Earlier this week, Launceston Gastronomy officially launched its bid to join the ranks of UNESCO’s creative cities network – a collection of 250 Cities globally that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level. Unsurprisingly, Launceston’s bid has its roots in the gastronomic virtues of the region.

Gastronomy: To grow, cook & serve. A philosophy that underpins the paddock to plate phenomenon that has become so popular worldwide in recent years, but Launceston’s bid goes beyond that. More ‘soil-to-stomach’ or ‘grape to glass’; it embodies the whole relationship between food and local culture, the art of growing, preparing and serving food, the cooking styles of our region, and the science of good eating.

This bid is remarkable and worthy of the city’s support, but not because it helps to connect Northern Tasmania to the world via food, which it does. And not just because it positions Launceston as one of the great regional food cities of the world, which it also does. And not even because it provides a platform for food sustainability in a mixed agricultural and urban context. It does all of that and creates an interplay between local agriculture in our Tamar Valley backyard; agriscience that combines the best of agriculture partnering with a start-up ecosystem of technologists and educators; hospitality that thrives with the abundance of local produce; and destination tourism that underpins a vibrant visitor economy – all hallmarks of a growing and thriving city. It’s a lesson in collaboration and focuses some of our most experienced business and community leaders around a shared goal, and that’s great for our city.

Looking externally, UNESCO’s endorsement of Launceston as a Creative City of Gastronomy will provide entrance to a network of like-minded cities, a hive-mind to solve complex problems around the world’s many food security issues. Fingers crossed for a favourable outcome! As the world emerges from a post-COVID stupor, the benefits accrue beyond Launceston, and we have a role to play.

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