Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Enjoy Great Food While Greening Your Travels

Italy-Homemade Pizza - After
purchasing ingredients at Campo
de’ Fiori market in Rome, we made our own pizza.
Photo by: Greenloons
Savoring local flavors helps communities, families and the environment.

Eco-tourism travel is about preserving ecosystems, educating visitors about conservation, empowering localities, operating sustainable tourist attractions – and, most of all, having fun and unique family experiences!  Of course, eating is a big part of traveling and aside from the fact that families can truly immerse themselves in the travel experience when sampling local foods and delicacies, the practice of eating locally teaches the value of food to both young and wise, and helps the environment.

The environmental benefits of eating locally include: less need for preservatives, better health since smaller farms are less likely to use pesticides and more likely to grow a variety of foods, and helping local economies since farmers receive the full retail value of the item rather applying it toward the expenses of transportation, processing, packaging, and refrigeration.

To find sustainable food restaurants in the United States and Canada, two great resources are Eat Well Guide and Local Harvest, which provides a comprehensive U.S. directory of farmers markets, farm stands and other sources of locally grown food.

London-Gastropub - Farm-fresh appetizer
 at London’s only certified organic restaurant,
the family-friendly Duke of Cambridge.
Photo by: Greenloons
When traveling overseas, a great resource to use is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which lists organic farms as well as organic farm volunteering opportunities around the world.  While ‘farmers markets’ may be a relatively new concept for Americans, almost every foreign city large or small has established local markets that sell fresh meats, fish, cheeses, breads, pastries, vegetables and fruits.  Traversing through one of these markets with children will not only reveal the different colors, shapes, textures and smells of local food, but will serve as a quick language, math and social studies lesson too.

Alternatively, if you are overseas and a family member suffers from allergies, Select Wisely portable translation cards, which can also be downloaded to a smartphone, cover all manner of food allergies and medical conditions including cards for nut and shellfish allergies, restaurant chefs, gluten-free diets, as well as smoke-free and low-salt requests.

Zurek Soup-Poland - The Polish specialty
of Zurek Soup, served in Krakow,
 is not only nutritious and filling,
 but “delicious” according to
my 7 year-old.
Photo by: Greenloons
Next time you are traveling to a new country, try to find a sustainable food restaurant or organic farm market or festival, and start savoring the local flavors.

About the author:
Irene Lane is the founder and president of Greenloons, which connects families to meaningful and unique nature-based travel experiences all over the world.

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