Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Launches 'True Italian' Initiative in U.S. to Help Consumers Distinguish Authentic Italian Food Products

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Top American and Italian food and wine authorities will gather in Seattle November 8-9 to deliberate the issues of authenticity and “truth in food”.

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True Italian highlights the unique flavors and unsurpassed quality of authentic Italian food and wine products, protect the reputation of the Italian brand and support the farmers, vintners and artisans who have built Italy’s reputation for excellence.

Top American and Italian food and wine authorities, including a host of nationally-acclaimed, award-winning chefs, will gather in Seattle November 8-9 to deliberate the issues of authenticity and “truth in food”—from examining the recent locavore/globavore debate to exposing the harmful effects of an epidemic of national and global food fraud—as part of the U.S. launch of True Italian, a consumer education initiative of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Buonitalia SpA designed to improve understanding regarding the specific, unique characteristics of authentic Italian products.

The Seattle summit is the first of its kind in the United States and kicks off a national, multi-city effort. It will feature awareness-raising events, such as food sampling and taste testing from premier Italian restaurants and specialty food retailers. These educational events are designed to help consumers—who are increasingly adamant about knowing where their food is coming from and how it is produced—distinguishes authentic Italian foodstuffs from inferior or imposter products, appreciate the role of regional products with cultural and culinary significance, and make wiser, more informed buying decisions.

Consultant, author and James Beard Foundation award-winner Clark Wolf will moderate an impressive culinary think tank comprised of leading chefs, food writers, retailers, producers and restaurateurs in a dialogue that will include “international sustainability” and the role of authentic foods in a culinary culture that increasingly values locally sourced products—balancing the environmental imperative of relying on local, sustainable production with the cultural demand for authentic regional products.

The summit will also consider global counterfeiting and the epidemic of faux Italian food products on the market—as many as 7 out of 10 foods sold in the U.S. as authentic Italian are imposters, according to the Italian Farmers Union—with offenses ranging from Italian “look-alike” or “sound-alike” packaging, misleading product claims and clever substitutions to outright fraud. Often of inferior quality or flavor, these imitation products not only cheapen the Italian brand, they cause significant harm to the Italian economy, agriculture and livelihood of the small producers and family farmers that make up a majority of Italy’s food delivery system.

In addition to Wolf, panelists and participants in the Seattle True Italian Summit include Food & Wine 2008 “Best New Chef in America” Ethan Stowell, executive chef and owner of Anchovies and Olives, How To Cook A Wolf, Staple and Fancy Mercantile, Tavolàta, and author of Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen; James Beard award winner for Best Chef—Northwest, Holly Smith, executive chef and owner of Café Juanita; Jason Stratton, executive chef of Cascina Spinasse and a Food & Wine “10 Best New Chefs for 2010”; Francesco Lupo, food marketing consultant for the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma; Nancy Radke, U.S. director of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano; Bruce Silverman, regional vice president—Pacific Northwest, Whole Foods Market and Adam Stevenson, executive chef of Earth & Ocean—W Hotel.

The True Italian campaign was introduced in North America during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics where the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry hosted a summit of leading international food professionals at Casa Italia, the headquarters of the Italian Olympic team. The Seattle summit will be followed by events in San Francisco and New York City.

True Italian was developed to highlight the unique flavors and unsurpassed quality of authentic Italian food and wine products, protect the reputation of the Italian brand and support the farmers, vintners and artisans who have built Italy’s reputation for excellence. Although targeting all consumers, the True Italian campaign emphasizes the 30+ million Americans who self-identify as food enthusiasts and who tend to be savvier and sophisticated in their selection and consumption of food and wine. Research undertaken by Buonitalia reveals that even these “foodies” often lack the knowledge to recognize authentic Italian products.

Through the efforts of the True Italian campaign, Buonitalia SpA, the Rome-based government agency responsible for promoting, internationalizing and safeguarding Italian agricultural products, aspires to provide support to Italian food and wine producers and help reinforce Italy’s competitive capacities in the global marketplace.

For more information about the True Italian initiative, please contact Karen MacKenzie or Mysty Stewart at MacKenzie Agency Public Relations, (707) 545-3280 or visit the True Italian website, http://www.trueitalianclub.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mysty Stewart
Karen MacKenzie
(707) 545 3280
stewart(at)mackenzieagency(dot)com

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