China dating wasteland

16 Feb

The officials were there for the same reason I was: to talk with villagers living in makeshift shacks built atop the remains of their original homes, which had been torn down to make room for a luxury golf resort some two years earlier. Not far from this village, a similar dispute involving a golf course and land compensation had resulted in a mass demonstration.

Even though new homes in a “relocation village” awaited them, the villagers stuck it out among the ruins, their own form of protest to what they saw as a raw deal. A developer pays a large sum of money to the local authorities for a parcel of land – all land in China is owned by the government – and a decidedly smaller sum gets filtered down to the displaced villagers who’ve lived there for generations. Protesters smashed and overturned local police cars.

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The bulk of the course consisted of a week-long trip to Italy. These exchanges were educational and enlightening, especially in promoting cross-cultural interaction.

Yet, Italy’s food waste score ranks below that of the US and many other European countries in a recent sustainability index. The coexistence of Italian food waste and food infatuation illustrates the global spread of negative culinary trends. There’s little appetite for leftovers or doggy bags.

Bigger supermarkets and large package sizes enable and entice over-purchasing. And maybe, just maybe, Italian food passion leads to perfectionism and picky purchasing.

Each time, it felt like we were at the UN, and in one case we were!

The class engaged in plenty of experiential learning, too, visiting a Parmigiano Reggiano maker, a balsamic vinegar producer and a supermarket hell bent on preventing food waste via the Last Minute Market program. I won’t soon forget the care and theatrics that a Bologna waiter exhibited when tossing and serving a Tagliatelle Bolognese.