(ANSA) – Pollenzo (Cuneo), May 7 – Some say eating is a political act, for behind every plate of food is a series of choices made in fields and on boats, in schoolrooms and by governments. This at least is the guiding tenet of the Slow Food movement and of its founder and president, Carlo Petrini, 63.
Petrini is a gastronomer, journalist, writer, and, as of 2004, founder of the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Legally recognized by the Italian government, it is the first institution of higher learning dedicated to international gastronomical and dietary culture. ‘Food should be good, clean, and just,’ Petrini, who was featured on Time magazine’s Heroes of Our Times list in 2004, told ANSA. ‘This means it should be produced and consumed in a way that does not destroy the environment and that provides fair compensation to all those who work along the chain of production. Above all, it should be available to everyone. It’s a universal human right. That is the principle that we hold most dear’.
The idea behind his school is to educate the gastronomers of the future: people who believe in sustainable agriculture, maintaining biodiversity and food sovereignty, and discouraging genetic manipulation.
‘A gastronomer is a person who engages in the production, processing and sale of food from a political, 360-degree vision,’ Petrini explained. ‘It’s a complex and multidisciplinary field. It includes zootechnology, biology, environmentalism, history, anthropology, and more’.
The students, 50% of whom are Italian and the rest are from 64 countries all over the world, receive an education that is both humanistic and scientific, based on sensory training and direct observation all over the five continents. So far, 1000 men and women have trained here. Of these, 74% found work within six months of graduation, and another 18% went on to further specialization. An incredibly high success rate, in a world of high unemployment and in which the global financial crisis continues to batter national economies.
Slow Food was born as a battle cry against fast food and all it represents: world domination through mass marketing, mass production, mass farming, and mass flavors, all of which lead to the breakdown of dignity, tradition, respect for nature and animals, and, as has been amply demonstrated, of the human body itself. What does Prof. Petrini, winner of Italy’s 2010 National Peace Prize, hope for the gastronomers that issue from his school? ‘That they will be able to change reality,’ he said simply.
‘We must learn how to reduce our environmental impact. It is the number one problem we face right now, on a global scale’.
ANSA IPTC – ALR – Arte, cultura, intrattenimento
by Stefania Fumo