According to the New York Times blogger Ben Schott a selectarian is “one who exercises meticulous choice over the food they eat”. Schott reports that: a) on his website the yogi Bryan Kest elaborated upon the concept of selectarianism “Personally, I like to call myself a selectarian. In other words, I consciously select the food I eat, which is different than unconscious eating, which is eating due to old habit patterns without questioning its health effects & potency”; b) in the Web, the word “selectarian” is usually used to describe those who are primarily vegetarian yet eat meat and fish on occasion.
However both definition just refers to health criteria. While according to me a selectarian is a consumer (customer/client) who choses the services/goods he purchase according to a very high personal awareness and an informed knowledge of the market, not only health related. The selection is made according to one or more of the several possibile criteria, which are not anymore the mainstream or trendy ones : the latest fashion, the fanciest commercial testimonial, the coolest packaging, the biggest stuff for the lowest price. In fact the criteria are not about appearence, because it’s all about the substance and essence of things.
Food is probably the most relevant field of interest for selectarians, for 2 main simple reasons: 1) we eat everyday 2) food is about health.
Selectarian is also the title of a research project that is being carried out since January 2014 by R&D departement of The Mediterranean Institure of Culinary Arts (Università della Cucina Mediterranea – UCMed) a no profit organization – vocational training centre based in Sorrento, one of the cradle of food, in the South of Italy.
The first results of the research have been officially presented during the GUSTUS Food Exhibition, in Naples (Italy) 4-6th December 2014 and will be soon published by UCMed.
It is the first time that this subject is investigated with a scientific approach in order to understand its main features, figures, and potentials .
In brief, it’s clear that, in spite of an increasing global food crisis (worsening of food quality, less equal access to healthy food, the diffusion of obesity and hazardous nutrition culture, ..) there are many facts underlining the existence of a worldwide non self-conscious wave of (food) selectarians.
The criteria (as said, it can be one or a combination of 2 or more) the selectarians adopt to exert their purchase power and therefore to support a certain kind of economy or to deny support to another one, can be summarised as follows:
a) health (wholesome, organic food; vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or any special diet; selection of the most nutritional food from all over the world;..);
b) ethics (human rights; no child labor; no animal or animal dignity respect ;..)
c) environment (zeroKm, local food; environmental friendly packaging, zero waste,..);
d) solidarity (fair trade, social cooperatives, antimafia cooperatives;…);
e) religion (halal or kashèr food; sacred animals;…);
f) seasonality and typicality (a more diverse diet, support to local farmers,..).
There’s no doubt that the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises – food producers as well as restaurants, catering or banqueting companies), as well as touristic destinations, can not ignore this huge challenge if they want to compete (and to survive) in the global market. especially in a country like Italy.