Do food cultures define a place or the other way around?
Uncovering the Challenges of Local Produce & Food Tourism Experiences
in Pursuit of Developing a Culinary Destination
How do consumer expectations determine what is placed on a menu? Can our perception of a region influence what we’re willing to pay for a meal? How invested are consumers in knowing where their food comes from and are they willing to pay more for local produce? Is sourcing local produce a myth for chefs? How important is it that provenance be maintained on menus?
The Tweed shire produces a wide variety of farm fresh produce. However, there are challenges and limitations in the distribution of this produce to local restaurants.
On the demand-side of food tourism, the literature shows that there is a strong connection between local produce and the image of a destination known for its food.
The desire of consumers to seek local food experiences can enable a region to develop its reputation as a food tourism destination. Part of the value of this research has been to gain a greater understanding of the challenges faced by both farmers and chefs in the pursuit of food tourism experiences for the Tweed shire.
Amy Colli is the Industry Development Manager at Destination Tweed: 2050 Collective, a membership-based industry body specialising in food tourism industry development for the Tweed shire.
Amy’s career spans 25years in food, wine, events, education and industry development in regional areas. She has organised local food festivals, industry networking events, and is an advocate for local producers. She is dedicated to connecting farmers, food producers and chefs to improve connectivity within local food system networks.
Amy has delivered agritourism programs and resources (for example, ‘Byron Region Food: A Northern Rivers Food & Beverage’ handbook) for local government, assisted local farmers to diversify and connected tourism operators with local food activation opportunities.
She is a frequent MC and committee member of industry organisations such as Northern Rivers Food, seasonal events such as Greet Your Growers and the biennial Symposium of Australian Gastronomy. She has experience in food writing, food tourism tours and restaurant judging.
Prior roles with Southern Cross University and TAFE NSW (Wine & Food Technology Centre) involved the organisation and hosting of domestic and international study tours, and industry engagement. She has experience in training roles within the wine industry, hospitality and founded her experience in restaurants and resorts.
In 2019, Amy completed a Master of Gastronomic Tourism (Le Cordon Bleu/Southern Cross University).
Great presentation Amy!
As a chef this hits close to home and totally agree with the struggles of supply and distribution. While working as a head chef I used to have constant discussions with the owner of the venue because of supply. He wanted our dishes to be available all year round because his focus was always reliability to the customer. To me seasonality and quality was more important, so an out of stock sign for some products was a good thing. I always lost the battle...
Another good example was when I was working in Bundaberg, I worked closely with farmers representatives to create a direct distribution system and also failed. I could not believe how ridiculous the system is, produce from Bundy travels to Rocklea to go back to Bundy for consumers to buy. Still frustrates me to think about it.
I'm reminded of the small, family-run operations in Italy and France that create a daily menu based only on what's in season/available (and of course, far fewer policy restrictions impeding operation thereof). I'm sure part of the problem is that we want the pleasant delusion of the enormous menu and the year-round cornucopia when we dine. The horror of bruschetta only being available in summer! The wringing-hands and cold sweat of limited choice. The inability to adjust every item to every dietary foible. It seems to me that 'foodies' often just want it all, and dislike the notion that actual local/seasonal eating may require a less demanding approach. Having said that, I did an inventory of my own 100-mile radius and discovered that we produce 80% meat (beef/lamb), a few nuts, and not enough veg to make a salad. Like Tweed, a foodie destination will need variety amongst producers, and that too would need to be carefully scaffolded to ensure equity and reliablity in supply.
Is there increasing vertical integration with farm shops or restaurants with their own farms/gardens? Would such examples of vertical integration be a solution to the dilemma of an increasing number of consumers desiring local food experiences, but not being able to actually have such experiences due to the communication and distribution gap between farmers and chefs? It's been a while since I dived into the literature on food tourism. So, pardon the elementary nature of the questions.
"Ramming information down their throat when they don't want it won't make people happy". This statement also seems applicable to @Catherine Lockley's paper on hedonic delivery of nutritional information.
Is there a region that has resolved the distribution problem?
Hi Amy, Is the Tweed agri and culinary tourism strategy available publicly?
Thanks Amy, as a resident of the Northern Rivers I share your interest. I am wondering though, in the background (and not part of your paper) about the competing land use issues that impede this development. Would be great to get some local traction on this work -- the new Northern Rivers Times?
Great paper Amy, one thing that also needs to be watched is the advertising people used to produce the regional guides published for tourists and the need to be accurate and informative, to give a sense of what to do and see, what to eat and drink. Which is why I found a promotion for a South Australian wine region both outrageous and hysterically funny. The image depicted a man reclining on a picnic rug in a bucolic vineyard setting, beside him an ice bucket with a bottle of wine and a pineapple.
Pineapples are really not a standard crop grown in any South Australian wine region. It is almost impossible to find Pineapples and a compatible wine in any list of food and wine matches. Since there are no glasses or table ware depicted, I must assume that the pineapple will be ripped apart with the bare hands and the wine drunk from the bottle.
My reaction was my usual ie produce an art work. A satire that adds other people, including an indigenous person from South America, the original home of the pineapple as well as other incongruous fruit and vegetables.
"Checking for ripeness" 2016 collage
- This time I worked out how to reduce the size of the image