Italy is currently in the process of banning lab-grown meat and other synthetic foods in a bid to “safeguard our nation’s heritage.” If approved, the bill, backed in March 2023, would lead to fines of up to €60,000 for the production, import and export of lab-grown food. The move is reflective of prior rounds of legal action by the country. Last year, Italy banned a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant next to the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla and in 2017, Venice installed new measures that prevents the proliferation of fast food restaurants. The Italian government hopes to further reinforce their food heritage by listing it as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, which UNESCO will confirm or deny by December 2025.
In November 2022, UNESCO declared the baguette, known for its four ingredients and specific technique, to be protected by adding to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The announcement was positively received, with the French president, Emmanuel Macron describing the baguette in a tweet as “a French way of life” and “250 grams of magic and perfection in our daily lives.” The baguette joins other nominated heritage food on UNESCO’s list including Ukrainian borscht, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s kimchi and Haiti’s joumou soup.
Last year, the United Kingdom opened its first Food Museum in Suffolk, which aims to educate guests on the intangible heritage food processes and bring culinary experiences to life. The Museum notes in a press release: “there are brewery tours and chocolate factories, but no museum dedicated to reflecting the heritage of something that all of us need every day and which has preoccupied society for as long as people have existed.”
During the Terra Madre Network conference in Turin, Italy, Saudi Arabia’s pavilion spotlighted awareness on thirteen heritage foods that were in decline, this includes Al-Maghami dates and Hassawi rice.
Social media has globalized local cuisine, allowing recipes to transcend location and global food to be consumed by interested foodies around the world. As a result, countries are revisiting the draw of experimental dining while battling new-age shortcuts and lab-grown meats to preserve traditional food heritage and the taste that defines each nation.