Valencia, model for food sustainability
Few cities have the privilege of enjoying huge natural larders to supply them and provide seasonal products while still leaving very little mark on the planet.
A farming area known as L’Horta de Valencia surrounds Valencia with thousands of square metres of fruit and vegetable fields. It extends to La Albufera Natural Park, where several local varieties of rice are grown, providing the main ingredient in Valencia’s most international dish: paella.
Small farmers from L’Horta have access to La Ecotira, their own space for direct sales of organic products at Mercavalència, the central infrastructure that distributes local goods to industry professionals, including restaurants and food shops.
L’Horta de Valencia has also formed a bond between the rural and the urban, with co-existing cultures of agriculture and water, gaining it recognition from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as one of the seven SIPAMs (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) in Europe.
The Mediterranean Sea provides fresh fish to supply the Fish Market at La Marina de Valencia on a daily basis, ending up on the menus of many local restaurants or on supermarket shelves and in municipal markets.
In Valencia, nature’s two larders, L’Horta and the Mediterranean, have recently been joined by urban apiculture. Some twenty hives dot the flat roofs of several public buildings to pollinate and contribute to the biodiversity of the city's parks. The honey collected, around 40 kilos a year, is beginning to be found in dishes on the menus of local restaurants around the city.
Valencia will be home to the World Sustainable Urban Food Centre
But Valencia’s commitment to food sustainability goes much further. Since 2019, it has been home to the FAO’s World Sustainable Urban Food Centre of València, making it a leader in the response to the challenges facing major cities in the areas of diet and nutrition.