When Oscar Farinetti said that “Italian wheat is not of high quality”. And he added: “Canadian wheat, for example, is qualitatively superior”

We present some extracts from Farinetti’s thought. The truth is that the internet is unforgiving and reminds you of what you did and said

But how many have they said about Italian wheat and Italian pasta? Rereading the words spoken over the course of these last few years one cannot help but smile bitterly. Yesterday we revisited a statement by Paolo Barilla, protagonist of one of the best-known pasta producing companies in the world; today we offer our readers some statements by Oscar Farinetti (photo above taken from Cronache di gusto), protagonist of Eataly, an award-winning entrepreneur who is considered one of the most important ‘ambassadors’ of Made in Italy food on the international scene. Farinetti often spoke about wheat, first saying some things, then saying others. Unlike what happened in the years before the Internet, when the words of the past disappeared, with the internet this is no longer the case and all it takes is a bit of good will to understand who the characters actually are through the words they uttered in the past and, in general, through their past. Here are some passages of Farinetti’s thoughts on wheat:

Words words words. This is how Canadian glyphosate wheat entered our lives

“Italian wheat? It’s not high quality. Canadian wheat, for example, is qualitatively superior.” And again: “To make high-quality pasta and to obtain high-level semolina you need characteristics of proteins, gluten and ash in durum wheat which unfortunately are very difficult to obtain in Italy. One reason is climatic: we are not a country particularly suited to producing wheat, but we are suited to producing vegetables and fruit of the highest level. And, what’s more, we are small, our arable land is rubbish compared to that of other countries in the world” (here you will find an article with a video interview with Farinetti). Think about it: Sicily, as a friend of ours with whom we had a pleasant chat reminded us yesterday, was the granary of Ancient Rome and we Sicilians are not suited to producing wheat… Farinetti, a few years ago, had , how to say?, a quantitative vision of wheat: “Our arable land is rubbish compared to that of other countries in the world”. A few years ago he celebrated the large expanses of land cultivated with wheat: and he mentioned Canada. Quantity and quality: as already mentioned, he said that Canadian wheat is of superior quality to Italian wheat. It’s a shame that beyond certain latitudes wheat should not be cultivated, because the climate does not allow it to ripen naturally. And in fact in the cold and humid areas of Canada the wheat – hard and soft – is artificially matured with the use of glyphosate in pre-harvest: hence the presence of glyphosate residues in Canadian wheat, both hard and soft. Didn’t Farinetti know all this?

Farinetti: “Italy does not have a bread culture”. But do we realize it?

Farinetti, a few years ago, tried his hand at a lesson on bread. “We produce little soft wheat – said Farinetti – because we don’t have a bread culture, Italy doesn’t have its own bread culture, other European countries, like France, especially Central Europe, are much better at it. We, on the other hand, are pasta and pizza lovers, so we need a lot of soft wheat to make pizza and bread while we produce a good quantity of durum wheat which in some years could even be enough for us but on average 25-30% it should be imported.” Where did Farinetti get this information? To begin with, the durum wheat produced in Italy, net of the vagaries of the climate, would be more than sufficient to produce the pasta consumed in Italy. The problem is that pasta industries export a good part of their pasta production abroad: and it is precisely for this reason that they purchase foreign durum wheat, in some cases at a price equal to or slightly higher than the price of Italian durum wheat ( read Canadian durum wheat); in other cases they purchase it at prices lower than the price of Italian durum wheat (read Ukrainian durum wheat version 2023). Again: how can Farinetti say that in Italy there is no cutting of bread? We understand that in Northern Italy, in addition to polenta, bread was and is also eaten. As for the culture of bread, well, we can reassure Farinetti that in the South and in Sicily bread has a long tradition behind it: bread made with soft wheat and, above all, with durum wheat. It is enough to remember the bread of Matera, the bread of Altamura, the black bread of Castelvetrano and so on, continuing with the traditions of many centers in Southern Italy. As for soft wheat, Farinetti should know that less and less of it is grown in Italy because we are literally invaded by Canadian soft wheat, the Manitoba variety, and, since last year, also by soft wheat from other countries in the world, especially Ukrainian soft wheat.

After many words here and there Farinetti discovers the ancient grains of Sicily

Further statements from Farinetti: “In recent years, Italy has eliminated many hectares of soft wheat and corn cultivation, because they yield little. The world price is so low that not even the farmer could pay. In my opinion, the production of these varieties must be resumed, especially soft wheat in Italy, but it must be done in an absolutely identifying manner. The Italian mission is to plant and sow the ancient cultivars of the highest quality, which have the lowest yield, and certainly in an organic regime. Although, by the way, it must be said that implementing an organic regime on wheat is very complicated.” This is also a slightly too hasty statement: who told Farinetti that growing organic wheat is complicated? We know many farmers in Sicily who grow organic wheat, but they have never told us that cultivation is complicated. They told us, yes, that the production is lower than the production obtained with conventionally grown wheat. A few years after the celebration of Canadian wheat being better than Italian wheat, Farinetti changes his mind: “The future of our country is to increase production, especially of soft wheat but also of durum wheat where we are already very good, we make a lot of it but more can be done moreover. In particular, specializing on these ancient cultivars, very good, tasty, rich in proteins and gluten, low in ash, which will help us make phenomenal pasta, bread and pizza. In the coming years we must dedicate ourselves above all to this.” In short, Farinetti also discovered ancient Sicilian grains. And maybe he will come to grow them in Sicily.

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