Dietary Timeline

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"In 1930, the notorious Futurist poet Filippo Tomaso Marinetti called in his manifesto for a renewal of the nation's [that's Italy's, of course] feeding habits – in particular he called for pasta to be outlawed. Pasta, Marinetti claimed, made the people of Italy sluggish, pessimistic and above all too fat for the 'new heroic efforts that the race would soon require of them'. The abolition of the pasta course ('an absurd gastronomic religion' said Marinetti) would help 'make our bodies agile, suited to the light aluminium trains that will take the place of the heavy iron, wood and steel ones we have today…we turn to food to set the correct diet for an increasingly aerial and fast life.' The manifesto now seems silly enough to have been totally ignored, but not a bit. Instead, it provoked a terrific row, both in the press and between all sectors of an Italian society adjusting to a new – if false – identity under a totalitarian fascist regime."

Marinetti (who was a friend of Mussolini, you won't be surprised to hear) also said that 'Convinced as we are in a probable future war; the most agile, the most energetic nation will come out on top…spaghetti is not for fighters.' He claimed that pasta-eating was not 'virile'. The pasta company Barilla retaliated with a 'virile' poster depicting a boy riding a giant maccheroni, but "in the end it was a photo of Marinetti forking spaghetti into his mouth which brought the dispute abrubtly to a close."

Prince, R. (2002) Italy: Architecture for the mouth. Independent on Sunday, 16.06.2002.

Le Fanu suggests that the between 1930 and the mid-1960s the concept of a healthy diet was one that was high in fat and low in fibre. Milk and meat, high in fat were believed to be protective against diseases. While carbohydrate based foods were seen as starch laden and fattening.

Le Fanu, J. (1991) A healthy diet – fact or fashion. In Health, lifestyle and environment: Countering the panic. Social Affairs Unit, USA.