We followed the kermesse, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Turin, Italy. This article helps us to understand where food and journalism are going in a moment of great change.
Last week, from February 22nd to 24th, the third International Food Journalism Festival attracted in Turin people and professionals from Italy, Europe and other parts of the world. Many topics were treated walking across various paths: from the professional aspects of the food journalist, that is evolving in specialized profiles such as the “brand journalists”, up to the new frontiers of food promotion, passing through the quality of foods we can eat in the main countries where Italy exports.
The presence of institutions such as Istituto Superiore della Sanità (Health State Institute which provides regulatory checks and controls the production standards), Arma dei Carabinieri with the Nas department (Anti-sophistication units specialized in food frauds), the Ministry of Health, gave some data set about legality. Furthermore were discussed important topics such as the environmental sustainability or the labeling to defend the original products… up to the “food and wine tourism” and the role of the new communicators, bloggers and journalists born with the digital world.
So many arguments were touched that rightly we should be dedicate some articles “on topic”, but, having to make a choice, we were particularly struck by some people and their speeches.
The first was Maria Letizia Gardoni, representative of Coldiretti Giovani (National Federation of Young Farmers). Thanks to her words we knew a wonderful picture of the new young Italian farmers and their love towards the ground. Often they cultivate abandoned fields or family estates. We are talking about people aged 20-25 (we are ready for the millenials) who are starting over again to rewrite the history of Italian agriculture. They are young, with a good education (often graduates), people who understand the importance of the environment and their production is appreciated. For these reasons they often recover abandoned varieties of plants (once not profitable), doing it with respect for the environment. Young farmers have learned from history that water and soil pollution returns to humans in the form of food hazardous for health. They avoid using chemicals and believe in local ancient vegetables, so they work to obtain small (but excellent) productions that are sought after by chefs and restaurants with a sophisticated cuisine. And this is the matter why this market pays a higher price for excellent food.
The second point of interest was concerning the new role of communicators that is changing the way of doing information. In particular, Nicoletta Polliotto and Carlo Fornaro explained the transformation underway, by describing the critical points of a profession that has witnessed the upsetting of old paradigms in favor of the web. The ability to manage the search engines with user friendly information and quality makes the difference. The positive note is given by bloggers, who now face the market with complete profiles: it is no longer necessary only to be journalists, but also experts of search engines, videomakers and more. Nowadays providing quality information is a must, to carry out all these activities with the right timing. Bloggers have arrived in recent years, enriching the new media and changing day by day their approach. This trend will continue towards a multi-channel strategy. In this new deal, food is definitely ahead, thanks to the large number of bloggers active in all the world and covering a huge market. Today, food, tourism, and even “made in Italy” companies collaborate with bloggers and journalists to support and promote their brands.
The last point we would like to focus on is the perception of Italian food abroad. Despite a growing culture about foods, on the EU and US markets there is a high diffusion of fake Italian food. The typical example is the “Italian sounding” food. Inside its packaging, however, there is very little of Italy. If the average Italian consumer knows the PDO productions and the brand protection consortia, there is a lower perception abroad. For this reason, those who think of eating Italian food often buy poor quality products. The steps forward must be made on labeling about the origin of raw materials. It also emerged that authentic food is usually more expensive. Quality and price mainly depends on true ingredients and original products.
Tens of thousands inspections are made every year by Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza and other control Bodies specialized in fraud prevention. This allows Italy to limit illegal business. In 2015, there were seizures for 81 million euros, in 2016 for 36 million. The fake food market produces many damages, at least 20 billion euros per year for the Italian economy, even if a real estimate is impossible.
Last week, all around the Food Journalism Festival, there were activities promoted by the Masters of Taste, astisans specialized in food products typical of Piedmont, one of the richest regions of Italy in terms of food and wines (Barolo red wine, rice and cheeses such as Castelmagno for example). “Good habits & Quality foods” is on the same lenghtwave with the new trends of food and web communication. We are available to promote any initiative that can make stronger quality foods and the way of life usually called Italian Style.
Giorgio Barbero – Chief Editor of Good habits & Qualty foods – lifestyle and food blog hosted by Italian Food Joy and Brian Tonelli – Editor and blogger