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Can Italians really give up pasta?

Scott Jagow Sep 13, 2007

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Consumer groups in Italy called for a strike today against pasta. They want Italians to skip the fettucini for one day to protest the rising price of pasta. It’s going up because wheat prices are at an all-time high.

But in Italy, a day without pasta . . . I mean, Italians eat 62 pounds of it a year.

We’re joined now by reporter Megan Williams in Rome. Megan, I understand you just went to the grocery store. Are Italians really not buying pasta?

Megan Williams: No, people are buying it, and I don’t think the rise in cost of pasta has sung in yet. And I think the idea behind today’s strike is not so much that people are gonna stop buying pasta for the day, but an awareness campaign to get people realizing that in fact, over time, this is going to add up to a lot of money.

Jagow: Have we seen any effects yet on businesses?

Williams: Well, businesses are complaining, and not just stores that are selling pasta. I mean, I talked to one woman who’d just come from the countryside in Rome, and she said her local flour mill had just shut down because they did kind of a specialized flour for a special type of pasta. And she said they just couldn’t afford to keep selling at the price that it would cost them to produce it. The big companies are, you know, are going to try and absorb as much of it as they can, and the rest of it gets passed on to consumers who have to pay the difference. And I think because pasta is a staple, it touches a nerve, because it’s such a heavily symbolic item in Italy. It something that has been sustaining people for centuries.

Jagow: So do you think Italians will go to a low-carb diet now?

Williams: Haha, I doubt that very much. That would be nothing short of a revolution.

Jagow: All right, Megan Williams in Rome. Thanks for joining us.

Williams: Thanks, Scott.

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