Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Good, Clean and Fair

"Higher education can be an exacting, cruel enterprise. It can demand a mind-bending consideration of quantum physics, an eye-glazing trek through archaic literature, a soul-chilling plunge into the darkest recesses of history.

Or it can present wine, cheese and the palate-tickling challenge of figuring out why prosciutto is so delectable and how best to describe its salty bliss. The University of Gastronomic Sciences stands ready -- almost -- to burden students with that assignment."

This is where I spent the past few days. A very interesting place, with a novel, hands-on approach to education. The curriculum includes agricultural sciences, food sciences and appreciation of food. This is the only place I have seen where gastronomy is given its true value, as a potential contributor to rural development. The reasoning is simple: if the public (the co-consumers as they are called in Slow Food parlance) starts demanding a "good" product, a product that is exceptional and that carries the specificity of locally made, artisanal production, then the small producers can enter a parallel market, a gastronomic market. Further conditions are that this production must be clean (environmentally) and fair. Good, Clean and Fair: a pretty good starting point for any agricultural and food policy.

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