March 13, 2010
By Judy McEuen
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Mar. 13, 2010/ Troy Media/ — One of the best ways to make travel better and more meaningful is to eat locally-produced food, which will not only help the local economy but the earth’s environment too.
The green movement tells us to shop locally because foods that are flown in from around the world use up valuable resources and add to the carbon burden of the earth. (For another perspective on the shop-local movement READ The shop-local movement has some pitfalls)
But it’s more than that. The shop locally philosophy helps local communities everywhere, but it is especially helpful for more remote and exotic countries.
Local food fresher
And even though modern technology has made it possible to whisk foods around the world quickly and keep them fresh, you will never have it as fresh as if it has been produced locally.
Local food will taste better and be cheaper. Regional specialties might be foreign to you but you’re traveling to learn about that foreign county and its food and culture so go ahead and experiment. Eating local specialties will give you insights to the local culture that you can’t read about in guidebooks. Try something local that you’ve never even heard of. You might find that you LOVE it.
Sampling new foods is one of our favorite parts of traveling. We love everything from street stands to hole-in-the-wall cafes to bistros. Two and three star Micheline restaurants are usually out of our budget, but you can travel far and eat locally and well without fancy menus and multi-star rankings.
Italy doesn’t seem like a place where you would have to get too adventurous does it? I mean, everyone knows what pasta is. But in Venice try Seppioline Nero. It is probably better that you don’t know ahead that it is squid in its own ink sauce but you will love it. You’ll probably order it at least once every time you go back to Venice (and you will at least want to).
You could ask your hotel for eggs or pancakes for breakfast in Laos, but it’s so much more fun to try the noodle soup that is traditional and spice it up with bits of meat and vegetables and chilies. And instead of toast have some of those delicious spring rolls on the side. The memory will take you right back to your trip. Bacon and eggs can never do that.
Food safety first
Of course, you always want to pay attention to how clean the local place looks. And if a local restaurant is serving up some sort of exotic meat, you should make sure you’re not eating something endangered. That can happen in Asia and Africa.
While one local delicacy I’ve never been convinced to try is Mopani worms in Africa, they are considered to be a high source of protein and are highly nutritious. Mopane worms, often hand-picked by children and women, are pinched at the tail end to rupture the inwards. The picker then squeezes it like a tube of toothpaste or lengthwise like a concertina, and whips it to expel the slimy, green contents of the gut. Go ahead and double dare me…. it’s just never gonna happen on that one! But set your own parameters, and stretch your appetite a little too. You’ll be surprised at what you discover . . . and eat!
Channels: The Calgary Beacon, March 16, 2010