Food education - Nutrition

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Food education

Food models and economic and socio-demographic changes Influence of television and new media History of food consumption in Italy Report on food consumption by ISMEA Food behaviors: lifestyles and incorrect habits Education, education and food self-education Food education at school as a global educational project
  • Food models and economic and socio-demographic changes
  • Influence of television and new media
  • History of food consumption in Italy
  • ISMEA food consumption report
  • Eating behaviors: lifestyles and incorrect habits
  • Food education, education and self-education
  • Food education at school as a global educational project

Food models and economic and socio-demographic changes

Throughout its history, man has not been able to follow a single food model because he has had to act, from time to time, in a different way, based on the need to deal with finding food, using the least expensive and at the same time most productive methods. . This means that the diet varied, and continues to vary, depending on the place of allocation and therefore on the wealth of the area. An unproductive environment (due to climate, arid soil, scarcity of animals and vegetation) has always been immediately discarded.

Currently, the Italian food model is the result of contaminated or enriched regional traditions and cultures, it depends on the points of view, choices and guidelines imposed by the world food industry.

Recently, we have been witnessing a change in the laws of the market. Beyond the increasingly drastic reduction of stores or food shops and as opposed to the increasing invasion of shopping malls full of products, what is changing are the purchasing dynamics. Nowadays in large retailers there is not only the law of supply and demand but also that of supply and demand, born thanks to the boom in advertising persuasion. We can arrive at the paradox that people do not buy and consume what they actually want and need, but what the internal market balances propose. If we want to take a photograph of today's society we can see some socio-demographic aspects that have characterized and continue to influence certain food choices and habits. The lifestyle is very tied to the working rhythms (continuous hours or vice versa fragmentation of working time, shifts) that push to eat meals outside the home (company and school canteens, fast food, bars, cafeterias, pizzerias). The role of women, compared to the pre-industrial era, has changed: no longer or not just a housewife, but also a prepared and informed figure on the production, sale and purchase of food products. It follows a downsizing of the role of home cooking, with a reduction in the time dedicated to meals and conviviality and, on the other hand, a growth in collective and mass catering facilities where industrial quality standards very often exist, with the result of an overall homologation of taste. The percentage of people who eat lunch in restaurants or taverns and bars has grown much more in the Center-North (especially in the north-west area of ​​the country) and less in the South, even if there is a trend in the South increasing. The rush to time brings the spread of quick lunch breaks, consumed near the workplace. According to the ISMEA-ACNielsen survey, preferences of consumption outside the home are particularly oriented for breakfast (at the bar), business lunch (bars, Italian restaurants, company and school canteens) and dinner, while they have a less preferential convivial lunches and afternoon breaks. Furthermore, the progressive aging of the Italian population will determine an orientation towards diets linked to the health needs of the older population and the attitude towards safer and healthier foods. This implies the centrality of scientific discoveries made (or potential) in this direction, such as those for producing customized products (novel food), light (light) and with therapeutic functions. Another change is that concerning the composition of families. According to a multi-purpose survey, entitled Families and social subjects (ISTAT, 2003), in Italy families tend to have a mononuclear structure (singles in 1995 represented about 21% of nuclei, in 2003 they reached the threshold of 26% ). These trends resulted, in a differentiated way in the different areas of the country, in a change in eating habits, as the strong presence of singles and the spread of a new family model (couples without children, unmarried, single-parents and reconstituted) has favored the greater consumption of food away from home, pre-cooked and single-dose foods. The increase in immigration also involves changes in food culture. In fact, Italy has gradually undergone a trend reversal in the last ten years, transforming itself from a country with high flows of emigration into an immigration country. Furthermore, a structural change in the immigrant population was detected, as requests for residence permits for family joining increased. This leads to a greater presence of young foreign women, who have contributed to the spread of a diversified diet. This phenomenon is significantly affecting our eating habits, causing the introduction of foods that were not part of our table. It follows the spread of alternative behaviors to the typical Italian one, which stimulate an increasingly differentiated demand oriented towards extra-national kitchens. This has led to an increase, especially among the new generations, in the consumption of food such as sushi, Argentine steak, hot dogs, ketchup, Mexican chili, oriental specialties and other typical dishes of the Mediterranean basin such as kebab, couscous, Arabic bread, Iberian jamon ham. In terms of new technologies this increases the importance of food storage and packaging techniques.

Another relevant phenomenon is that of the emergence of a consumer who is more aware and more attentive to quality. This factor is on the one hand closely linked to the investment in human capital and the level of education, on the other hand to the occurrence in our country, in particular in the last twenty years, of a series of scandals or alarms (methanol wine, BSE, dioxin chicken, avian flu) which have caused a greater sensitivity of the consumer to food risks, making him more attentive to the different forms of information and labeling. This has led to the affirmation of higher quality standards and the traceability of food (a procedure that allows you to reconstruct the main stages of the supply chain from the beginning and throughout the production process to trace any irregularities or fraud, in relation to regulations control on food safety). The economic conditions of the family also determine the choice of food. Again, ISTAT points out that under the pressure of inflation, in particular after the entry of the euro, and the resulting reduced purchasing power, more and more lower-priced products are being chosen. In our country, however, alongside the presence of families living below the poverty line, there are also situations of evident ease. In this second case, the buyer tends to look for very high quality goods, which causes considerable pressure on the production sectors, but also important challenges in terms of technological progress. To conclude, therefore, the consumption behavior of food products is mainly oriented on two factors: quality and price. Another element that has contributed to changing the eating habits of Italians is the pursuit of the lean and perfect body, heralded on the covers of newspapers and in many advertisements. These are new misleading aesthetic canons and with deleterious effects on the mental and physical health especially of the youngest.

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