A country is considered to have food security when it has enough food to feed its the population and the people have access to food at all times. The food should be culturally acceptable, safe, healthy and affordable, should be obtained in a dignified manner, have the dietary needs that people require and should be produced in a manner that is environmentally safe (Teagan Media 2009).
Australia has benefited so much from the Italian immigrants. The food security in the country has been improved by the Italian food since they migrated into this region so many years ago. According to the above description, food should be culturally acceptable. The influence the Italian food has on Italian eating habits has generated another culture in which Italian foods are acceptable in the Australian culture. These foods are also known to promote good health which is a factor that has contributed to people accepting these foods into their culture and changing their eating habits.
The foods should also be produced in a manner that the environment is conserved or not damaged. Italians are known for farming and when they migrated to Australia, they took with them their farming skills into the region. These people ventured into the fruit and vegetable business and produced lots of fruits and vegetables that they sold to Australians. This formed part of changing the Australian eating habits and cultures. Farming practices are environmentally friendly except for those that use chemicals that have adverse effects to the environment (Vaisutis et al 2007, p. 75).
Food should also be obtained in a dignified manner (Teagan Media 2009). Farming to produce food is getting food in a dignified manner. The dietary contents of the foods available to the people in a country also contribute to food security. Food security is not only about the availability of the foods, but also about the dietary content of the food. There may be so much food in a country but the type’s available lead to health problems. Italian food is known world wide for its dietary content and contribution to good health (Vaisutis et al 2007, p. 76).
Since their migration into Australia, the Australian eating habits have changed with Australians adapting to eating more vegetables and fruits. Italians were also known to be hard working and bought lands for farming. Farming led to and still leads to production of food. With the availability of food, food security is increased. Italians immigrants therefore made and still make good contribution to Australia’s food security. It is noted in Capatti that even though Italians only made about 2% of the population in Australia during the times of immigration, for every three fruit and vegetable shop in Australia, one was owned by an Italian or Italians (2003, p. 147).
Food security is not all about poverty and it involves everyone. It involves farmers and everyone else who catches food like hunters and fishers, food sellers and places where foods are sold and produced. The region where most Italians settled in Australia is known for Italian food production.
Food security is only achieved when those involved in food production earn fair income for their efforts, everyone is empowered to work towards a good food system for the community, the production system is safe for both the people and the environment, there is support for production of food, communally, locally and regionally and when priorities are given to social inclusion and justice (Teagan Media 2009).
The reason why Italian immigrants continued producing more food apart from their own consumption purposes was for income. This community had the skills that could produce a lot of food to the Australians. Initial times were hard for most Italians and most of them opted to work in Australia for more money than in their own countries (Hayes 1970, pp.136-7). This led to savings which made them buy their own lands and expand their farming practices. This is a clear indication that this group of immigrants received good income out of the efforts they made in farming. There are periods when Australians did not even know some of the Italian fruits. The immigrants however continued supplying fruits and vegetables to restaurants and even taught Australians how most of their foods were prepared.
Another food security issue is that, regional or community food production should be supported to eliminate any risks of food insecurity. If the Australian government had thwarted this community’s efforts owing to the fact that they were immigrants and not native Australians, the people of Australia would not have even adopted the Italian eating habits.
Italian diet empowers people in Australia to work towards food production. The diet consists mostly of vegetables, fruits and other important food items such as olive oil, all which constitute to healthy eating. According to Lothian, this community’s eating habit is referred to as ‘eating the Mediterranean way’ or healthy eating. It is believed that Italian food is healthy as well as their eating habits which contribute to good health (2002, p. 146). Although Australians are not farmers, their support to this kind of food production contributes to food security in Australia. Australia today has so many Italian restaurants, groceries and food stores most of which are owned by Italians.
This does not mean that the Australian government plays no role in food production for the country. The population of the country cannot be supported by food production from one region and the adaptation of food habits and cultures from that region. The Australian government also plays its role in food production adding to the already existing food produced by the Italians in the country hence increasing food security.
The Italian cuisine varies according to the regions from which the Italian immigrants came from. Each area in Italy has its own specialties when it comes to food. The Southern regions uses more peconrino and caciocavallic chesses, olive oil and tomato based cooking, dried pasta and mozzarella, while the northern region Italians use more creams, polenta, grana padano, butter, mascarpone, lasagna, parmigiano cheeses, fresh egg pasta and risotto (Capatti 2003, p.148).
