Belém, capital city of the Pará State with 1.5 million inhabitants has 65% of its territory distributed across 39 islands. This geographical asset offers the city a diversity of local food products such as seafood, açaí, cocoa and pupunha. Gastronomy is anchored in the city’s life, as it is home to the historic food market, Ver-o-Peso, which has given rise to the largest annual festival in the Amazon region dedicated to gastronomy. Today, the sector plays an important role in the local economy by employing 43,000 people.
The initiatives and programmes developed by the city particularly focus on food technology and innovation, as demonstrated by the establishment of the Institute for Food Technology affiliated with the Federal University of Pará, as well as by many research laboratories devoted to sustainable agrofood systems. A 2015 initiative, titled Belém City of Taste, testifies to significant efforts to improve nutrition habits of the population, notably of the youth.
Belém assumes a pivotal role in recognizing the field of gastronomy within local and national cultural policies. In September 2013, the city hosted the first Conference on Amazonian Gastronomy, which resulted in a request to the federal authorities to recognise gastronomy in all public policies related to culture. The proposal was adopted two months later by the official National Conference on Culture of the Ministry of Culture.
As a Creative City of Gastronomy, Bélem envisages:
- establishing the Global Centre on Gastronomy and Biodiversity to improve the conditions for food clusters in technology, training and services involving the rural and urban dimensions, with the objective of setting the city as a global model in food technology and innovation;
- organizing the dialogue event dedicated to global creative gastronomy and focused on Belém special dishes and their corresponding dishes from other cuisines, while taking advantage of the comparative advantage of the UCCN by involving other Creative Cities of Gastronomy;
- implementing the cross-cutting project Paulo Martins aimed at establishing a pedestrian boulevard dedicated to gastronomy, music and folk art to foster the quality of urban life; and
- nurturing the dissemination of culinary specialties by establishing the Food Museum, the House of Herbs and Seasonings, as well as the Farm-to- Table restaurant that will be a creative facility for distributing local products through a permanent partnership with 1,400 families from communities of the 39 islands of Belém.