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Focus December 2018

The victories and defeats of our cuisine

Though loved worldwide, it is under pressure from other Nations and multinational corporate interests.

 

During this past month of November, events associated with the third edition of International Italian Food Week occurred in many countries. This wonderful project was initiated by the Italian Foreign Ministry in concert with the Ministry of Agriculture and Tourism and in particular by Vincenzo De Luca, Director-General for Cultural and Economic Promotion and Innovation. This year too, the Academy was a first-tier partner, its Delegations and Legations contributing for the third time to the success of the initiative “Extraordinary Italian Taste”. This collaboration with Embassies, Consulates and Italian Cultural Institutes was truly impressive and we are proud of having contributed to the dissemination and representation of Italian cuisine abroad. However, amid all this we must note that the enemies of our most iconic products are on the war path again. We had already denounced the threats to our cured meats, cheeses, olive oil and so on: that is, our food heritage.

The danger was apparently averted, but a group of seven countries, led by Brazil and sadly including France, has again presented a statement to the UN regarding the resolution on Foreign Policy and Global Health, which in short requires the introduction of the infamous “traffic light labels” (apparently invented in France) and various taxes for so-called ‘risky foods’, namely those with high fat or salt content. Red light, then, for prosciutto, salame, parmesan and olive oil, allegedly harmful to health. Food multinationals use their lobbies to prioritise protection of laboratory products; the USA has even relaxed regulations on lab-cultured meat from stem cells. With all this talk of Made in Italy, Mediterranean Diet, PDO and PGI recognition, and counterfeit or ‘Italian-sounding’ foods, in the end the world’s governing bodies debate traffic-light labelling because... they care deeply about a healthy populace. The fact is that success (that is, market demand) bothers people.

Our cuisine is loved around the world and we hope that the powers that be will work together to protect our great heritage.

 

Paolo Petroni