Music may be the food of love, but here at Awasi it’s a love of food that is music to our ears. And what type of food do we love most? Food that is seasonal, locally sourced, sustainably and ethically produced and, of course, bursting with flavour.

With that in mind, we have teamed up with Relais & Chateaux’s Food For Change campaign in partnership with Slow Food International. The campaign, launched across Relais & Chateaux’s associated hotels worldwide, is designed to encourage hotels and their chefs to focus on culinary best practices to minimise their impact on the environment, protect biodiversity, and support local suppliers and heritage breeds – in a word, to encourage the use of “Slow Food” and use of local and seasonal produce.

Food can be both a cause and victim of climate change, with the food system responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Industrially reared livestock, carbon intensive meats such as beef, overuse of chemicals or vast monoculture plantations are damaging to both local ecosystems and the planet’s atmosphere, whilst changing climate patterns can disrupt crop production or damage soil fertility, rendering crops unharvestable or hitting yields for local producers.

Beyond that, an emphasis on intensive livestock production has led to a decline in heritage breeds. These breeds have been bred over generations to develop traits that made them suited to specific local environments, for example with high levels of disease and pest resistance, fertility, foraging ability or adaptability, as well as giving some local character to farmland across the world.

In recognition of this, the Food For Change campaign has drawn up a series of tips, ideas and suggestions for chefs to apply when composing their menus, including:

– Using seasonal, locally produced ingredients, for example grown within a 50km radius of each property

– Reducing the amount of meat on the menu, and where meat is included moving away from beef and using lower carbon-intensive produce such as lamb or poultry

– Creating more vegetarian dishes to demonstrate a commitment to decreasing the carbon footprint of the menu

– Eliminating meat reared intensively using industrial production methods, and instead focusing on animals raised in open, free range environments

– Supporting the rearing of local, heritage breeds, and indicating the breed and producers on the menu

– For seafood, ensuring it has been sustainably and ethically sourced under guidelines issued by, for example, World Oceans Day

– Encouraging a zero-waste policy and using as many parts of a product as possible

– For “colonial” products such as sugar, coffee, cocoa or tea, ensuring these are Fairtrade and organic

– For wines, incorporating natural wines into the wine list (low sulfite, biodynamic, organic, naturally fermented)

– Incorporate products from The Ark of Taste, a database of heritage produce including fruits, vegetables, heritage breeds, cheeses, breads, sweets and cured meats listed on a country by country basis

The campaign also encourages chefs to choose a “Hero Ingredient” to showcase their commitment to a more environmentally-friendly approach to selecting and using produce.

At Awasi Atacama, our Relais & Chateaux property in San Pedro de Atacama, our chef, Juan Pablo Mardones, chose Chañar, a sweet berry which grows on a thorny shrub in the Atacama Desert as his Hero Ingredient. He put together a tasting menu and a cookery class – just one of many excursions guests can enjoy in the Atacama – to demonstrate the versatility and tastiness of this little-known fruit, and discusses his choice in the video below:

Crème Brûlée de Chañar as prepared by Awasi Atacama chef Juan Pablo Mardones

Awasi Patagonia chef Matias Crosta chose the Chiloe Potato as his Hero Ingredient. Watch him work his magic with this tasty and versatile vegetable below:

The use of a Hero Ingredient and championing local ingredients perfectly balances the need to lower the environmental impact of the food industry with creating memorable and delicious meals for our guests.

After all, food isn’t just a pleasure – produced and sourced responsibly, it can also be a way to care for our planet.