My colleagues here at Spot-On have recently been concerned with local food and health care. With a creativity that seems native to the rolling Italian countryside, the country I call home has been preoccupied lately with localizing hospital food.
In a place that has already flexed lobbying muscles when it comes to eats — the Nutella lobby and the drive to make the Mediterranean diet UNESCO protected are two recent examples — even what you partake of in hospitals is a big deal.
So those recovering on the state-funded health care system, far from perfect but functional, will now be treated to local specialties courtesy of a supplier’s agreement with Slow Food.
It’s a neat circle for founder Carlo Petrini, who started the Slow Food movement as a counterpoint to the arrival of McDonald’s in the 1970s — and whose own beliefs have now been institutionalized.
I suspect the fact that half of all 240 million yearly hospital meals — typically broth and soggy pasta — were being tossed was a major factor.
Sure, that’s a lot of money wasted. But while wasting money is bad, throwing out food in Italy is impardonable.
The project is more ambitious than just cutting costs with locally-sourced ingredients: instead of aides dispatching trays, patients not confined to bed rest will eat together in a convivial setting.
For starters, 15 hospitals will experiment with Slow Food style and after six months the results will be evaluated for expansion plans.
Health Minister Livia Turco makes no bones about the importance of the project, telling daily Il Giornale: “Sometimes it’s the little things that give more dignity to life, especially in a hospital. Even the best structures need to be permeated with a sense of human warmth.”