Gastronomy for development

Laura Hernández, CEO of Funleo, told Country Brand Colombia about the importance of gastronomy to preserve the country’s heritage. 

Colombia is a gastronomical paradise due to its natural and cultural diversity. Miscegenation along with a rich and varied landscape has made the country a destination for travellers from around the world who want to try new, traditional and savory Latin American dishes.

Geography favors us. As the world’s second most biodiverse country, our equatorial location allows a wide range of suitable climates for the growth, and production of world-known agricultural goods, such as coffee.

This diversity also gives place to varied culinary traditions and life styles that characterize each of the country’s landforms. A perfect example is that of the Eastern Plains. Its inhabitant’s main activity is cattle breeding, and all their cultural and gastronomical traditions revolve around it.

That is why innovative ideas are starting to develop in Colombia in order to preserve our traditions. Gastronomy also joined the initiative. That is how the Leo Espinosa Foundation – Funleo was created. Laura Hernández, CEO and Project Coordinator, told Country Brand Colombia about Gastronomy for development and how it promotes sustainability through cuisine.

Country Brand Colombia (CBC): Why is gastronomy one of our best heritage assets?

Laura Hernández (LH): Gastronomy transcends physiological needs. Eating is not only about the products and ingredients, but about the practices, habits, and traditions that revolve around cultural value.

Gastronomy has intangible heritage value: even though recipes can materialize, there are countless legacies, stories, experiences, and practices around the food that forms our traditions and national identity.

CBC: What is Gastronomy for development? Why was it created? How is it promoted? 

LH: The motto Gastronomy for Development comes from the idea that Colombia’s natural and traditional heritage is a strategic and potential development resource that should be properly taken advantage of. This is why preserving and promoting natural species, along with initiatives of gastronomic promotion, allow communities to solve certain issues such as food scarcity, food security, nourishment, and strengthening of cultural identity.

CBC: How does Gastronomy for development work at Funleo?

LH: We lead processes that bolster communities’ cultural identity by creating awareness and promoting creativity through gastronomy. We promote the constant consumption of local, available, and healthy products in order to meet a community’s basic needs and improve its quality of life.

We must understand the sense of belonging and identification as a major factor when dealing with feelings of inequality, or relative poverty in communities. Therefore, we try to create awareness about communities’ biological and cultural diversity by vindicating local cuisine and the use of local products in the kitchen.

We look for promising or underrated biological species as part of the process of creating awareness, so that they can be integrated into the local daily diet and   gastronomical offer.

We support processes that strengthen the local community’s social ties through cuisine. For this we support initiatives that involve participants, and bring together their closed ones around gastronomical projects.

We use local gastronomy to showcase local products that come out of team work.

CBC: How do you showcase the heritage work communities have done?

LH: We take it to embassies, consulates, and international events to which chef Leo Espinosa has been invited to and show the product of the gastronomical research.

Learn more about Colombian cuisine and discover why when it comes to innovation and development, the answer is Colombia.