The Power of Taste, e.g. of food and drink, has been the subject of rigorous study. It has been scientifically proven that taste has power, namely because it affects one of the most basic human instincts, that of hunger. The influence of Taste is indisputable. It creates strong emotions in humans. Our emotions affect not only our mood but also our opinions of other people, places and situations.

Given the indisputable emotional power of food and drink, I have observed for years around me, the power of Taste and how it can be the cause for the creation of food and beverage communities around the world. Taste connects people who come from the same places and people who once visited those same places. An Italian born and living permanently outside of Italy, cannot resist the taste of pizza or pasta. The Greek, in whatever country of the world he lives in, even if he does not travel often to Greece, is emotionally touched every time he tries the Greek salad or a piece of spinach pie.

Those who have visited a country and tried its food and local drinks, will discuss it for years after their visit. And if they liked it, they will continue to seek that taste even at home, buying those local products wherever they live.  This common love for the tastes of a place they have visited in the past, will always unite those people with others.

I have thought many times that this intense power of Taste over people could help to create strong communities, with strong ties among that community’s members. For members of food and beverage communities who all originate from a single place and love its flavors, and also for those who have visited the same place and enjoyed the flavors they tasted there, they all feel a special connection to that place. The Taste of a place can help build strong and active communities around the world, with members closely connected to each other, united by their great emotional connection to the food and drink of a city, region or country.

Let’s see what could happen if we used the power of Taste to create these Food and Beverage Communities around the world.

With the help of food and drink, we can strengthen the relationships between people, but also the relationships between people and places. We can even enhance the buying mood of members of a community towards the local products of a place, the tastes of which this community focuses on.

This plan to strengthen the relationships of the members of a community using the tastes of a place, will yield strong economic results, since the closer the members’ relationships are with the community, the more the members will want to travel to this place and the more they will buy of the local products from this place.

Consider, for example, Greeks who live permanently in the United States. Many of them were born there, but they know about their Greek origin and visit often Greece for holidays. Their relationship with the mother country Greece could become much closer through a thematic community of Greek Taste.

We can understand what we could achieve if we created thematic communities for Greek or Spanish or Italian food and drink around the world, with members not only those people originally from Greece, Spain or Italy, but also people who once traveled to one of these countries, tasted the local flavors, loved them and are looking for them again and again. The same concept applies, even if you originate from somewhere else other than Greece, Spain or Italy. We associate our homeland and origins with Taste.

Creating communities based on food and drink is not something new. It has been happening for many decades, even if those who are doing this do not do so consciously. All these communities around the world made up of people of common descent, rely heavily on the common traditional flavors that unite them.

Food and drink automatically create strong emotions that last. If the taste of a food or drink satisfies me, I will never forget the place where I tried it, nor will I forget the person who cooked it for me and served it. If I liked what I tried, many times in the future I will try to taste it again, and if I can’t visit that place again, I’ll look for local products from this place or I will visit restaurants that serve those recipes that touched me in the past.

The power of Taste is invincible. It brings people closer, gives them joy and satisfaction, and also creates new and strong economic relationships around the world.

Countries need to think seriously about creating and put in action a solid plan to create communities around the world based on their local tastes. Immigrant populations can help. The creation of these food and beverage communities could also be supported by local professionals, as they would have direct economic benefits. It is easily doable because the power of Taste is strong. Because Taste creates strong and lasting emotions. Because Taste creates communities – communities with members very closely connected with the places where these local flavors are produced.

Submitted by Maria Athanasopoulou. Maria is the President of Respond on Demand, a company that provides marketing and promotion services to tourism companies, hotels and destinations. Maria also serves as the Board Chair of the World Food Travel Association. She is based in Thessaloniki, Greece.