One common feature of Italian cuisine however is the vegetables and fruits in their diet. About 55% of Italian daily food is made up of cereals, which is pasta or bread, then about 20% makes up fruit and vegetable content and fat only makes about 10% which is also obtained from olive oil that they use for cooking. Foods such as fish, eggs and meat only account for 4% of Italian diet (Pacchioli 2002).
There is more to Italian cuisine than the popularly known pizza and pasta as the main foods for Italians. This as indicated earlier, depends on the regions from which an individual comes from. Risotto or polenta may replace pasta in some regions while sea food may replace lamb in some regions.
The cuisine however, has basic foods that are found in most regions. It consists of vegetables, fruits, cheese, fowl, grains, fish and meat. All these are usually cooked with olive oil or seasoned. The far north however has a different combination.
The Italian food for the poor known as La cucina povera, has been adopted by so many communities and acts as a model that should structure people’s eating habits (Capatti 2003, p.149).
These people also have a different eating habit from most people in the world. Their habit and food rules have been studied by so many nutritionists and have been found to contribute to the healthy status of most Italians (Nascimbeni 2009; Letters from Italy 2002). In a study comparing the effect of diet on weight and health among immigrants in Australia and the Native Australians, results showed that Italians had the lowest risk of developing diseases related to weight and cholesterol consumption. A different group however, the Samoans and the Tongans, had high risk of developing such diseases due to their eating habits. The group’s belief about food also contributed to their overweight nature and high mortality rates due to heart diseases (Akerman 2009).
According to Mele, Italians have a lengthy eating process. They start their meal with a simple breakfast which constitutes milky coffee (2006). Lunchtime takes along time and constitutes pasta, seafood, fish or meat, and antipasto, cheese and fruits (Mele 2006; Drayer 2006, p. 297).
There are eating rules that have to be followed as well. Specific foods are taken during specific times and no change of combinations of food is allowed. An example is, Italians do not accept to serve bread with pasta. Eating is also done at specific times of morning, day and night. Breakfast is not considered a major meal and only consists of milky coffee and a bread roll (Capatti 2003, p.150).
Italian lunches have several courses, are valued more than breakfast and take more time than other meals. It is eaten slowly while conversing with other members of the family. This has been contributed to by the fact that children do not go to school during lunch hour and most businesses close until 4pm giving them more time to spend with each other (Capatti 2003, p.150).
Italian cuisine culture
The culture of the Italian cuisine is not only about the health benefits. There is more to it which make these people have the health benefits and be admired by the whole world. They have varieties of foods and cooking methods which differ depending on the region. Italian cuisine is not considered as one even though there are several values that the cuisines share. Each group from different regions has its own special cuisine which forms the culture.
These people use sauerkraut and vinegar for cooking as part of their traditions. The traditions were inherited from Austro Hungarians who influenced their cooking culture. One important culture of the Italian cuisine is the drinking and eating leisurely with family and friends. This creates a very big difference from other cultures in the world and is considered as a binding factor that unites the Italian communities (The Cooking Culture in Italy; Capatti 2003, p.152).
Italian Foods and their Health Benefits
As noted earlier, Italian foods are rich in food nutrients essential for healthy diet and also prevent occurrence of certain diseases. So many diseases such as heart disease, cancers and strokes are prevented by a combination of foods in the Italian cuisine. All these will be outlined. This section will consider foods such as Oregano, tomatoes, garlic and others that are of importance to human health. The foods have different elements and chemicals that help the body fight so many diseases.
Olives and Olive Oil
Olive oil is used as oil to cook so many Italian foods. Most of these Italian foods are antioxidants, reduce risks of heart and stroke attacks and fight cancers. Olive oil plays a very important role in ensuring that the people who use it are healthy. It contains good fatty acids that help reduce getting diseases associated with low density lipids such as Atherosclerosis. It also has elements that help the body eliminate heart disease and stroke causing chemicals and processes. Processes such as oxidation are known for causing heart diseases and olive oil deoxidizes any elements that promote oxidation in the body. Apart from these, it also reduces inflammation and contains vitamin E (Mele 2006).
