How To Eat Better On Your Travels

Did you know that what you eat on your next trip can help reduce global emissions? In this article and social series you’ll be inspired to eat local and fresh on your next trip. In this article you'll learn why it is great for your health, and how it can also help reduce your travel emissions.  

The next time you’re pondering where to eat as you explore a new destination, you can keep these two simple principles in mind:

  • Try to eat close to the source. When we eat food that is grown locally we cut down on transportation emissions and support local producers. Recent research from the University of Sydney indicates that food transport constitutes 19 percent of food emissions, equivalent to 6 percent of emissions from all sources. 
  • Try to eat organic. You’ve probably heard that regenerative farming can reduce carbon emissions while helping store carbon dioxide. Regenerative farming and the sustainable food systems it supports also protects wild biodiversity such as wild bird and insect species, along with domestic species of animals and plant varieties, whose existence is the result of thousands of years of selection by peasant and pastoral communities, soil biodiversity, and the diversity of traditional processed products (such as cheeses, breads, cured meats).

Food plays a pivotal role in some of our greatest challenges,” observes  Jim Kane, host of  a new show on PBS called The Food Principle. Few people in the travel industry have devoted more energy and time to promoting the benefits of slow food for the environment and people than Jim Kane, who is also the founder of Culture Xplorers, and “adventure lab that creates one-of-a-kind experiences using food, the arts, and nature to connect more deeply to a place, its people, and its living traditions.”  

In the series, Jim talks with local growers, chefs and community members to learn about the many ways that food systems support not only eating, but also conservation and community goals.

The Principles in Practice in Two Popular Tourism Destinations: The Galapagos and Cartagena, Colombia

The Galapagos is a dream destination for many travelers for its wellspring of biodiversity, but it faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to eating, namely producing enough food to feed its local population and its many visitors while protecting the earth, guarding against invasive species, and depending on imported food from the mainland. Food imports from mainland Ecuador constitute 75% of the islands’ food supply, generating emissions and introducing pests that ride along in shipped food. 

Eating local supports farmers for whom selling their organically grown food at food fairs can provide transformative income. Because the Galapagos is a protected area, local farmers are prohibited from using many modern agricultural methods and find the growing benefits of something as simple as a greenhouse transformative. One farmer observed that before her greenhouse she couldn’t easily grow such vegetables as cilantro, white onions, lettuce, peppers, basil, watermelon, chard and cucumber. She received support to build a greenhouse that has since doubled her monthly income. Visiting the Galapagos with Tomorrow’s Air partner  The Travel Yogi, offers the chance to stay overnight at an organic farm and dine on food grown right there. A local chef and team prepares all the meals, and even the coffee served is from the property's small organic coffee plantation. 

Likewise in a place like Cartagena, Colombia, place known for its incredible biodiversity, folklore, and vibrant food culture. Cartagena, on the country’s Caribbean coast, is an excellent laboratory for experiencing and learning first hand about the climate benefits of eating locally grown food. 

A magnet for visitors drawn to sandy beaches, colonial architecture and nightlife, Cartagena is also facing climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, increased frequency of gale-force winds and extreme heat events and heavy rains which cause flooding. Not surprisingly, it is the first coastal city in Colombia to create a plan for achieving “climate compatible development” by 2040.  A key part of the plan includes a beautiful proposal for capturing excess water during floods and using that water to irrigate the community food garden and to create a rain garden.

The food garden is designed for growing plants that are widely used in the Caribbean such as; red peppers, tomatoes, green beans, cilantro (parsley), spring onion, melon, butternut-squash and lettuce. The rain garden calls for growing tall, seasonal fruit trees and bushes to aid in climate regulation such as mango trees, mamón, chirimoya, guayacán de bola, olive, lemon and mangle zaragoza trees. 

Visitors to Cartagena with The Travel Yogi and enjoy home-cooked, plant-based food at a charming finca in the mountains (with spectacular views of the Andes). Pulling from their organic farm, owners Katia and Jorge walk visitors through the modern, plant heavy twist on Colombian dishes, to delicious effect.  

Slow food: it tastes great, enhances your travel experience, and its production helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 

To keep earth’s climate stable, rapid reductions in global emissions are necessary alongside significant growth in carbon removal in the coming years. Join our newsletter to keep learning and consider investing in carbon removal today.

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