Che Cosa È Buon Qualità? (What is Good Quality?)

Nicole B. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Last week marked my second month in Italy and I’ve discovered one of the most charming aspects of this country. I’ve fallen in love with how much Italians care about the quality of their food and where it comes from. I’ve noticed that on food labels and nutrition charts, they have the amount in grams and percentage of each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and how many and which vitamins and molecules are in the product. This level of specificity is very rare in the United States.

And I love the phenomenon of “biological food”. In Italy, this means food that has not been genetically modified and has been made without pesticides. In addition to using natural fertilizers and processes, organic farming means banning the use of antibiotics and hormones for the animals that they raise for meat. Dyes, preservatives, synthetic additives and other preservation procedures are also banned for prepackaged organic foods. And to make sure these products are what they say they are, there are organic certification rules they must follow.These biological foods are both healthy for your body and the environment.

However, it comes at a cost. Biological food is also more expensive than its normal counterparts. Sometimes, it costs twice as much. But Italians are willing to pay at least 15% more for an organic product. And I know my host dad definitely thinks it is worth it. He has told me that biological food is worth it at its price for the health benefits, quality and taste of the product itself. And I can confirm that biological olive oil is so much more richer (and healthier) than any I’ve ever had.

Another aspect of quality food in Italy is how much Italians care about knowing where their food and products come from. One night at dinner, my host family and I were talking about fish (weird I know) and they asked me where the fish that I eat comes from. I was flabbergasted. I had absolutely no idea. My host dad said it is actually the law in Italy to specify where a product comes from. It is amusing when my host mom tells me that she bought kiwis from South Africa and brie cheese from France.

The experience I’ve had with food here and the relationship and care Italians have with their food is amazing. I am going to bring these sentiments home with me to the United States to share with my family.

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