A comment on Marco Cordero’s presentation

Food is sociality, sharing, communication, but also knowledge, support, connection with the religion it belongs to, it is pleasure, hope, trust and finally acceptance and growth. These are the words Marco used at the end of his lecture held via Zoom on Thursday 4 April 2024 to describe food.

A lecture full of insights and analysis into the history of food and the importance it has assumed, or rather has always had, for the individual. Food, as we could immediately see, is not only our primary source of sustenance, i.e. it is not ‘only’ a need and a right, but it is much more.

In the centuries that saw the birth and progress of human life in small steps, food was not an easy item to acquire, also due to the fact that there were no tools or techniques to process and transform it, such as fire. The only sources of sustenance were raw meat obtained from hunting trips and berries or herbs gathered from the ground.

So it is clear that from the moment that one can with difficulty and rarely find and obtain something that is not always present, this something acquires value and meaning for man, so much so that it becomes a symbol. . Perhaps the idea or perception of the divine emerged when man experienced hunger or death. Because the more traumatic an event was, the more it instilled such an emotion that the only way to exorcise it was to transform it into something other than itself, something powerful and with divine characteristics.

In the first century A.D. under the Roman Empire, a Latin philosopher, playwright and poet Lucius Anneus Seneca wrote that our organism transforms what we ingest into energy and blood. That is, food from something external to us and completely different comes into contact with our body and changes its characteristics making it similar as our organism.

The saying ‘we are what we eat’ really has meaning with Seneca.

Today, with studies, analyses and experiments behind us, we know that Seneca was not too far off the mark.So much so that, in some realities, there is a return to the ancient method, where, the only medicine, worthy of the name, was food. . However, why is there almost a need for ‘a return to the origins’?

Let us consider above all the moment from the end of the 20th century to the present day. In this century, there has been a shift from small or medium-sized industry to multinational corporations that have intrinsically and culturally transformed food.

As Motta argues in Images and Symbols of Food in Painting, we have preferred the acquisition of convenience to the quality of a food product. We have for a while preferred canned or packaged or frozen food over food that requires ‘lengthy’ preparation. But clearly, this has led to a regressive loss of health, across the board, which, in turn, has stimulated, many, to a new awareness. The health of our organism and our mind requires, indeed, a reconnection with nature, with raw materials and with products, which are processed and transformed as little as possible.

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