When perusing product labels in the local grocery store, we are accustomed to sorting through countless varieties until we come across the sugar-free, calorie-free, or nutrition-free item of our choice. And now there’s one more label guarantee to keep an eye out for: Mafia-free. The Libera Terra (“Free Land”) label is dedicated to producing wine, olive oil, and pasta that is free of illegal influence. In the article, “Italian food: now mafia free!” Irene Peroni, of the GlobalPost, discusses how a once small co-op of concerned citizens has grown into a profitable business directly challenging the authority of the Italian mafia.
The Cooperativa Placido Rizzotto owns the Libera label and operates business on land once owned by some of the most dangerous mob bosses in Italy. Having committed his life to combating organized crime in Southern Italy, Don Luigi Ciotti heads Libera, cultivating 490 acres of land confiscated by the Italian Parliament after the co-op collected one million signatures calling for convicted mobsters’ property to be used for “socially useful purposes.” But translating those one million voices in action wasn’t so easy – many community members were afraid to touch anything with connection to the mafia. Initially, finding hands to work the seized soil was so difficult that the military police had to find and force local contractors to take the job. Now, however, it seems more and more citizens are coming around to the idea of openly endorsing a mafia-free existence.
From the Centopassi wine label that is the co-op’s most successful product to the mob boss vacation home turned wholesome bed and breakfast, Peroni explains how this mafia-free food movement truly is the “taste of freedom.”
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