Sustainable Food Practices: VET LOVES FOOD Project and Beyond Webinar

We wanted to start the year with an eye on sustainability. That is why today, 18th of January 2024, we have hold the Sustainable Food Practices: VET LOVES FOOD Project and Beyond webinar.

Lucrezia Palladini, as coordinating manager of the Project (CECE) opened the floor by introducing the main features of the VET LOVES FOOD Project to the attendees.

Then, the floor has been given to Javier Cuartero, representative of EIT Food, who have presented their latest and most relevant works regarding food sustainability and food waste prevention, at a regional and international scope.

After that, Igor Ozamiz, from Escuela Superior de Hostelería de Bilbao – ESHBI, as partner of the VET LOVES FOOD Project, and coordinating organization of the Result 2, has presented the Project’s Hands-on Manual against food waste. This is a very useful resource to avoid food waste in the HORECA sector, which acknowledge the food waste problem and implements practical solutions to provide more sustainable and conscious cooking techniques within the sector.

Within the framework of the Result 2 of the Project, Sara Herrero, member of European Department of CECE, have presented the main highlights of the RETHINK FOOD Virtual Challenge, an online contest held in the VET LOVES FOOD webpage between May and June of 2023 aimed at collecting sustainable recipes with zero-waste and the lowest carbon footprint possible. Check the recipes of the challenge by entering in the “Sustainble Recipes section” of the VET LOVES FOOD Hub.

One of the most remarkable moments of the webinar has been the intervention of Simone Carone, teacher at Zefiro – Società Coperativa Sociale, in behalf of the Quoquomodo Group, the winners of the RETHINK FOOD Virtual Challenge. Simone have explained the origin of the recipe that won the challenge, Spelt ravioli filled with liquid pecorino cheese served with sweet and sour cherries and broad bean sauce. Simone’s intervention has been an inspiration to all of us on how sustainable, zero-waste practices can be at the vanguard of a more conscious and inspirational cuisine nowadays.

The webinar has been closed with the final intervention of Lucrezia Palladini, this time by presenting an overview of the VET LOVES FOOD hub and the e-learning course From Waste to Taste.

We want to thank all the attendees their participation in the webinar.  For those who could not attend the webinar, or for those who want to re-watch the webinar, the recording of the event will be available soon on our website.

Stay tuned to our social media! We will share the news on the webinar there!

We remind all the attendees that our Hands-on Manual is available in the four languages of the Project (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and English) in the VET LOVES FOOD website.

Don’t forget to join our community and be part of the Change!

VET LOVES FOOD PROJECT’S 3RD TRANSNATIONAL MEETING

The beginning of the year 2024 is a great moment to recap the main highlights of the VET LOVES FOOD Project during the year 2023. One of those highlights was the Third Transnational Meeting of the Project, which was held the days 4th and 5th of July, in the impressive city of Florence.

The two-days meeting, hosted by the italian partner of the Project, Learningdigital, gathered the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Belgium partners of the Project in the historical venue of the Murate Idea Park, a former prison converted into a business incubator.

During the meeting, the VET LOVES TEAM discussed the following key points:

  • The exciting news on the extension of the Project until May 2024.
  • The explanation of the winning recipes of the RETHINK FOOD Virtual Challenge, being the 1st place for the Spelt ravioli filled with liquid pecorino cheese served with sweet and sour cherries and broad bean sauce of Quoquo Modo group (Zefiro Società Cooperativa Sociale).
  • The final remarks for the drafting of the VET LOVES FOOD Hands-on Manual on Food Waste prevention, which is now available in our website in English, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • The next steps to be taken regarding the Result 3 of the Project, which now are observable in the new functionalities of the VET LOVES FOOD hub and the development of the e-learning course “From Waste to Taste”, soon to be available in the VET LOVES FOOD website.
  • The organization  of the VET LOVES FOOD Joint Training Event. Both the e-learning course and hub were tested in Conegliano (Italy) by a selected group of VET students and trainers of the HORECA sector during the VET LOVES FOOD Joint Training Event (read more about it here).

The meeting in Florence was, as well, a great opportunity to learn more about the history, culture, and gastronomy of the Tuscany region… and to do some tourism in an outstandingly beautiful city.

