Gastronomy is a direct expression of the traditions and culture of a community, but can it also influence the choices to make our way of eating more environmentally friendly? The first edition of the Sustainable Gastronomy Summit debated to give possible answers. The one-day panel of experts was held at One Monte-Carlo congress centre on the 22nd September 2023 under the High Patronage of the Sovereign Prince by the will of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in partnership with Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM), Ducasse Paris and Moët Hennessy. Five main themes had been developed to build up the future of food industry through best practices with special regards to restaurant hospitality. MONACŒCOART® offers an overview of a few sessions pointing out the main highlights.
« Accelerating the transition to a diet that is more respectful of our Planet's resources is a major challenge », Olivier Wenden, CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Farming and fishing in the age of climate change.
Fabien Dumont, market gardener, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Sylvain Pagnon, fisherman, Carro.
Elisabeth Vallet, director of Ethic Ocean, Paris.
Christophe Maier, CEO at Lagosta, Monaco.
Eva Moreno, paleo climatologist at the Natural History Museum of Paris.
This panel focused on sustainable supply and adaptation to climate change through environmentally friendly farming and fishing practices.
« Temperatures are currently rising faster than we have seen in thousands of years », Eva Moreno paleo climatologist at the Natural History Museum of Paris.
As a matter of facts, periods of global warming were already recorded 65 million years ago when the average temperatures were 10 degrees higher than today and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was relevant. What makes the difference today is the acceleration of the phenomenon as a result of anthropic activities.
In this context, oceans are playing a key role to mitigate extreme climatic phenomena. Their ability to sequester carbon dioxyde is scientifically proven as their role in damping the effects of heat waves. However, the warming of the seas, observed for thirty years, is putting at risk the beneficial role, encouraging meanwhile the invasion of aggressive exotic species in the Mediterranean Sea.
« In the Mediterranean, artisanal fishermen limit fishing areas. We make decisions together and adapt to the fish we find, just as growers adapt to the seasons », Sylvain Pagnon, fisherman.
The sustainable fishing comes from concrete actions like not catching species with reduced numbers or during reproduction in order to monitor fish populations and respect the natural regeneration. Recreating the most suitable environments for the prosperity of some endangered species counts as well. This is the mission of some companies committed in ocean restoration through marine biotechnologies and sustainable aquaculture like Lagosta, based in Monaco.
« Lobsters are extremely sensitive to their environment and diet. It is important to know the animal and its needs. We ensure that the population of this species survives sustainably in the wild », Christophe Maier, Founder and Managing Director of Lagosta
Sustainability in Gastronomy is also achieved by a different approach of consumers and other users, notably restaurants, who have the ability to shift the attention of the market on eco-friendly practices. Last but not least, decision makers should introduce a targeted regulatory framework to ensure the application of common rules.
« 86% of the existing fish on the market come from overfishing, but science allows us to make purchase recommendations to choose fish that are not overexploited. Anyone can check the information with their fish supplier or restaurant to make sure they are consuming responsibly », Elisabeth Vallet, Director of Ethic Océan providing recommendations to help professional buyers to choose the most abundant fish species.
« I do believe that a good chef values human beings, being the ambassador of his territory and respecting the planet by the adoption of sustainable practices both in his kitchen and outside », Lisa L'Hostis, Student at École Grégoire-Ferrandi, prestigious chef school in Paris.
Pierre-Édouard Robine, wild plant picker, Écouché-les-Vallées
Jean-Marie Pédron, seaweed harvester, Le Croisic
Alain Ducasse, Starred Chef
Mauro Colagreco, Starred Chef at Mirazur, Menton
The debate pointed out the influence that consumers can have in pushing the food industry to make more sustainable choices, from the cultivation of specific algae to the search for wild plants, through the launching of new deep-sea fish species to reduce the pressure of overfishing.
« Haute gastronomy is only the tip of the iceberg. Millions of people eat out so we need to change the way we offer them food. As Chefs, we are responsible for consumer trends, and it is up to us to use our influence to change them. Seaweed is one of the keys to better eating », Alain Ducasse, Michelin Star Chef and Entrepreneur.
Algae are indeed emblematic species for their carbon-dioxide-storage capacity while producing half the oxygen we breathe. But they can also represent an interesting ingredient available in many European regions, provided they are not contaminated by chemicals
« Algae are C4 plants (= adapted to live in a warm climate but with reduced water availability), which capture more CO2. They have a great impact on the planet, with the Amazon, they are the lungs of the Earth », Mauro Colagreco, Michelin Star Chef and Entrepreneur.
All speakers stressed the importance of relying increasingly on zero-kilometer products for obvious reasons of Sustainability, reduced transport and incentive to local economies.
Reducing the use of plastic containers or packaging is also on the top list. The Michelin 3-star restaurant, Mirazur by Mauro Colagreco, has recently achieved its plastic-free target through a step-by-step process besides personally growing most of the ingredients used in the preparation of the gourmet dishes.
« Gastronomy can evolve within a micro-region. Rather than bringing exotic products from abroad, you can find extraordinary wild plants at home. Everyone should be able to access this type of food », Pierre-Édouard Robine, Gastronomy-lover, Ecologist and Ornithologist.
Training next generation pf chefs to adopt a responsible management of foodstuffs while cooking is then crucial to reduce food waste and act eco responsibly in harmony with rhythms of Nature. Thus, Chefs have the power to make sustainable gastronomy a reality! ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing