Italy and the 2015 Expo

Italy, the country of sustainable food?

An Italian primacy

Which moment of the day an Italian people is looking forward to spend? Obviously, the moment to eat around a table! To sit comfortably for tasting a good home-made meal is the main prerogative of the major part of Italian people. The amazing gastronomic wealth in Italy with all its regional particularities embody the fact that food traditions are a central part of Italian culture and represent of which they are proud of. Have you ever tried to sit around a table with a group of Italian people from different regions? Well, one of the main talk will surely regard the description of culinary delights from their region of origin, each one claiming for the best dish, the most authentic and delightful.

Italy can indeed boast that it owns an exceptional culinary wealth, well often underestimated by its inhabitants, maybe because it is such inherent to their culture that it has become considered as a normal fact. This primacy is the “well-eating”. Hopefully, foreign people regularly remind them that it is a luxury! All Italian people have been used since their childhood to recognize and appreciate the good cooking, the true one, the one prepared with regional products, even sometimes with products cultivated in their garden. Many Italian people have a backyard veggie garden, or a plot on their balcony where they can at least make grow some aromatic plants, in order to give this little italian touch to their famous sauces. In every big place of each italian city, you will find a food market where the local farmer sell their products, focusing on quality, the freshness and the natural. Paticularly in the south, it is really rare that an Italian prefer the supermarket to buy vegetables and fruit than the market. Here are some reasons why Italy is the perfect country to host an exposition which have for main theme the feed.

Food : the fruit of people culture

magasin fruits (2)

Italian food culture has its origins from a deeply rooted agricultural tradition which has been facilitated by a mediterranean climate and a fertile soil which enable fruits and vegetables growth. The “food biodiversity” is actually one of the main italian treasure, and as such, must be preserved and strenghten. As Laura Boldrini – an italian politician woman from the left party ecology and liberty (SEL) and a member of the deputy chamber since 2013 – claimed, Italy is an amazing exemple of country where food is a crucial part of people culture, the expression of the society, the tradition and the mentality of its inhabitants.

The sensitiveness of food quality is particularly strong. The attachment to the mediterranean diet, to the purchase of organic products and to the consumption of fresh product and at “zero kilometer” (local products) are expanding phenomenons, which reflect a new vision of feeding and a trend to stand for the agrifood wealth.

That is why Italy choose this theme for the universal exposition, which thus confers in it a primary role in the promotion of agriculture and sustainable food.

For Italy, organizing the Universal Expo on this theme is thus a privilege but also a huge opportunity to confirm its position in favour of a more sustainable agriculture, which respects both the environment and the quality of products.

 

The fact that Italian people bring a particular attention to “eating well” and want to know the origin of the food they eat, explains that fast food chains did not manage to gain real success in Italy[1].

An « eco-friendly mentality »

The Italian food production represents €130 bn/year which make it the second sector just after the manufacturing sector[2]. Italian food products are increasingly being demanded abroad as the constant rise of wine, oil, pasta’s exportation demonstrates it. Italy is the first country regarding the number of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and the number of traditional specialties conferred by the European Union[3].

Italy is at the 7th global rank, behind Australia, Argentina, the United States, Brazil, Spain, and China in terms of area dedicated to organic plants with more thant 1 billion of hectares, and at the second european rank behind the Spain. It is also the first country for its number of farmers and producers specialized in organic production. Particularly, it is the first global producer of organic vegetables (area of 23 407 hectares, eight times morte than the Spanish’s one), of cereals (with around 184 111 hectares), citrus fruits (21 940 hectares), vineyards (52 812 hectares, three times more than in France) and olives (more than 141 568 hectares). Despite  the crisis, the consumption of organic products is still increasing, a raise of 6.1 % during the first semester 2012, when the consumption of non organic product has decreased of 3% on the same period. The most successful organic products are vegetables and fruits, then honey and ham, eggs, olive oil, and fruit juice, biscuit and meat [4].

The expanding initiatives of agrifood business like the agritourism, reflect the Italian way to perform in a sustainable economy.  The attraction of Italian people toward this kind of business can be explained by its agricultural heritage, which from the north to the south  has always been a key sector of the national economy.

So, who better than Italy can host the Universal Exposition on this theme and promote a reflection on “sustainable food”? Who better than this country can stand up for its gastronomic tradition, and for the crucial role of the “earth” as food supplier in the future?

[1] En 2012, il y avait 450 Mc Donalds en Italie, contre 1 200 en France (Source : Mac Donald).

[2] Président de la CIA (Confederazione italiana agricoltori), Giuseppe Politi, à l’occasion du lancement de la campagne pour l’Expo 2015

[3] Données ISTAT.

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