What is the Narrative Label?
Slow Food proposes a new label, a small revolution in the world of communication of food products: the narrative label.
Along with the information required by law, the narrative label (a counter-label) provides precise information on the produ- cers, their companies, the plant varieties or animal breeds used, cultivation techniques, breeding and processing, animal welfare, and areas of origin.
To judge the quality of a product, chemical or physical analyses are not enough, and not even tasting is sufficient. Any technical approach will not take into consideration all that is behind a product – the origin, history, processing technique – and does not allow the consumer to understand if a food is produced in a way that respects the environment or social justice.
In addition, marketing communications that accompany products is often mystifying: it recalls a world of farmers filled with poetry, alleged traditional techniques, and vague references to ancient flavors. Evocative images that are very far in reality from the actual quality of the advertised products. As reflected in the list of additives and ingredients of an unknown nature that are found most often on the labels of the products that we put in our shopping cart, they are light years away from the images and slogans depicted in advertising.
Frequently, the most healthy and authentic products are the ones that are penalized: their labels are legal but inadequate, and do not do justice to the extraordinary cheeses, sweets, cured meats and genuine artisanal foods to which they are applied.
Despite calls to read the label before purchasing, there are unfortunately few authentic elements on the label with genuine depth that allow for informed choices.
According to Slow Food, the quality of a food product is first and foremost a narrative, that begins with the origins of the product (the territory) and includes cultivation techniques, processing, preservation methods, and, of course, the organo- leptic and nutritional characteristics. Only a narrative can restore a product’s true value.