The Transnational meeting of Italy was the penultimate one of the VET LOVES FOOD Project. The Project is coming to an end. The next meeting, which will held in Belgium in the Spring of 2024, and that will be hosted by EVTA, will be the last one.

We hope to see you all there in the Final Conference!

Don’t forget to follow us in our social media and be part of the change!

JOINT TRAINING EVENT IN ENAIP VENETO’S CENTRE IN CONEGLIANO, ITALY

The VET LOVES FOOD partner, ENAIP Veneto, had the opportunity to host participants from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium for a Joint Training Event that took place from the 6th until the 10th of November in Conegliano, Italy, to test the modules of our e-learning course, From Waste to Taste, on the VET LOVES FOOD online HUB.

The goal of this Joint Training Event was to pilot the five multimedia learning modules developed by the VET LOVES FOOD project partnership to offer the participants contents, knowledge and skills on important aspects on sustainability and food waste prevention in the HORECA sector such as: 

  1. Energy saving in a kitchen environment
  2. Correct waste management
  3. Food culture & ethics
  4. How to manage a sustainable restaurant
  5. How to draft and adopt a sustainable diet

Each module includes agile video presentations of the topic, hands-on activities to put the concepts into practice, final tests, and additional reading materials for deeper insights on the proposed subjects. Over the three days of activities, the 13 participants sent by the VET LOVES FOOD partnership’s organisations were accompanied by the ENAIP Veneto’s staff in identifying the strongest and weakest aspects of the e-learning in a fine-tuning perspective. A full set of assessment questionnaires helped to draw a benchmark and assess the improvement in the knowledge and competences of the group over the training. The Joint Staff Training was also enriched by out-of-classroom activities.

A green cooking lab was held by ENAIP Veneto’s trainers Sara Raveane and Massimiliano Bon, who already have a long experience in educating their learners to sustainability in the kitchen. The participants got the chance to try their hand at preparing Italian traditional zero-waste and scrap recycling recipes in the ENAIP Conegliano’s kitchen labs. The recipes also served as basis for testing and acquiring practical skills from the course on how to store ingredients correctly and calculating the environmental impact of a recipe.

The participants also had the chance to have a guided tour of an interesting local agro-food business: a winery producing organic wine, the only one in the Prosecco district.

The Joint Staff Training Event was concluded by visiting the historical city centre of Treviso, an elegant city, rich in history and charm, with Venetian touches.

The outcomes of the Joint Training Event have been very positive. The training contents have been assessed in depth and they will be the object of an accurate fine-tuning and revising process, in order to grant to the future participants of the e-learning course materials, which are as agile, complete, and accurate as possible. All the attendees confirmed their knowledge about sustainability in the HORECA environment was improved by the training, and, also, by the opportunity to discuss together and share ideas, since they all had the possibility to offer different perspectives emerging from their different backgrounds, roles, ages, and experiences.

It is also worth mentioning that one of the most relevant characteristics highlighted by the participants was the human aspect, which is, in reality, as much important in this kind of activities as the technical ones. As one of the participants said:

I come away richer, because it was an amazing week to meet new people, make friends, have excellent gastronomic experiences and share knowledge in an activity of the VET LOVES FOOD project.

COMPOSTING: GREEN, EASY, AND GOOD FOR THE PLANET

Composting is an action with a significant impact, both by helping reduce food waste and contributing to enriching the soil, thus promoting a healthier planet.

As we know, food waste is a pressing issue in our society, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that approximately one-third of all food produced globally is wasted each year. This food waste ends up in landfills, decomposing and producing methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. To avoid this, we can resort to composting which transforms food scraps into nutrient-rich organic matter, which can be used to fertilize gardens and crops.

Compost, often referred to as “black gold,” is a valuable resource for gardeners and farmers since it improves soil structure, increases water retention, and enhances nutrient content. We are talking about a natural fertilizer that contains essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients promote plant growth and enhance the health of the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers, and consequently, healthy soil leads to higher crop yields and healthier plants.

