Saturation of tourists in Palma. | cañellas


The new Balearic tourism law requires, at minimum, three per cent of hotels’ food and drink to be locally produced in the Balearics. This increases to five per cent depending on establishment. Three or five, the percentage is not exactly great. The law encourages greater percentages in that a revised star classification system scores the amount of local produce, the Podemos-appointed director of agriculture and the Podemos parliamentary spokesperson having lauded this in an article as a step in the right direction to food sovereignty in the Balearics. Good news for the agriculture and tourism sectors and good news for sustainability.

All true, but how far can this ever go? Tourist saturation and all that, but it is a reality that can’t be avoided - at the height of summer there can be over two million mouths to be fed and watered at any given time (residents plus tourists plus seasonal workers). Insularity is a burden, agreed, and insularity means limited resources, not least the land needed for food production.

Food sovereignty isn’t the same thing as self-sufficiency, as there is (or should be) an acceptance of limitations. But semantics can make it appear as if they are one and the same. More meaningful in terms of strategic food supply on these islands should be viable targets that take constraints into account. Even then, there are other factors - drought or pest. The ambitions are good and they are needed, but there also has to be realism.