Regional food cultures: integral to the rural tourism product?
Authors: Beer, S., Edwards, J., Fernandes, C. and Sampaio, F.
Food culture is an extremely important part of the total cultural product of an area and many regions of many countries have very distinctive food cultures. Equally tourism results from a region or locality satisfying the demands of the tourist, and these demands frequently include the experience of speciﬁc landscapes and environments together with the culture, heritage and hospitality of the area. While food culture is embedded in many forms of tourism it may be argued to be particularly relevant to the development of the rural tourism on oﬀer. Rural tourism is frequently portrayed as being in some way ‘green’ and was one of the ﬁrst forms of tourism to be promoted as having the potential to approach the elusive goal of being ‘sustainable’. This would imply that there is the potential for a viable tourism industry in rural locations to achieve a balance in the use and development of the inherent natural, human and physical capital of these areas without diminishing the natural capital below an acceptable threshold. The contention that local food production systems, if ﬁnancially viable, can contribute towards maintaining local economies, societies, cultures and environments provides positive encouragement for looking closely at the role of food both in the tourism industry and within local economies. In the UK, for example, the Countryside Agency has recently launched a campaign called ‘Eat the View’. This campaign highlights the link between the food that British people buy and the countryside they visit. Ewan Cameron, Chairman of the Countryside Agency, has said that, ‘Purchasing decisions made by consumers can have an important inﬂuence on how land is managed’ (Countryside Agency 2000). ‘Some products, because of the way they are produced, their area of origin or other qualities can help maintain the environmental quality and diversity of the countryside, at the same time delivering real beneﬁts to the rural economy and local communities’ (WDFLT 2000).