It had to happen sooner or later, and in the end to the Made in Italy lovers it will have to go down. Perhaps you are not following the controversy at European level regarding the use of Nutriscores, that is, a label with an indicator that suggests the limits between use and abuse of a given food. And, as happened in the English case, the complaints of the Sacred Inquisition of Italian Food have already started.
First, what are we talking about?
Nutriscore is a system developed by EREN, a French institute, to label foods in a simple to understand way, so that users can know if what they eat is healthy or not. The assessment is made in terms of nutrition science, not on cultural parameters or on the Michelin Guide.
In practice, it is a summary of the so-called food pyramid:
Which is mapped like this:
The definition of portion is quite complicated, and it is perhaps the part that the Nutriscore does not cover.
In and of itself, this is good and good progress, in the sense that people can be pushed to move towards the "green side" of the spectrum.
The problem comes when there is one thing that is the Italian Inquisition of Food, which I believe has the fact that if something is eaten in Italy then it is good, while if you eat abroad it hurts.
Consequently, the fact that olive oil contains 97% fat, such as rapeseed oil, for the Italian Inquisition of Food automatically means that olive oil (which is used in Italy) makes well, while Rapeseed Oil (which is used more in Northern Europe) hurts. The problem is that rapeseed oil contains, in equal quantities of vegetable fats, many more "omega 3", at the base of "good cholesterol". Consequently, rapeseed oil is healthier than olive oil. It does not mean that olive oil hurts: it means that rapeseed oil is nutritionally healthier. It is a chemical fact, so there are no possible objections.
But like any Inquisition, even the Italian Inquisition of Food does not mind nonsense like the real content of foods. He just looks at the sentimental content of the food, and if the Calabrian grandmother was used to frying things already fried in the oil overheated by the two previous fries, then it's good .
In general, that is, it claims to pass the usual message "the Mediterranean diet is an absolute good", forgetting that in Italy the Mediterranean diet has been abandoned for some time, and only vague memories remain. It is now common practice in cities to eat meat every day, which the venerable great-grandparents at the origin of the Mediterranean diet did not do: for them meat existed once a week.
But the Italian Inquisition of Food does not even care about history: the Mediterranean diet is, for them, what the Mediterranean peoples eat, and the Mediterranean peoples are Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy , Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy, Italy, and finally Italy. Are there other countries in the Mediterranean?
Since Italy is the only country (note in capital letters) in the Mediterranean, the Italian Inquisition of Food continues, if something is eaten in Italy (even if it is depleted uranium) then it is a Mediterranean diet, and if it is diet Then Mediterranea is good.
Imagine how outraged they feel when someone arrives (a perfidious Frenchman, however) who questions this dogma, and dares to insinuate that frying something in the overheated oil of the two previous fries is not healthy. And not only that: these heretics also dreamed of writing that Olive Oil is composed almost 95% of fats, instead of a distillate of Santa Urina from Padre Pio (how to doubt from Padre Pio?), Healer of all evil.
And to make matters worse, the cursed devil worshipers added that pasta contains a huge amount of carbohydrates, and therefore should be consumed in dishes smaller than Salvini's, and with "slightly" lower frequencies.
Consequently, the Italian Inquisition of Food does nothing but excommunicate NutriScore, since it propagates heretical theses, contrary to the Holy Scriptures handed down by the Grandmother of the Mulino Bianco.
What's the problem? The problem is this:
Now, you will say: well, foreigners do what they want, so much we remain red Inquisition. The trouble is that:
- Multinational companies that sell in green countries put the label. Same thing for companies that are located in those countries.
- The Italian companies that sell in these countries are required to adopt the label.
- Italian large-scale distribution is (increasingly) in the hands of large chains in northern Europe, when not directly through the supply chain.
The result of all this is that in the end, the label will end up on the shelves. Certainly not in all foods, but the effect is not positive: when someone agrees to be judged, those who do not have the label seem to have escaped the challenge. That is, it seems to have something to hide. So sooner or later even the Italian wall will fall.
The problem is purely ideological: Spain, which is also a robust producer of "Mediterranean" foods and Olive Oil, has not suffered any damage since the adoption of the label, so much so that it has decided to adopt it in mass.
But there is something that scares the Italian agri-food industry: a standard that is not mafia-friendly. Because all the DOP, DOCG, IGP & co standards have a characteristic. And that is that:
- They don't say anything about the content of the food. They say it comes from this place, which was prepared according to the procedure of such, but if I ask you how high the content of a substance X is, or how much I should eat, the local "certifications" do not say it. You can safely sell toxic stuff, and it's simply toxic DOC.
- They can proliferate freely. If your traditionally non-existent product needs a certification, all you have to do is find other accomplices, create the Ostrich Macerated in the Coca Cola of Pescara, and zap, if you do it in Pescara then it has its certification. I don't know how many wines without any traditional consistency have been invented from a healthy plant by as many denominations, and are passed off as "pure Italian tradition" by now.
- They are extensible ad libitum. The Prosecco vine is now grown far beyond the Valdobbiadene area, covering extensions that have never been traditional. But this does not prevent prosecco from having its good certification, simply because it is fashionable in this period. By now the extension of cultivation is touching Padua, and I start to wonder when someone will stop, before starting to have Prosecco di Valdobbiadene di Sicilia.
The problem with nutriscore labels is that they do not depend on the usual mafia system of the boot. If an oil contains 95% fat, limited use will be recommended. Point. It cannot be extended, it cannot be invented. Those who invented "low-fat" cheeses (a contradiction in terms, when it is good you are 27% of hard cheeses, unless you resort to chemistry), will be forced to reckon that even as "low-fat", cheeses are in general a lot of fat.
Now, surely this will piss Mozzarella lovers as "food that as it is white and fresh then makes you lose weight and has little fat because it has only white poetic virgin white". But things are, stoichiometrically speaking, differently.
This is the Nutriscore problem: it risks bringing people back to reality. A reality in which cheeses are all, some more or less, of fatty foods. A reality in which pasta has a little too many carbohydrates and a dish should not go beyond 110g when cooked. A reality in which the consumption of olive oil should not go beyond 20g per day.
A reality in which wine hurts a little in addition to the glass a day, and the Venetians have the same biology as anyone else. A reality in which the fried stuff is not for a cock good for your health, the mixed fried is a food nightmare, the lasagna should be a monthly luxury, or at least twice a week, and the snacks that you give to your children are almost toxic . A stoichiometric truth in which seafood contains too much cholesterol even if they come from Taranto, for example.
And the worst thing you can do to Italians is this: bring them back to reality, after they have spent so much, long, long time thinking that a kilo of pasta every noon is the perfect diet for a family of 3.