I acquired a taste for good Italian food at a young age. Living next door to a three generation Italian family introduced us to unsurpassed cuisine. Straight off the boat, Grandma’s ravioli was made from scratch. The dough was light and creamy, the filling laced with ricotta and the fresh homemade sauce was one that had simmered for days. At Christmas we joined them for course after course of antipasto, spaghetti and endless desserts including fresh cannoli, spumoni, tortoni and a huge platter of homemade mouthwatering Italian cookies.
Many years passed until I happened to meet a young Italian with an organic food company. His mission was to network with other organic producers to preserve the tradition of artisan organic food. In my later life, Italian food was mostly pizza, an occasional spinach lasagna and fettucini alfredo happily topped with asparagus. But my newly acquainted Italian friend confirmed what I feared to be true. Italians do not eat Alfredo. Pasta in creme sauce is a dish for invalids that No real Italian would ever touch. Nothing but pasta with a long time simmering tomato sauce could ever be considered real Italian food. And with that, my attention was pointed towards the real thing – Artisan organic Italian! Olive oil, all kinds of olives, tapenade, caponata, capers, Sicilian fruit conserves, candied fruits and more. Italian artisan organics emphasizes the real thing – 100 percent pure and simple.
Organic Plant-based Mediterranean Diet
The good news is that you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying Italian food. The stereotyped image of the overweight Italian has now been replaced by a health-conscious image created by the esteemed Mediterranean diet. First, dispel the myths that a big plate of pasta is the key to the diet’s success, as most Italians consider pasta to be a side dish. Stick with organic fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains with emphasis on freshly tossed salads, antipasto and sides of fresh vegetables.
Experts also explain that although food is a major factor in the diet’s success, lifestyle is also an important component. Think about it. When Italians sit down for a meal, they do it in a relaxed, leisurely manner taking ample time to savor and digest the traditional Italian fare. Add a good walk once the food is digested and voila you have the recipe for the diet’s success!
And the well-researched health benefits of choosing low fat, high fiber and plant-based include prevention of heart disease and stroke, increased agility, reduced risk of dementia, improved cholesterol levels, reduced blood sugar levels, increased longevity and more.
Watch For the Made in Italy Label
Organic shoppers are in luck as many organic and natural food stores including mainstream groceries now feature a wide range of certified organic food and pasta with packaging happily declaring “Made In Italy.” Certified organic fusilli, penne, linguini, capellini, angel hair, manicotti and lasagna, often hand rolled and hand cut, adorn the shelves with pride.
But with glyphosate in the public eye conscious organic consumers may be looking for products tested and labeled Glyphosate Residue Free. According to GMO watchdogs, Italians have actually been ‘up in arms’ about glyphosate in their pasta for sometime. The scoop is that after a 2016 Italian ban on the use of glyphosate (used as a desiccant to dry wheat and other crops prior to harvest), Italians began to avoid pasta made with glyphosate-laden Canadian wheat. Citing Italian concerns about food-safety standards, Italy now requires country-of-origin labeling on all wheat and rice products. As a result, Canadian wheat exports to Italy have dwindled. Wondering if the so-called “safe levels” are really safe, consumers may also wish to avoid U.S. glyphosate laden crops since the herbicide is used to desiccate wheat, oats and other grains including peas, chick peas, beans, lentils sugar cane and more.
Choosing certified organic is the safe and healthy way to protect your family’s health and the future of the planet. Your family can enjoy all of their favorite Made in Italy and Italian food dishes made from scratch from certified organic ingredients. Enjoy the recipe below for a traditional Italian spread often served with a large Italian meal.
Black Olive Tapenade
- 1 1/2 cups pitted organic brine-cured black olives
- 3 tablespoons organic capers rinsed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped organic parsley
- 3 cloves organic garlic (raw or roasted)
- 3 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- Real salt and freshly ground organic black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup certified organic Italian olive oil
In a food processor, combine olives, capers, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pulse 2 to 3 times until coarsely chopped.
Drizzle in olive oil and blend a few more times to form a chunky paste, scraping down the sides if needed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Do not chill. Serve at room temperature as a spread on crackers or grilled Italian baguette.
Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.