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Our daily meals: poison or medication?

“The doctrine of foods is of great ethical and political significance. Food becomes blood, blood becomes heart and brain, the stuff of thoughts and attitude. Human fare is the foundation of human culture and thought. Would you improve a nation? Give it, instead of declamations against sin, better food. Man is what he eats.”
(The Mystery of Sacrifice or Man Is What He Eats, Ludwig Feuerbach, 1862)

When he asserted that “man is what he eats”, the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach had already understood, more than a century and a half earlier, that our daily meals are directly responsible for our health and our well-being. In recent years, overweight and obesity have become a public health problem in western countries. To tackle the problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a guideline entitled Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health: “It is recommended to eat more fruit and vegetables, to replace unsaturated animal fats with unsaturated vegetable fats, reducing the amount and proportion of fat, salt and sugar and daily physical exercise.” According to the WHO, around one third of cardiovascular disease and cancers could be avoided by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

All this might seem too simple: you just need to eat well to be healthy, but… what does it mean to eat well?

CIBO E SALUTE 2Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by news, facts and opinions about the world of eating well and staying in shape, a multimillion-euro business. We are increasingly confused by the countless choices available to us. And in the end, we do our best to wade through the thousands of products, trying to make the best choices with the tools at our disposal. Lots of questions remain, however, and it’s not always easy to understand what is best for our health: will diet products really be good for us? Will the flour used in mass-produced products be so bad for us? What are saturated fats? Can I give my child the latest snack that’s all the rage?

A useful way of looking at good and healthy products is certainly to go back to basics. Try to imagine this scenario: you and your great-grandmother in a modern supermarket. Imagine her surprise when she sees these myriad unknown, maybe even useless, new products, fruit and vegetables of all kinds available all year round, meat and fish in abundance. One idea could be to steer clear of all those modern, mass-produced products and go for those that we think our great-grandmother would have been able to find.

That should make us think: our food is one of the few things over which we can take concrete action to preserve our health and our future. The only way to successfully overcome this tsunami of diverse and confusing information is to educate ourselves, seek out information, read and investigate. Following the Slow Food philosophy is an excellent starting point: eating local and seasonal produce; going to farmers’ markets; always demanding that the food we buy has not been treated with chemicals; eating less but better-quality meat to avoid the antibiotics used in mass production; always reading the label and avoiding foods with incomprehensible ingredients; and limiting our consumption of sugar are just some of the ways recommended by Slow Food to think about our health.

So, where to start? What to eat? Which products to avoid? To help us, three experts will discuss the topic at the Our daily meals conference:

Franco Berrino, a doctor and epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute in Milan. Dr Berrino is one of the foremost experts on the link between food and health, and is a firm advocate of the benefit of a proper diet to avoid cancer. Dr Berrino will give an interesting insight into topical issues, such as eating meat, animal fats and sugar.

Grocery cart filled with nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Kathleen Sykes, is a leading expert on developing policies for aging populations and for environmental sustainability. She is part of the Mayor’s Age-Friendly Taskforce in Washington DC, is a Senior Advisor to the US Environmental Protection Agency and is a member of the Gerontological Society of America. Dr Sykes will give tips on the recommendations in policies to enable the population to grow old “the right way”.

Andrea Pezzana, discussion moderator and director the Department of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition of San Giovanni Antica Sede Hospital in Turin, and lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Turin. Dr Pezzana works with Slow Food, helping to draft the Slow Food philosophy on food and health.

You are what you eat… what will you be?


An Event by
 Città di Torino
 Slow Food
 Regione Piemonte
In collaboration with
With the contribution of
Official Partners
Supporters of the Terra Madre Foundation and Slow Food
With the support of

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto
Slow Food Promozione P.Iva 02220020040
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