EPRSauthor By / March 10, 2014

European gastronomic heritage: cultural and educational aspects

A report on the European gastronomic heritage: cultural and educational aspects by Santiago Fisas Ayxela (EPP, Spain) was adopted by the Committee…

© raven / Fotolia

A report on the European gastronomic heritage: cultural and educational aspects by Santiago Fisas Ayxela (EPP, Spain) was adopted by the Committee on Culture and Education on 17 February 2014, and will be debated in plenary on 12 March (procedure file 2013/2181(INI)). It calls for a knowledge and culture of food and gastronomy to be incorporated in school curricula as a compulsory component and for the development of related education policies.

Educating European youth about food and gastronomy aims to combine healthy eating habits with an awareness of the diversity and quality of the regions, landscapes and products of Europe’s gastronomy.

European gastronomic heritage: cultural and educational aspects
© raven / Fotolia

According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europepublished in February, being overweight is “so common that it risks becoming a new norm in Europe: up to 27% of 13-year-olds and 33% of 11-year olds are overweight“. An inappropriate or unhealthy diet is one of the key risk factors for obesity and non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes which generate huge expenditure in health systems. In order to avoid the health problems and related costs associated with unbalanced food choices it is essential to incorporate learning about diet and nutrition as well as taste workshops into the various national educational systems.Europe is rich in local culinary specialities and regional gastronomic traditions, products and production methods. These make up a part of the local identity of EU regions and form part of Europe’s cultural heritage. The report highlights the increasing importance of gastronomy and cooking as an artistic and cultural expression, and recalls that they constitute an essential element of tourism. It advocates the development of an appropriate food and gastronomy culture in order to preserve this sociocultural heritage and highlight the importance of food as an integral part of a society’s culture.

See also our Keysource on the Promotion and information actions for agricultural products.

Overview of related EU initiatives

The EU funds two voluntary EU-wide school schemes: the School Milk Scheme, set up in 1977, and the School Fruit Scheme, set up in 2009. They are intended to encourage healthy eating habits among children by providing easier access to fruit supplies and quality milk pro­ducts in conjunction with awareness-raising. On 30 January the Commission published a proposal bringing the two schemes together under a joint framework : Eat well – feel good(background memo: FAQ on new School Schemes for Fruit, Vegetables and Milk).

The EU raises awareness of European gastronomic traditions as part of the European immaterial cultural heritage through, notably, the European Heritage Days(joint action with the Council of Europe) which aim to raise the awareness of European citizens towards Europe’s cultural diversity. Each year since 1991, national and regional events are organised around a special theme, which can include specific forms of heritage such as culinary traditions.


Cooking and Food Skills in School in Europe/ Eurydice and National Foundation for Educational Research (2013).

This briefing presents the results of a survey on how cooking and food skills are taught in primary and secondary schools in Europe.

Rebuilding the European Market Social Economy: Health issue for the Union: Nutrition & Education/ Gregorio Varela-Moreiras. Paper presented at the European Ideas Network Seminar, 9.11.2011.

This paper presents the principles of nutrition education and makes recommendations for its implementation in Europe.

Current Implementation status of the Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues/ DG SANCO, 2010.

The implementation report lists initiatives in each Member States in the field of nutrition education (indicator 4a ” Mandatory inclusion of nutrition education in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools pupils”).

Stakeholder views

International institutions


The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritagewas established in 2003. Last December the Mediterranean diet joined the French gastronomic meal(inscribed in 2010) on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage, giving recognition to the unique character of the European culinary traditions and lifestyle.

Creative Cities Network– Cities of Gastronomy

The Creative Cities Network seeks to develop international cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development by facilitating the sharing of experience, knowledge and resources among the member cities as a means to promote the development of local creative industries. Cities can apply to any of the seven creative networks: literature, film, music, crafts & folk art, design, media arts and gastronomy. There are currently five Cities of Gastronomy: Popayán, Chengdu, Östersund, Jeonjuand Zahle. Chengdu has published an evaluation report of its activities (2012).

World Health Organisation

The WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health adopted in 2004 provides recommendations on the promotion of healthy diets and regular physical activity for the prevention of non- communicable diseases. Art 49 recommends that “School policies and programmes should support the adoption of healthy diets and physical activity”.

Food and nutrition policy for schools: A tool for the development of school nutrition programmes in the European Region/ WHO Regional Office for Europe (2006).

This policy document was developed from an analysis of best practice and enriched by several contributions from nutrition scientists and education specialists to provide recommendations on how schools can best promote health through offering education and practice of good nutrition.


European Nutrition Foundations network – European Food Framework.

The European Food Framework (EFF) project, completed in 2012, was led by the Network of European Nutrition Foundations (ENF), which comprises twelve members: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK. It published the pan-European food competence frameworkfor children and young people aged 5-16 years relating to diet (food and drink), active lifestyles and energy balance.

European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food/ Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA).

EHCA publishes the Food & History journalsince 2003 and maintains a bibliographyon the history and culture of food


Slow Food

Slow Food is a non-profit organization that works to defend biodiversity in food supply, spread taste education and connect producers with co-producers through events and initiatives. Slow Food’s education activities, events, and campaigns promote a wider understanding of food and su­stainable choices, as defined in their Education manifesto and Education handbook. In 2010-11 Slow Food coordinated the European Schools for healthy food – slow food in the canteen campaign, funded by the European to raise awareness in European schools on the EU Fruit and Milk schemes.

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