The Myth of Good Italian Food recounts a two-year investigation into the Italian food system, debunking the common belief that ‘Italians eat better’ with a story of homogenization and globalization common to agro-industrial food production worldwide. First published in 2006 in Italian, the best-seller has been revised and translated into English, published in e-book format, with a preface from Slow Food’s president Carlo Petrini.
Too often, and almost everywhere, food is insidious, dangerous and carries a long list of problems that are repeated worldwide: pesticides, mercury, bird flu, E-coli 0157 and so on. What the author Paolo Conti describes, however, is a kind of war. A fight in Italy as well as the rest of Europe and the world, between technofood and ecofood: food produced with the indiscriminate use of technology and ruling over nature as opposed to production in harmony with the Earth and its resources.
Regarding this argument, Conti writes: «The era that we live in is dominated by technology. By using a range of techniques, we believe that we can rule over nature. Food is no exception. There is no establishment in the Western World that seriously opposes the indiscriminate use of technology in the preparation and processing of food. Technofood is now the norm in supermarkets. Even in Italy, where a less elaborate, more natural diet has been the preference for decades. Ecofood, the combination of less technological food alternatives that are more sustainable on a long-term basis, does exist: it offers a universe of alternatives and represents a practical answer to the problem, in many ways it is the better, more economically viable solution. But it is losing the battle. Even in Europe, where precautionary principles should force us to be more careful. Even in Italy, where we still believe in eating and exporting good, wholesome and genuine food. Many Italian food companies use “all-natural” as their primary selling point. The words “nature”, “field”, and “real flavors” stand out on the packages, but the aroma and flavor we get when we open the box seldom belongs to the food contained within it. Artificial flavors are now customary in many products: they deceive our senses by convincing our brains that we smell and taste things that no longer exist. Food has changed. Food companies use very few raw materials and transform them to increase their profits, while leading us to believe that food is the same as it once was».
The solutions aren’t simple, but they are possible. The first key to overcoming technofood and restoring a natural balance is knowledge: a necessity of life, to continue to enhance our collective consciousness and to ensure that we eat a better future.
Click here to purchase the The Myth of Good Italian Food e-book.
5% of sales revenue will be donated to Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity
Click here to read an extract from the preface by Slow Food president Carlo Petrini.