Giornale online di enogastronomia • Direttore Fabrizio Carrera
Numero 100 del 12/02/2009

EDITORIAL Letter to Obama

12 Febbraio 2009
presidente presidente


An appeal to the new president of the United States: “We would like you to add a note on nutrition to your agenda, and explain to your fellow Americans that they need to eat less but better.”

Letter to Obama

by Fabrizio Carrera

Dear Mr. President,
We have been following you with bated breath for months on TV, via internet, and in the newspapers. Emotions were flying high that last 4th November – it was the middle of the night here in Italy – while watching America, a country which never ceases to surprise us, give you its support to govern your Country.
You have been called to give answers in times of immense difficulty: the identity of the very model of Western life is floundering, the Middle – Eastern time bomb continues to tick, the threat of terrorism is by no means lessened, the energy issue goes unresolved, the future of our environment is strongly at risk, and then over the last few months, as if all of this was not enough, we have seen the collapse of the financial and credit system which rocks even our most intimate feelings of security, our very way of living.
We are writing to you from Europe, Italy, a small region which is known as Sicily; an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, suspended between Africa and Europe, as big as the State of Maryland, where we publish an on-line magazine which talks of food and wine, of the little pleasures in life, of a life-style which makes us feel good, both within and in the company of others. An ambitious objective, you might say,  but by no means impossible.
We write to you because you are now the driving force of the country with the greatest influence in the world over how we lead our lives. Therefore, we would like you to add another note to your agenda – amongst the already many things to do – a note on nutrition regarding the relationship between Americans and food.  We often think about your country which has made its relationship with food one of the most significant paradoxes of our times: a rich and overfed nation in a world where an ever increasing number of people are  dying of malnutrition.
In this letter we are simply asking you to spend a fraction of your time explaining to the Americans that they need to eat less and better; that a correct diet does not necessarily translate into neglecting pleasure and that it will lead to wellbeing. Explain that one’s life-style is the basis for viewing life with more optimism and less greed. Perhaps even address this issue using the same solemn tone of voice that you use to talk to the nation on seemingly more serious issues. 30% of your co-nationals suffer from obesity, eating anything and everything.
There is a waste of resources and energy that no one can allow itself, not even the most powerful country in the world. We are not interested in finding out why you are in favour of GMO, even if we nurture strong doubts and are concerned about biodiversity. We do not like knowing that every food item consumed by an American has travelled an average  – an average, take note – of 1,274 kilometers . too many; neither are we cheered by the knowledge that a good part of the territory of Illinois, the State from which you originate, is used to produce bio-fuels such as ethanol from corn.
However, we are glad to know that you enjoy good food (we gather that among your favorite restaurants in Chicago there is an Italian one and we are proud of that) and we would like to think that the President of the United States of America will do something for a return to the earth which is a fundamental step towards a more livable world. There would be advantages for everybody; both for the USA and its economy and also for Europe, to be sure. And we are asking you Mr. President, because we appreciate your open ambition to chase after a better world.
By using the table around which we sit every day as a starting point, we believe that anything can be achieved. That portion of food which permits us to live, and carry on, has an immense symbolic strength; as do, we feel, your words, gestures and what you will be doing over the next four years in the White House.
It will not take much. It will not be necessary to propose new laws to Congress or cause an upheaval in your already busy agenda. All that is needed is a word during a press conference, a televised message to your people saying that we are what we eat; that sitting around the table should be a personal pleasure as well as for those living with us; that if we eat better and less we can even save; that ours is the society of waste; that eating in front of the television is a bad habit. Asking the President of the United States to speak about food may seem like heresy. But just try, Mr. President. Life is too short to eat badly. And you who is teaching us just how important it is to grasp the moment should not forget it.


(traslated by Deborah Halliday)