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Posted by on Jan 31, 2009 in Economy, Politics, Religion, Society | 2 comments

Food Fight: Italy Begins Banning Foreign Foods

Cities in Italy have begun banning kebabs and other foreign foods, in what they say is an attempt to “promote local specialties from the growing popularity of ethnic cuisines.” To be more specific, new ethnic food outlets are not allowed, and existing establishments are pressured to use only Italian ingredients.

The recipe for this ridiculousness is simple: Mix a little anti-immigration hysteria with a helping of excessive economic protectionism, add a dash of stupidity and just a smidgen of laziness.

This campaign originated with anti-immigrant groups, and it’s tough to ignore the racial undertones to the ban. But, it has extended to include McDonald’s as well as a wide range of imported foods, so it can’t all be attributed to that. For cover, politicians are claiming the ban is about protecting Italian businesses and culture, which probably seems extreme regardless of where you fall on the spectrum regarding government intervention in free markets.

And did I mention the laziness:

Davide Boni, a councillor in Milan for the Northern League, which also opposes the building of mosques in Italian cities, said that kebab shop owners were prepared to work long hours, which was unfair competition.

The irony of it all is that many “traditional” Italian foods originated in other cultures. The San Marzano tomato, a staple ingredient of Italian pasta sauces, was a gift from Peru to the Kingdom of Naples in the 18th century. Even spaghetti may have originated in China.

Cross-posted at Ablogistan.