Italian Schools Go Organic

By Charlie Nardozzi

Italians are known for their pride in preparing and serving high-quality food. Now they have become pioneers in instituting the use of organic foods in schools across the country. Since 2000 the Italian government has mandated that organic foods be served in Italian schools. Not all schools are participating yet, but even so, more than 25 percent of Italian children are now eating some organic food each day, and in Rome more than 140,000 kids eat only organic food at school.

The law has spurred production of more organic foods, and it's been used as an educational tool to teach children about ecological practices. The national law is being followed to various degrees in each region. In the Emilia Romagna region, the local government has implemented a law mandating a 100 percent organic diet for nursery and primary schools (from 3 months to 10 years) and at least 35 percent in advanced schools, universities, and hospitals. As contracts with current food vendors expire in 2005, they will be replaced with contracts using organic foods. Soon all 350,000 children in the region will be eating only organic foods at school.

For more information on these landmark laws, go to the Organic Consumers Web site.

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