Eco-tourism and Food: How Sustainable Travel Can Promote Local Cuisine

Eco-tourism and Food: How Sustainable Travel Can Promote Local Cuisine

What is Eco-tourism and Food?

Eco-tourism and Food are two concepts that reinforce each other in the dynamic of sustainable travel. Eco-tourism is a form of tourism that encourages preserving natural resources and respecting local cultures by relying on environmentally friendly methods of transportation, accommodation, and consumption. Additionally, a large part of eco-tourism is dedicating time to learning about local ecosystems and the diverse wildlife that inhabits them.

The Connection Between Eco-tourism and Food

The connection between eco-tourism and food is clear and profound. On one hand, eco-tourists are primarily interested in preserving and protecting local ecosystems, so avoiding products that create environmentally destructive resource footprints is essential. On the other hand, many eco-tourists also enjoy experiencing local cultures and sampling the cuisine particular to their destination. Coupling eco-tourism and food allows travelers to enjoy the best of both worlds: satisfying their wanderlust while also preserving local environments.

Why Sustainable Travel Matters when it comes to Food

When it comes to food, sustainable travel is of the utmost importance. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO,) approximately one-third of the food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted. The environmental and economic cost of food waste is devastating, as lost and wasted food accounts for as much as 10 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Furthermore, the food transportation industry is incredibly resource intensive and carbon-emitting. Estimates suggest that 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the food supply chain, which includes food production, shipping, and the production & shipping of agricultural inputs.

Ways Eco-tourists Can Support Local Cuisine

The best way for eco-tourists to impact local food systems positively is to avoid buying packaged, processed, and imported foods. Buying local and seasonal products is the best way to avoid contributing to food waste, as these products will not have to travel far to reach you. Additionally, supporting restaurants and eateries that source local produce and feature traditional fare is another way to help support the local food industry.

Unsustainable Food Practices to Avoid

The following are some of the most significant unsustainable food practices eco-tourists should avoid:

  • Eating processed foods: foods such as mass-produced snacks, dried mixes, processed meats should be avoided as these tend to generate a large carbon footprint.
  • Supporting single-use packaging: avoid buying drinks that come in plastic bottles or items packaged in non-recyclable materials.
  • Not considering local restaurants: opting for multinational chain restaurants over local eateries is a common unsustainable food practice.
  • Buying imported foods: while not always possible, it’s important to try and source local, seasonal foods as much as possible to reduce food waste and emissions.


Eco-tourists who want to promote local cuisine and contribute to sustainable travel can make a powerful impact by being mindful of the food they buy and consume. By avoiding processed foods, packaged snacks, and imported products in favour of locally produced, seasonal fare, eco-tourists can significantly reduce the carbon emissions associated with tourism, while still enjoying the culture and cuisine around them.

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