Not on the Label

Farmers want it. Consumers are asking for it. But it seems as though Brussels is ignoring their pleas. What are we talking about? It’s a story we’ve told many times, but which still has no happy ending: the story of local food. What exactly is going on?  shopping-1165437_1920

Farming in Europe is going through a major crisis. Farmers who do good work, who produce quality food, are making important demands, as meat producers recently did. They asked Brussels to work on meat labeling, making it obligatory to indicate the origin of meat used in processed products across Europe.

But this request seems to have fallen on deaf ears, even though in this case the farmers have an important ally: consumers, or rather, co-producers. Many recent surveys have all led to the same conclusion, that Europe is seeing the development of a greater sensitivity towards what we eat. For example, a study by the European Commission showed that 90% of European consumers are in favor of origin labeling for meat in processed foods. According to French consumer protection association CLCV, 80% of consumers in the country want to know where their foods have come from. And a survey carried out by Slow Food, which became the basis for the book The European Consumer and Animal Welfare, revealed that the vast majority of its members feel the need for greater clarity in information and greater awareness, which would help consumers be willing to pay more for the meat they buy.

Making more comprehensive labels compulsory could be the solution, because conscious purchases are inevitably based on the information available on a food product, as is the possibility of rewarding a producer’s work by buying their food. In an ideal world, we’d like to know not only the origin of the meat we eat, but also other important information, for example about the breed and its characteristics, the animals’ diet, their welfare… And yet, if we buy a package of ravioli in a French supermarket, we can’t find even the most basic of information: Where did the meat in the filling come from? From France or from Romania? Not only is this not possible at the moment, but it doesn’t even seem to be a future possibility in either Paris or Brussels, because clearly there is a lack of political will to make laws in this area. Why? If we don’t want to safeguard the interests of small-scale producers or take consumers’ requests seriously, then who is benefitting from all this?

As usual, big business and the free market, which sees huge quantities of goods moved from one country to another, ruining local producers as a result, and a lack of information imposed on everyone. As Carlo Petrini said in a recent interview: “Europe has clear responsibilities. The problem is not raising the barriers, but defending our farming communities so they are not working at a disadvantage. Farming can no longer be violated.”

 

Silvia Ceriani

 

Sources

Agence Bretagne Press

La Stampa

 

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