Italian Critics Trash McDonald’s Nationalist Food Bid

Categories: Food & Health
Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 11:46 am by dpacheco

In an attempt to improve their image in Italy and foster better relations with that country’s government—and also, perhaps, placate the vocal Slow Food movement—fast-food restauarant chain McDonald’s is adding an item to their menu there: a burger with a nationalist twist.

The imaginatively-named </sarcasm> McItaly gives natives and tourists exactly what I assume corporate executives think they want in home-grown Italian cuisine: a meal sporting the colors of the Italian flag—red, white, and green. Not surprisingly, the multinational corporation is getting some push-back from Italy’s Slow Food movement—most notably from Carlo Petrini, author of the upcoming Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities.

From Reuters:

ROME (Reuters) – Fast food chain McDonald’s has teamed up with the Italian government to cook up a hamburger with a national twist, but the unusual initiative is giving some food lovers cultural indigestion.

The “McItaly,” hawked with the slogan “McDonald’s speaks Italian,” is made entirely of Italian DOP products (Protected Designation of Origin) and the meal’s ingredients make up the colours of the Italian flag — red, white and green.

“We’re out to defend our identity and the ‘Made in Italy’ trademark,” Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia said in a statement, adding that the venture was designed to “promote the taste of Italy,” particularly to young people.

“We want to give an imprint of Italian flavours to our youngsters,” he said.

But the flag-flying burger, which comes with a choice of artichoke spread and Asiago cheese or onion, lettuce and smoked pancetta, has come under heavy criticism by food critics both in Italy and abroad.

Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement that promotes quality food, genuine ingredients and local produce, accused the government of undermining Italian cuisine.

“Globalising a taste does not promote it but rather standardises and homogenises it,” he said in an open letter in an Italian newspaper.

“This isn’t about supporting Italian farmers and products, it’s about making money by working with a multinational that actively takes power away from local producers,” Petrini, who in 1985 failed to stop McDonald’s from opening its first restaurant in Italy, told Reuters.

But Zaia, the agriculture minister, defended McItaly as a healthy option which would use 1,000 tonnes of Italian agricultural products a month, giving a “huge boost to farmers.”

Read the whole article here.

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