Many times, when people think of consuming gelato, they only think about the joys and pleasures they receive from its consumption. In addition, many individuals do not typically consider eating gelato healthy and part of a “balanced diet”. The gelato culture in Italy and over the world is changing as we speak to create a healthier version of gelato which still produces the feeling of pleasure for its consumers. Today, there are now ‘biological gelato shops’ which strive to make this happen. In a biological gelato shop, the makers make every effort to create the healthiest gelato possible with as few or any additive ingredients as possible. Many people today remain skeptical at first and often find themselves thinking: How can you make gelato healthy and still taste good at the same time? Three specific biological gelato places I tasted in Italy: Edoardo, De’ Coltelli, and Chiccheria, have successful bridged the gap between pleasure and diet and created gelato that pleases individuals both diet-wise and pleasure-wise.
The “Blind Consumer”
Before discussing how these gelato shops successful connect pleasure and health, it is important to note that many people in today’s society rarely pay attention to what their food contains. Wendell Berry refers to this person as a blind consumer. As Berry puts it, a blind consumer is one that fails to recognize the components of their food, and “blindly” consumes without truly knowing what they are consuming. The lack of concern for what people consume correlates to the fast pace life they must live. In the fast life, individuals are constantly on the go and because of this the fast food industry has increased drastically. In addition, people do not even take the time to actually enjoy the food they consume. In the Slow Food Manifesto, the authors note: “Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food…This is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it” (1). If consumers want to truly take time to taste the products that bring them pleasure when eating, they need to slow down and understand what exactly they are consuming. In all of the biological gelato places I visited thus far, every place has listed the ingredients contained in each flavor on the menu, or on their website. Although the owners provide the necessary resources for consumers on how to become more knowledgeable, it is up the consumer themselves to take the time to check into these available resources given.
A major component of the consumption of gelato is for the purpose of pleasure, even though there is no exact formula for obtaining this sort of pleasure. In addition, pleasure cannot be ensured every time consumption occurs. For example, I typically gravitate toward Crema gelato, but not every Crema is the same and my level of pleasure will never be the same each time I consume Crema from a different gelato shop. Another important aspect of pleasures is that in order to justify the pleasure obtained, a rational principle is needed in order to accurately justify it. However, many times rationally justifying the pleasure of eating gelato proves to be difficult since this pleasure is a bodily one and the body is irrational. In order to rationally justify the pleasure obtained from the consumption of gelato, many say dieting provides the correct rationalization.
A Rational Justification of Pleasures: Dieting
In Paul B. Thompson’s article “From Field to Fork” he explains the ethics of diet and how that has changed throughout the years, thus affecting today’s consumer. Specifically he details that in the past, eating wasn’t solely for pleasure like it is today. However, there has been a shift in the dieting of ancient times compared to the dieting of today. In the past, the root for dieting was mainly in spiritual and religious practices and medicine. In the past, doctors were the main source of authority when it came to dieting and advising patients. On the other hand, in today’s society, dieting and one’s relationship with food is based on things invisible to the human eye like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. The authority figure has shifted today with the doctors having less authority over the individual self.
In addition, dieting is a form of justifying what we eat and why we eat it. If we say that we are eating for health concerns, a rational reason, it successfully justifies the pleasure we receive from the food we consume. In the case of gelato, if we know we are consuming biological gelato as opposed to non-biological gelato, we can rationally justify the pleasure gained from the gelato because it provides more health benefits to us.
Biological Gelato Stop Number 1: Edoardo in Florence
The first stop on my biological gelato search was Edoardo in Florence. Upon entering Edoardo, I discovered their menu changes daily and that all of their flavors consist of only a few ingredients. Normally, if you grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the supermarket and read the ingredients listed on the back, you discover a lengthy list of ingredients, and many times these ingredients are not naturally occurring in our environment and are added to intensify the flavor. On the contrary, Edoardo lists all of their ingredients on the menu which helps consumers become less “blind” and more involved in their consumption of food.
When deciding what flavor to pick, I decided to choose the Chianti and strawberry flavor which included the ingredients Chianti white wine and strawberries, and Crema. I personally have never mixed wine and ice cream together, so I was hesitant at first. Much to my surprise the Chianti and strawberry flavor was surprisingly refreshing and extremely flavorful. I could taste the hints of Chianti wine and the strawberries and it amazed me that the workers at Edoardo did not add any artificial ingredients to enhance the flavor. The other flavor I chose to combine with the wine and strawberry was the Crema, a very basic flavor with only eggs, milk, and sugar. Once again, this flavor although basic in ingredients, was extremely rich.
In fact on their website, Edoardo stresses that their biological gelato lacks many ingredients that non-biological ice creams contain: additives, coloring, preservatives, adjuvants, chemically synthesized productive factors, and genetically modified organisms (GMO). From my first experience of a biological gelato shop, I received the same amount of pleasure from this gelato, if not even more than normal non-biological gelato. I eventually returned to Edoardo a second time and tried completely different flavors, but still felt the feeling of pleasure during and after consumption.
Biological Gelato Stop Number 2: De’ Coltelli in Pisa
While in Pisa, I stopped at De’ Coltelli another biological gelato shop. Like Edoardo, De’ Coltelli articulates its use of natural ingredients such as: fresh, seasonal fruits, organic ingredients such as fresh milk, cream, eggs, no synthetic fragrances, no dyes, and no chemical stabilizers. Like Edoardo, De’ Coltelli provided all of this information either directly on their menu in the gelato shop or on their website, providing easy access for the consumers to increase their knowledge of what they consume. I decided to try the vanilla after the owner explained to us where the vanilla bean came from. Once again, I was truly amazed by the simplicity of the gelato and how flavorful it was despite of the simplicity.
Biological Gelato Stop Number 3: Chiccheria in Marina di Grosseto
On my final search for biological gelato, I visited Chiccheria in Grosseto. Like the other two biological gelato shops, Chiccheria made it known to the consumer about the fresh ingredients and how little of them they actually included in each flavor. I decided to stick to my typical flavor of Crema and mixed it this time with a flavor which included ricotta, pine nuts and caramel. Just like the other gelato places mentioned earlier, the simple ingredients were much more flavorful than other kinds with a multitude of ingredients and flavors.
Finally: How to Obtain Pleasure from Biological Gelato
I am no expert gelato taster nor do I claim to be one, but after visiting these three biological gelato shops I can say that they are succeeding when it comes to making gelato healthy and delicious. After every visit at these shops, I noticed that I actually craved more gelato and wanted to go back for seconds immediately after consuming the first one. Typically when I eat non-biological gelato, this craving does not return for a while after consumption because I typically feel a little sick from all the extra additives. I truly felt good after consuming the biological gelato which rarely occurs after eating something which gives me pleasure. The job of the biological gelato shops has helped consumers become more knowledgeable about what they are consuming. Every gelato shop has a story, and it is up to the consumer to understand what they are saying to us. In the case of the biological gelato shops, they desire to show to their consumer that although gelato brings great pleasure to us, it can also be beneficial to our health.
Berry, Wendell. (2014). The pleasures of eating. Center for Ecoliteracy, 1-3
Chiccheria. Gelato naturale: Passione, tradizione, evoluzione. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2016, from http://www.chiccheria.com/
De’ Coltelli.Una gelateria naturalmente… artigianale. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2016, from http://www.decoltelli.it/tabella-gelati.php
Edoardo. Good for Nature, good for you. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2016, from http://edoardobio.it/eng-index.php
Slow food manifesto-selections.(1989).
Thompson, Paul B. (2015). From field to fork: food ethics for everyone. Oxford University Press, 81-105.