Tomorrow’s foods will be always more eco-friendly. This is a slogan that accompanies us with increasing frequency, but it’s not enough to convince us. We must give concreteness and credibility to these trendy clichés because a simple enunciation is no longer acceptable.
It is well known that the planet’s resources are beginning to run out, and there is also concern in industrialized countries. It is appropriate to recall another slogan, from afar, which reminds us that it is no longer possible to expect that the earth should produce more than today: man should do more with what the earth can offer (Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit on Environment and Development, 1992). For a long time this was only a slogan that scientists and learned men were repeating, unheard. That is also why the Planet is beginning to ask us to pay the bill. Thus, the largest multinationals in the food sector, such as Nestlé, Kraft, Unilever, Italian Barilla and Ferrero, just to mention a few, after a few years of study, are trying to take measures. Initiatives are developing also through European projects, such as EcoTroFood (European EcoTrophelia service platform for eco-innovation in food) where the famous Eco-Trophelia Europe competition takes place, only for the national teams of the main European countries. Each team consists of university students in the field of food technologies, and presents an innovative and sustainable food, specifically and fully developed: from the choice of raw materials to production process and packaging, from cost analysis to business plan development. During the 2013 Event, held in Cologne on October 6th and 7th during the Anuga Fair, the Italian team called “I Croccanti” (winner of the national selection) consisting of five students (Sara De Cesare, Michela Dioni, Tommaso Mastrofilippo, David Quadrelli and Rebecca Rizzi) of the Degree Course in Food Science and Technology of the University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in Piacenza, led by researcher Roberta Dordoni, brought Italy on the podium for the first time. I Croccanti got an excellent third place, behind the teams of France and Holland, and before other 15 teams from as many countries. The Italian product, named SOcrock for the competition (low-calorie bar containing grape pips and sorghum), has obtained great success, so much so that its production and marketing has already been requested in combination between an Italian and a German company. The product has a high degree of innovation and sustainability and, at the same time, it rediscovers and enhances the white sorghum, a minor cereal, which has the great merit of requiring low water consumption for growth. In addition, SOcrock also uses products (syrup) and by-products (fibers) of sorghum processing, in addition to grape pips, source of antioxidants and fiber at almost zero cost. The youngsters of the 18 teams who met in Cologne showed that sustainable food production is possible. Being the technologists of tomorrow, we should believe in them: the food of the future will be “green”, we have its evidence.
by Dante Marco De Faveri