Composting is quite easy to compost at home and it doesn’t require a lot of space or resources. Here is a basic guide to get you started:

  • Choose a composting method: there are several methods of composting, including traditional compost piles, compost bins, and vermiculture (worm composting). Select the one that suits your space and needs;
  • Collect compostable materials: gather food scraps like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and yard waste like leaves and grass clippings. Avoid adding meat, dairy, and oily foods, as they can attract pests;
  • Layer your compost pile: alternate layers of green materials (food scraps and yard waste) with brown materials (dry leaves, straw, and newspaper). This balance ensures proper decomposition;
  • Turn the compost: regularly mix the contents to aerate the pile and speed up decomposition;
  • Maintain moisture and temperature: keep your compost pile moist but not too wet, and ensure it stays within the ideal temperature range (around 140°F or 60°C);
  • Harvest your compost: in a few months to a year, your compost will be ready to use in your garden or on your plants.

In conclusion, composting is a sustainable and environmentally friendly practice that individuals can easily incorporate into their daily lives. By reducing food waste and enriching the soil, composting not only benefits the environment but also brings benefits to your personal green space. It is a win-win solution that contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future for our planet. So, don’t wait any longer—start composting today and make a positive impact on the world around you.

Learn more about this process: https://lisbon.oikos-international.org/arcticles/how-to-compost-at-home/ 

PERMACULTURE: A TRASFORMATIVE APPROACH

Permaculture has emerged as a transformative approach to sustainable agriculture, aiming to harmonize human activity with the natural world. At its core, permaculture is about creating food systems that mimic the resilience and diversity of natural ecosystems, while optimizing resource use and minimizing waste.

One of the fundamental principles of permaculture is observation: practitioners closely study natural ecosystems to understand the relationships and interactions between different elements, such as plants, animals, soil, water, and climate.

Diversity is another key aspect of permaculture. By incorporating a wide variety of plants, animals, and microorganisms, permaculture gardens and farms can create symbiotic relationships that support and reinforce each other.

Permaculture also emphasizes the importance of self-sufficiency and closed-loop systems.

Rather than relying heavily on external inputs, permaculturists seek to recycle and regenerate resources within the system.

Permaculture is not only about the physical design of food systems but also encompasses social and ethical considerations. It emphasizes the importance of sharing knowledge and fostering a sense of community resilience.

In conclusion, by embracing permaculture, we can move towards a future where humanity coexists in harmony with the natural world, nurturing the Earth and securing a sustainable food supply for generations to come.

URBAN FARMING: A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH

As urban populations continue to grow, the concept of urban farming is gaining momentum as a promising solution to various challenges, including food security, environmental sustainability, and community well-being. Urban farming involves cultivating and producing food within cities, transforming underutilized spaces into productive agricultural zones.

One of the primary advantages of urban farming is improved food security. By bringing food production closer to consumers, urban farming reduces the reliance on long-distance transportation and mitigates the risks associated with disruptions in the global food supply chain.

Environmental sustainability is another critical aspect of urban farming. By converting vacant lots, rooftops, or vertical spaces into urban gardens, this practice contributes to greening the urban landscape and mitigating the heat island effect.

Urban farming also fosters community engagement and social cohesion. It provides opportunities for individuals to reconnect with nature, learn about food production, and engage in meaningful activities that promote physical and mental well-being

Moreover, urban farming has economic benefits. It can create job opportunities, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas, and support local economies.

However, urban farming does face challenges. Limited space, access to land, and potential issues related to soil quality and contamination require innovative solutions.

In conclusion, urban farming represents a transformative approach to sustainable food production in cities.

FOOD WASTE REDUCTION

Food waste reduction has become an increasingly critical issue as we strive for a more sustainable and efficient food system. Shockingly, around one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year, leading to significant environmental, social, and economic repercussions. To address this challenge, various strategies are being explored to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain.

Innovative technologies play a pivotal role in minimizing food waste: smart sensors and data analytics provide real-time monitoring of food quality, storage conditions, and expiration dates, enabling timely interventions and optimized inventory management, reducing the likelihood of spoilage and waste.

Additionally, advanced tracking systems facilitate better traceability, ensuring that food products reach their destinations efficiently and are utilized before expiration.

To effectively reduce food waste, collaboration and coordination across the entire supply chain are essential. Cooperation between producers, retailers, and consumers can lead to improved communication and planning, reducing overproduction and excess inventory. Donations of surplus food to food banks and charitable organizations can help address food insecurity while minimizing waste.ç

Food waste reduction requires a comprehensive approach that incorporates innovative technologies, awareness campaigns, and sustainable packaging solutions. By implementing these strategies, we can minimize waste, conserve resources, and mitigate the environmental impact associated with food production and disposal. With collective effort and a commitment to change, we can create a more sustainable food system that ensures food security, reduces environmental harm, and promotes a more equitable society.

