Fondazione Zoé

The mania for the organic is maybe part of a dream of childhood in the country…

This year I am spending the summer holidays in the country, in the countryside in which I grew up and where my family history goes back generations. It is farming country, high in Monferrato, where I find myself among the children of my father and grandfather’s farmer friends. They are often farmers or semi-farming stock, in that they work “down in the town” – which in these parts means Genoa or Alessandria – but they keep their parents’ “piece of land” which they tend to in the evenings and weekends. As a good countryman from Milan, I’ve tried to realise my own little naturalist-ecological dream: I have put up solar and photovoltaic panels, I collect rain water so as not to use the hose, I use organic pesticides, only squashing the spiders that run the roost at my house… My neighbours do none of this, believing my “noble” behaviour to be a bit effeminate or snobbish. Their behaviour is much more concrete and practical: animals and plants “serve” and are used as tools, insects are annoying and should be killed with DDT insecticide and it’s better plastic containers in the microwave than old copperware (a cult for those in Milan).

I’m so aware, despite never having read sociology, that my mania for the organic is (at least in part) part of a dream which stems from a lack or a mutated memory of childhood in the country which never really happened… In the same way, my neighbours who speak of the “big city” (without ever having really lived that life) fully appreciate, with no sense of guilt, commodities and the technological and “violent” resources of urban life. In short, what we do and what we feel seems to be an eternal compromise between reality and fantasy, between need and desire.



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