Slow Food-CE Strategy unveiled for the sustainable promotion of the Central Europe’s gastronomic heritage

When food is considered part of our intangible cultural heritage it can be an enormous resource, yet all too often its true value is not appreciated. One of the only ways this great potential has been partially explored is through culinary tourism, but we should be working to treat our gastronomic heritage as a resource that can complement environmental sustainability and social integration too.

The Slow Food-CE project, financed by the Interreg Central Europe Programme, represents a transnational cooperation strategy that aims to show how gastronomic cultural heritage can be integrated into the policies of our cities, starting with five in as many countries: Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Brno (Czechia), Kecskemét (Hungary) and Krakow (Poland).

Between 2017 and 2020 each of these cities put in place concrete actions aimed at enhancing the specific characteristics of local gastronomy, its roots and the cultural heritage they express. The strategy will function as a roadmap for other cities eager to invest in gastronomic heritage as a tool to integrate economic, environmental and social sustainability.

One strategy, four steps 

The first five cities to test a common approach for the protection and promotion of their respective gastronomic heritage worked by sharing their problems, knowledge and solutions in order to find innovative solutions that actively involve local communities: the result is a four-step strategy. 

The first step is context analysis: this means mapping the gastronomic cultural heritage of a given area, trying to identify its current and historical characteristics, and also trying to imagine its unexpressed potential. During the first phase the cities are asked to identify the main stakeholders within the local food system and all the potential consumers and beneficiaries.

The second step focuses on planning activities. Before taking action  it’s important to establish a dialogue with the relevant decision makers, local institutions and all those who might be interested in the project. The planning phase also includes the definition of objectives, roles and responsibilities, the creation of an effective and targeted communication plan, and an agreement of the indicators which will be used to evaluate the results. 

The third step is to take action: focusing on the specific characteristics identified in step one, the aim is to test specific solutions focused on enhancing local gastronomy. The use of public spaces was prioritized in all the cities involved. 

The fourth step is feedback, where results are measured, critical and participatory analysis is performed and the results are shared with partners at the European and international levels. 

Why is it essential to involve the decision makers? 

This model was created through the experiences of the first five cities, and intends to be a transferable, replicable model. It is easily adaptable and can be used in other geographical and cultural contexts, both in Europe and beyond. To make this possible, involvement of local stakeholders is fundamental: the support of political decision-makers is useful in the planning phases and facilitates both the successful implementation of the project and the collection and dissemination of the results. 

The European Union has repeatedly stressed the importance of protecting the gastronomic heritage: the European Parliament resolution of March 2014 on “European gastronomic heritage: cultural and educational aspects” recognised food and gastronomy as an artistic and cultural expression and as pillars of family and social relations. More recently, in 2019, the EU itself launched the European Green Deal, the roadmap to make the EU economy sustainable. In the context of the EU Green Deal, a ‘From Farm to Fork’ sustainable food strategy will be essential to achieve the program’s ambitious objectives: revitalizing the market and the competitive ecosystem of the European Union. 

The SlowFood-CE Strategy (EN)
The SlowFood-CE Strategy (IT)
The SlowFood-CE Strategy (CZ)
The SlowFood-CE Strategy (HR)
The SlowFood-CE Strategy (HU)
The SlowFood-CE Strategy (PL)