food and nutrition The magazine refers to “ethical eating” as the economic, social and environmental impact of buying or consuming food and drink. For consumers, in simple terms, this means being aware of your decisions and making better ones. While living in Indonesia, I was more of an observer. I didn’t yet have enough perspective to consider how my food choices affected society. Young and relatively broke, I sought to grab the cheapest and most filling meal that could sustain me for a day of temple explorations and island-hopping.

Fortunately, this ideology – between me and others – is changing. Upon returning to the United States, my work on New York City’s public education policy gave me the opportunity to learn more about how we eat impacts the planet and the role what does travel play in today’s environmental challenges plaguing the world. There is an urgent reasoning: food waste, a global problem, accounts for a third of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and reports show that global meat consumption accounts for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse gases from food production. When we’re at home, it can be easy to think about recycling, composting, or eating less meat. But travel, an experience that is fundamentally rooted in new experiences, can often be ground zero for ignoring our environmental impact. We can become so eager to try something new that we forget about the bigger role we play.

That’s why I’m so excited to see the culinary experiences diversify in the cities I’ve traveled to in recent years. At the Mosquito Supper Club in New Orleans, James Beard Award-winning chef Melissa Martin regularly speaks to guests about the importance of using local seafood to support local businesses that use sustainable fishing practices. She doesn’t shy away from conversations about climate change; instead, she encourages them, often using the threat of climate change as a prompt to get guests talking at the communal table in the center of the restaurant.

At Peculiar Pig Farm in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, meat is essential, but fifth-generation owner and farmer Marvin Ross strives to avoid waste at all costs, urging people to buy pork complete – rather than a few parts of pork – for travelling. -Restaurants worthy of the name like the Gray in Savannah and the Husk in Charleston. And at New York’s Lekka Burger, the impressive plant-based menu attracts eco-conscious travelers, but the waste disposal program, which includes a recycling and composting station in the back of the house , is what keeps many coming back.

Ethical eating goes beyond supporting local restaurants, eating in institutions that use sustainable materials, and incorporating plant-based foods into a travel diet. It is also important to consider identity. Women, gay men, and black and other restaurant workers of color continue to face discrimination in the restaurant industry, often being ignored by establishment award bodies or viewed as secondary to male-owned restaurants. white and cisgender. When I think of where I’m going to dine, the restaurant I support comes to the fore in my head.

On my first visit to Brazil this year, I chose to savor Afro-Brazilian cuisine in restaurants owned and operated by Afro-Brazilian chefs and restaurateurs, ensuring that the money goes to oppressed people and overlooked in the country’s narrative of its eating habits. In Paris, I explored immigrant-owned restaurants sharing their kitchens, which led to a phenomenal seafood thali at Desi Road, African-inspired vegan cuisine at L’Embuscade, and an irresistible bowl of noodles. Chinese in the eighth arrondissement. These experiences allow me to fully understand the culture and history of a city or country and to support all the communities that make a place so remarkable.

It’s also something all travelers can do considering the food they eat and the places they engage with – it just takes some preliminary research. Research restaurants in advance, check their websites to see who runs the kitchen and what local organizations they have ties to, if any. Observe the work of local tour guides and travel enthusiasts, and support tours and travel experiences that, in turn, support cities by giving back to the community.

There is no easy answer on how to eat ethically. Sometimes it can seem like one line of ethics (avoiding meat) conflicts with another (supporting a black pig farmer’s waste disposal efforts). However, that’s the beauty of trying to eat ethically while traveling. It introduces us to people, restaurants and culinary experiences that we may never have dealt with before. And really, isn’t that inherent in the mission of the journey?

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About Patricia Kilgore

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