Italy’s higher food prices are pushing Italians to cut back on their favorite dishes and live on a tighter budget. The leaner budget omits dining al fresco, cafes, meat and their favorite “go to fare”, take-out pizza.
Fresh food prices, including meat, fish, vegetables and fruit have persistently risen in the past five years pressing Italians to eat more refined pasta and bread, omitting the healthy items that have highlighted the Mediterranean diet for centuries. The Mediterranean diet includes:
- healthy fats (olives and fish)
- plenty of raw fruits and vegetables
- legumes and nuts
Italians have been in this situation before and no doubt, the population will persist on how to “make do.”
According to the Global Times, a study from Just Eat, revealed nearly 5 million Italians chose take-out or food delivered in 2012. Habits are changing. Food consumption in Italy is dropping, but food options are not healthy choices.
Bakeries have been slowly going out of business because customers now make their bread at home. While a loaf of bread may add up to five euro at the store, baking at home cost less than one euro. Many Italians are unemployed so stretching the euro is necessary. While many have strayed from home cooking in the past decade, the new generation is finding it is less expensive. According to Bernardino Bartocci, president of the Italian Association for Small and Medium Artisan Businesses, local bakeries can’t compete with supermarkets, therefore bakeries within surrounding areas of Rome have seen a 10 percent drop in business.
Life expectancy in Italy remains higher than their neighboring countries, although they earn less and smoke more. Almost 24 percent of young Italians are out of work or not getting some kind of education, according to data reported by ISTAT, a government report showing statistics on food assistance, employment and poverty indicators. Over half of the younger population that have graduated are without work with youth unemployment at an all time high forty percent. Italians know about life challenges and can persist through hard times. The Mediterranean diet evolved from diversity in climate and culture centuries ago and will continue to find its way back into the hearts and stomachs of struggling Italians. Food is important, but their spirited philosophy on love, family and life is what maintains their longevity.
“Italian consumers change habits due to economic crisis”;Global Times
“Healthy Italian diet suffers as economic crisis bites”; BBC News Europe
“Millions of poverty-stricken Italians unable to afford heat and meat amid economic crisis”; RT