Do you ever wonder if the food safety and nutrition issues that receive so much attention in the U.S. on a daily basis are as prevalent in other parts of the world? Last month, I had the opportunity to tour Portugal and Spain, and although I was there for vacation, this thought crossed my mind a few times as I ate my way through these two beautiful countries. Maybe it was because I was so in awe of the immense history and stunning architecture, but food safety and nutrition controversies did not seem to be the big news stories there the way they are here, with daily headlines on U.S. morning news shows blurting out the latest food “crisis.” But the gastronomy to be enjoyed by travelers was certainly a big bragging point in both countries!
I was a bit surprised that I did not see more of the absence labeling that we’ve become so accustomed to seeing on the front of food packages in the US, claiming “free of” this or that. I also noted the narrower selection and/or smaller packaging (but higher prices) of some food products, the slices of under-ripe tomatoes on my panini sandwich, etc.
And I suppose with fewer choices, there is less opportunity to be picky – you get what you get. While I noted the absence of many of the choices and conveniences we enjoy (and often take for granted) here in the U.S. every day, I certainly took the opportunity to enjoy all the delicious pastries and gelato Europe is known for (while balancing my added calorie intake with lots of walking)!
Although I was focused on enjoying the culture and the fun to be had in these amazing places, I got the sense that the locals, too, were not interested in getting caught up in things like the healthfulness of the foods being promoted at the World Cup. They had too much team spirit and country pride to care about anything else but coming together to root for their country, and it reminded me that the culture and camaraderie I was witnessing, along with the celebration of rich and diverse cultures through enjoying delicious food, are what I will remember and what matters most.
What travel adventures involving food have you had this summer? Tweet us @FoodInsight using the hashtag #foodtravels and share your stories and pictures with us!