Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Make Your Spaghetti “Untouchable”: Anti-Mafia Pasta

I was grocery shopping recently and found packages of anti-mafia pasta. In Italy, not only can you choose organic food for your health and fair-trade food for the good of 3rd-world farmers but you can also choose food that fights the mob.
Italy has a recent history of anti-mob movements and laws that have had more or less success. A young man called “Peppino” Impastato, Sicilian son of a mobster started a pirate radio transmission where he and friends called spades spades and named names. He was killed for his efforts but became a symbol of the struggle to wrest Sicily from the economic/social/legal stranglehold of the mafia.
The early 1990s “Mani Pulite” (Clean Hands) corruption investigation that implicated Italian politicians, the Vatican Bank and the organized crime led to reprisals. In 1992, two anti-mafia judges, (this is the kind of judicial “activism” I can really get behind!) Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, were killed in car bombs. A year later Sicilian mafiosi, Salvatore Riina and Giovanni Brusca were convicted of the murders and sent to prison. Today, “Peppino” Impastato, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino are inspirations to Italians who want to see their country free from this crippling corruption.
The latest anti-mafia movement now comes in the form of agricultural co-ops this pasta and other good things. In the same way police auction off flashy drug-dealer BMW’s the Italian government hands over mafia-controlled land to cooperatives who produce durham wheat for pasta, tomatoes for their signature sauce, chick peas, olive oil and a lot of other things. Its all organic. I hope their project goes well. They sell their products under the brand “Libera Terra” (Free or Liberated Land).


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