Written on 25/06/2024 by
Are you someone who likes to know where the food you buy comes from? Who produced them, how they are produced, what you can do with them? Then, like me, you’re a fan of a short-chain food system, where the food on your plate has passed through as few intermediaries as possible. Local products and a short food chain are big in Ghent.

From field to plate without intermediate steps

I already mentioned the rich culinary culture of the city I live and work in, as well as the fact that this city plays a pioneering role where sustainability is concerned.  Sure, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available, but sustainability is about much more than that. In Ghent, sustainable agriculture is given the chance it deserves and short chain initiatives are continuously taken and encouraged.   

From field to plate: a sustainable principle that is put into practice by quite a number of Ghent restaurants!
Lieta Goethijn

From producer to consumer

What is a short chain exactly?  Well, it means that you buy your products directly from the producer or the farmer whenever possible, thus limiting the number of intermediaries like supermarkets or grocer’s shops. Why am I waxing so lyrical about this? Because removing links from the chain between producers and consumers has quite some benefits. For starters, the food producers get a fair price for their products, as the price paid by the consumer lands directly in their pockets. As for the consumers, they know exactly where the food they buy comes from and how it is grown or produced. The foodstuffs are ultra-fresh and of the highest quality and in addition, buying locally considerably reduces the food miles.   

Good stuff from the farmer’s market

During a city break in Ghent you have the opportunity to discover delicious local products.  Many of the local restaurants make a conscious effort (as you will read below), but you can also buy local products yourself, either to enjoy them right away or to prepare them during your stay in the city. Ghent boasts no less than seven famer’s markets, where famers sell their produce.  It’s there you need to go to buy daily fresh vegetables and fruit as well as tasty dairy products.  The covered Moscou Market in Gentbrugge and the Lousbergmarkt, a covered food market near the city centre, are also worth a visit.   

Picking fruit

Residents of Ghent can subscribe to (organic) vegetable boxes or become members of a local food team. Self-picking farm memberships, an example of CSA or community-supported agriculture, are popular as well. Of course, this is not an option if you come to Ghent on a city break. But if you visit Ghent during the fruit harvest season, you can pick your own fruit at several spots in the city centre and the suburbs.   

A nice plate of “Vanier”

I already mentioned it: restaurants and shops in Ghent make an effort to contribute to a short food supply chain.  Their efforts are supported by the local government, which set up the online platform “Vanier” ('from here' in English). On this platform, professional buyers (hospitality establishments and shops)  can place their orders directly with the supplier (the farmer).  The latter delivers the products at the requested time. Vanier is a co-operative project: the buyers and the producers decide on the practical organisation of the system by mutual agreement.  From field to plate: a sustainable principle that is put into practice by quite a number of Ghent restaurants!

Lieta Goethijn

Lieta Goethijn is responsible for the food strategy of the city of Ghent.  As a mum, she also tries to cook healthy and sustainable meals at home.  Her magic words? Local, social, sustainable, respectful. Being a vegetarian and a member of a self-picking farm, Lieta enthusiastically adheres to the principle “practice what you preach”

Read all blogposts by Lieta Goethijn