FOOD SYSTEMS & HEALTH

We all require food for general well-being. Diets originating from inefficient food systems are now a key risk factor in the worldwide illness burden.

The global food system is already putting pressure on ecosystems that are critical to our food supply and diet.

Food production is the largest generator of greenhouse gases in our environment, as well as the largest user of water resources.

However, by 2050, the global population is predicted to reach a record, raising food consumption, and putting unprecedented strains on the environment, natural resources, and ecosystems.

This debate is about promoting individual and public health, protecting the environment, ensuring economic well-being, minimizing animal suffering, providing equitable access to farmland, respecting individual freedoms and cultural traditions, fostering collective control over food and agricultural policy, and engaging an active citizenry in food social movements.

This highlights the importance of paying close attention to the ethics of the existing of the global food system and recommendations to reform it.

Several nutrient-rich foods are either too expensive or inaccessible in food shortages. While both consumers and physicians have time constraints, some researchers believes physicians may play a significant role in promoting healthy meals, by suggesting that these professionals should become advocates for making nutritious foods more accessible and affordable.

The stakes are too high to disregard the global food system’s impact on the environment. Governments, the United Nations, NGOs, civil society organizations, the food and beverage industry, and health professionals all play a part and are accountable for ensuring that our global population’s nutrition and health needs are satisfied through food systems.

Ultimately, it is important to emphasize the ethical challenges of food systems in population health and how health care and health practitioners can play crucial roles.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET AS A RESOURCE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Recently, worldwide scientific organisations and institutions of several European governments have rekindled their interest in sustainable diets that have no negative environmental impact and support current and future generations access to food, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle are considered sustainable.

Sustainable meals are safe, nutritious, and healthful while maximizing natural and human resources. They are also respectful of and protective of biodiversity and ecosystems, accessible to all people, economically equitable, and affordable.

Recent studies offer recommendations for what steps should be taken to enhance sustainable food systems. All environmental evaluations concur that more plant-based diet promotion is necessary.

The Mediterranean Diet is a good example of a sustainable eating plan. In addition to the strongest scientific support for its health, it also has favourable

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effects on the economy and society.

Numerous studies have found that the Mediterranean diet model has a reduced environmental impact and can be linked to significant health and nutritional benefits.

What is a mediterranean diet, then?

This diet is high in extra virgin olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, and seafood. It is low in red wine, poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and dairy products.

In this line, certain goods like red meat, beverages with added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, other highly processed foods, beers, and alcoholic beverages should be avoided.

Additionally, it is regarded as a sustainable eating paradigm that values the environment and supports biodiversity and regional cultural traditions.

To top up, by doing this, traditional knowledge of cuisine and culture is preserved.

MORAL & ETHICS AS MARKETING: SHOULD PROFESSIONALS USE ETHICAL AND GREEN PRODUCTS AS A MARKETING STRATEGY?

It is no secret that the food sector is one of the most damaging to planet Earth due to the use of resources in a non-sustainable way,

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for the most part. However, societies’ view of this phenomenon is changing, as a result of the change in fundamental values.

These values are based on a more humane care for the animals, opposition to waste (be it food, energy or even water), sustainability, care for healthy diets and concern for the ecological footprint (and environment).

Consequently, and according to some studies done on the subject, it is believed that information on ethically relevant factors for food production can affect consumers’ expectations and their experience with food.

According to a UK study, there is a trend towards increased consumption of products that are positively labelled, meaning that products described as ethical are more likely to receive attention from consumers, sintomasdelsida.org while products that are negatively labelled (in terms of lack of concern for the environment and production) are less likely to receive the same attention.

Because consumer choice has been identified as a determinant component in food systems and environmental sustainability, some authors propose that the halo effect of ethical information can be used to drive market change toward more ecologically sustainable agricultural practices. So, companies and restaurants can utilize this knowledge to their advantage and convey their ethical products as a marketing tactic.

As a result, there is a probability that they may improve their sales and build a name for themselves in this industry, serving as an example and good practice.