Zero km food (0 km food) is a concept which few years ago first appeared in Italy. It denotes the food produced, sold and eaten locally – the food which travelled zero kilometers. Mainly it refers to non-industrial fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, honey etc, which does not go trough global trade chains, therefore it does not have big price margins and quality lose during long storage in international supermarkets. It also has an important ecological aspect which can not be overseen – since there is no transport involved (we buy from the shop on the corner), the environment does not suffer from direct and indirect pollution.
I also incountered with the zero km food concept in Italy myself, especially in the Veneto region where I used to study. This region is probably the most famous region when it comes to food and beverages (prosecco, pinot grigo, tiramisu, bigoli pasta, aperol spritz all come from here). All this f&b are quite dominant in their supermarkets, on the markets and in restaurants, while imported f&b exist in smaller numbers. Partly, they owe it to competitive Italian economy, since prices of domestic f&b products are lower comparing to foreign competition. On the other hand, the consciousness of the Italians is very high when it comes to supporting the local trade and local economy. That is what it does not come as a surprise that this concept comes from here.
Why is this concept relevant for sustainable development? For several reasons! First, it is highly connected to food sovereignty – the right of people to define their own food systems. Both countries and local communities should have the right and possibilities to grow their own food, and decrease the dependence on global food players. Secondly, zero km food supports the rare and unique food species which should be kept and not lost. The example is more than 100 species of potatoes in Ecuador which continue to exist and support eco-diversity in that country.
Next, zero km food is important from the perspective of tourism and nation branding. Each country has its own traditional food, more or less famous, depending on the country. These traditions should be kept, both for the nation pride, identity and nation brands, but also for tourism. People travel to various places, and their aim is to taste local food produced locally which can not be found somewhere else. In tourism zero km food has a huge role.
The successful practice which Italy introduced can be seen in many other places. The country I come from, Serbia still remains quite comfortable with zero km food, where customers still buy in local markets giving the push to local foods. We should not stop doing this. Our food, our tradition, our independence.
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