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins K, C and A, and also have a carotenoid known as lycopene with cancer fighting properties. Because of this chemical, tomatoes are able to protech human cells from so many cancers. Examples of such cancers are; endometrial, lung,breast and pancreatic cancers (Mele 2006). Tomatoes are antioxidants and as mentioned above, detoxification of oxidants leads to reduced chances of developing very many health problems.
This onion is used in most foods and can be cooked in sauces, served with olives as marinated whole cloves or even sliced on pizza. This too has health benefits.
It reduces diabetes side effects, reduces LDL cholesterol and reduces risks of heart attacks and strokes (Mele 2006).
Oregano is also used in Italian foods and contains elements that fight bacteria and reduce or prevent inflammation. When compared to apples in antioxidant activity, the herb has 42 times more than apples (Mele 2006).
These are fleshy tender portions of unopened thristle-like flower plant leaves and heart. Cooking method is through stuffing or steaming or the heart of the flower plant can also be canned. Artichokes enrich human diet by provision of fibers, folic and magnesium. This food also has vitamin C which is very important for the skin cells among other body cells (Mele 2006).
This is usually used as a flavour–enhancing herb in most dishes and also an important part of pesto. Basil prevents inflammations and infections from bacteria just like other food sources mentioned above. The product also helps improve human cell safety by ensuring oxidation does not destroy them as well as radiation. This food also gives the body vitamin A, iron and calcium (Mele 2006).
Most of Italian foods have health benefits. The foods either reduce the chances of getting strokes, cancers, heart diseases or reduce cases of one suffering from diabetes and so many other health benefits. The above given descriptions are just examples of Italian foods with health benefits. Other foods have health benefits as well. Eating the Mediterranean way however, is more than just the foods the Italians take. It involves eating habits and obeying the rules of Italian eating habits.
Impact of Migration to Australia on Eating Habits and Food Consumption of a Person Following this Cuisine and the Implications for Possible Food Insecurity and Health Outcomes
According to the above definition, one of the factors that lead to food insecurity is when the food is not culturally accepted. According to Italian food rules and cultures, migrating to Australia would change the eating habits, food rules and the Italian culture. Even though Italian cuisine has influenced the Australian culture, some of the Australian cultures have been absorbed by the Italians living in Australia. Most Italians who went back to Italy preferred coming back to Australia arguing that Italy had become more like Australia (Drayer 2006, 297). Italians who follow their cuisine in Australia therefore risk food insecurity due to change in culture and unavailability of some Italian cuisine food items.
Migrating into Australia does not mean that all the cultures and eating habits are left and the Australian eating habits adopted. There may be influence which has to occur since the people interact. The health benefits of Italian foods and eating habits would still be evident in people or Italians who eat Italian foods, follow the rules and develop Italian eating habits. Problems may arise however due to unavailability of all the foods that make up the Italian cuisine. According to history, Italians in Australia have influenced the Australian culture and have even changed their eating habits, but it is not possible to grow and import all the food that make up the Italian cuisine (Drayer 2006, 297).
Artichokes in Tomato Sauce
This food requires food items such as garlic cloves, parsley, olive oil, onions and tomatoes.
2 pounded garlic cloves, 8 standard Artichokes, half a cup of newly sliced Parsley, one middle size onion, three tablespoons of Olive Oil, salt and pepper and a can of sliced tomatoes (Mele 2006).
- Remove the tough outer leaves and stem of the Artichokes and ensure the product has a flat bottom that can balance on a pot.
- Get rid of the thorny block and straight away place the remaining piece of block a bowl of water that is prepared from lemon juice.
- The artichokes should then be chopped into blocks
- Return the blocks into the lemon juice and put down till ready for use
- Fry-up the garlic and onions in olive oil
- Wait till they are translucent then add the tomatoes and let it simmer for about 10 minutes
- Remove the lemon juice from the Artichokes by draining then add them to the tomato sauce
- Add salt and pepper and leave to cook for 45 minutes
- The Artichokes will have cooked (They should be fork tender)
- Add little water if the sauce is too thick
- Sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve warm.
Recipe obtained from Italian Food (Mele 2006).
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Lothian T, 2002, How to Cook a Galah, pp. 146-7.
Nascimbeni, Paolo, 2009, “Italian Food Rules: Italian Eating Rules” Web.
Pacchioli D, 2002, “Dieting Italian Style”, Penn State Online Research. Vol. 23, Issue 2. Web.
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