Watch what you eat

A food chain to die for

As a transplant in Italy from the cold climate of Massachusetts, when I moved here one of the things I admired most about this country was the abondance of fresh fruit and vegetables. It all seemed fresher, riper, greener, and just plain better than what I was used to eating. It seemed that fresh and delicious produce was available on every corner, in every frutteria, supermarket, and open air market.

Sadly, just as all that glitters isn't gold, not all pomodori are created equally. In fact, believe it or not, some are grown directly on top of fields that are used as illegal dumping grounds for hazardous waste. In the 42 townships between Naples and Caserta known as Land of Fires, the Camorra (Neapolitan Mafia) illegally dumps and incinerates hazardous waste which then seeps into the earth and irrigation systems. The death rates from cancer among the 1.5 million inhabitants of this area are staggering. Yes, if you take a ride through the area, you will see that crops are still being harvested, and those crops are landing on someone's dinner table. Sure, Italy has a law that all produce must have its place of origin clearly marked – but if the camorra can manage to dump and burn all this trash right under the eyes and noses of the police and politicians, don't you think they can find a way to pull a bait and switch on the produce, selling it as if it were from the "greener" Northern pastures of Treviso or Bergamo?

It's all quite depressing if you ask me. We are what we eat, and feeding a family is becoming like a game of Russian roulette. A recent visit to the Campagnia Amica Famer's market by Rome's Circus Maximus has given me new hope. Every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 6:00, local farmers from the Lazio Region sell their own organic fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, legumes, bread, honey, and much much more. Each vendor has detailed information about their products and they even organize excursions to their farms for schools or any other interested groups. Prices are fair and the quality is overall exceptional.

For more information, visit Mercato Circo Massimo

Published on February 10th, 2014
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