You probably think nutrition facts and nutrition labels on are your favorite foods are there to help you make the best choices about food. After all, where better to look in order to figure out what a serving size of cream cheese is or if the peanut butter you’re holding contains sugar? While food labels seem to help us, there are a growing number of people who are discontent with the amount and quality of information they give the consumer. Enter the narrative food label, a new concept Slow Foods recently unveiled for 51 small companies in Italy at Salone dek Gusto and Terre Madre in Turin, Italy. An international campaign to introduce the labels to the world is scheduled for 2013.
These new narrative labels focus on a variety of different attributes of food production. The labels will cover the food’s characteristics, territory in which it’s grown, how it’s cultivated, when it’s cultivated, how it’s treated, irrigation of the land, how’s it’s harvested, and recommendations for use. After the consumer reads the label they won’t just know how many grams of sugar are in the product, they’ll have an image in their mind of the land in which it’s grown and the farmers working that land. With so much information emphasizing terroir and the food's journey from farm to table, the new food labels notably exclude whether or not the product is organically grown, though Slow Foods is confident that the difference will come through from the extensive information on the labels; plus, none of these foods are being made in large factories, a hint that they are invariably committed to the most stringent food production standards.
Slow Foods was prompted to introduce new food labels because of what it deemed were empty claims of quality on products currently lining grocery store shelves. Whether or not Slow Foods’ new idea of product labelling takes off, its desire to change the way in which consumers conceptualize quality presents an interesting challenge to the current way of buying and consuming all types of food.
Emilia Morano-Williams is a Special Contributor at The Daily Meal who is covering this fall's Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy.