I cibi biologici tra scienza, natura e cultura

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Le questioni ambientali, al centro di numerosi dibattiti nella sfera pubblica, hanno visto emergere negli ultimi anni una crescente sensibilità degli Italiani. Il rapporto tra scienza, tecnologia e natura infatti vede rafforzarsi l’attenzione nei confronti di quest’ultima, che si manifesta concretamente nell’interesse dimostrato per i cibi che si portano in tavola. La tendenza a prediligere ciò che viene percepito naturale e non artefatto ha dunque favorito il consumo di prodotti biologici, simbolo per antonomasia dell’assenza di manipolazione tecnologica. Tali alimenti sono infatti apparsi negli ultimi dieci anni sulla tavola di moltissimi italiani, diventando per molti un’abitudine rilevante.

I dati raccolti con un’indagine nazionale condotta da Observa indicano che più della metà delle famiglie intervistate dichiara di acquistare prodotti biologici e convenzionali, mentre una quota esigua ma non trascurabile (2,3%) si rivolge esclusivamente al settore biologico.

Le caratteristiche dell’alimento biologico a cui i consumatori prestano maggiore attenzione hanno a che fare con l’origine e la conoscenza delle materie prime, con la presenza della certificazione sul prodotto e, infine, con la freschezza e il rispetto delle norme igieniche. Le scelte di tali acquirenti evidenziano quindi chiaramente la tendenza a ricercare nei prodotti che portano in tavola la tracciabilità dei processi di produzione e lavorazione, a garanzia di una maggiore salubrità e qualità.
Al contrario, risultano di poco peso l’aspetto esteriore del prodotto, la marca e la bontà. Tali caratteristiche infatti non garantiscono la naturalità del cibo né la sua valenza salutistica, ragion per cui viene posta maggiore attenzione agli ingredienti, alla zona di produzione, alle caratteristiche nutrizionali, ai controlli pubblici e infine alla certificazione, la quale risulta indispensabile soprattutto per chi acquista solo bio rispetto a chi acquista sia bio sia convenzionale.

Le motivazioni che orientano gli acquisti di prodotti biologici sono associate alla richiesta di elevati standard qualitativi, spesso non garantiti dalla produzione alimentare convenzionale. Sia chi fa un uso esclusivo sia chi utilizza alimenti bio e convenzionali assegna la stessa gerarchia di importanza: le principali preoccupazioni riguardano l’assenza di residui chimici e di OGM. Chi consuma solo bio all’unanimità reputa queste due condizioni sono fondamentali per i propri orientamenti di scelta, percentuale che scende lievemente per i consumatori parziali di biologico. Entrambi i gruppi danno importanza poi alla tutela ambientale, alla sicurezza alimentare e alla salubrità. L’unico elemento che sembra differenziare gli orientamenti dei due tipi di acquirenti è la valutazione della bontà: la dimensione del gusto è prioritaria per il 70% di coloro che consumano solo bio mentre la percentuale si riduce notevolmente tra coloro che hanno una dieta mista (30%).

È possibile rintracciare quindi tre diversi fattori di base che sostengono la predilezione per il biologico: da un lato si trovano ragioni legate alla salubrità dei cibi. In seconda istanza si riconoscono motivazioni di tipo etico che abbracciano diverse sfere: l’attenzione all’ambiente e al benessere animale. Infine, emergono anche considerazioni legate alla dimensione del gusto, anche se la loro incidenza sembra meno rilevante rispetto agli altri fattori.

La crescente attenzione dei consumatori verso gli alimenti biologici e la sicurezza ambientale rivela dunque una sensibilità sempre più diffusa verso i temi della qualità della vita e in particolare l’interesse verso il rapporto salute e cibo. Il comportamento alimentare dei cittadini, infatti, è divenuto sempre più selettivo e orientato dalla disponibilità a investire in misura rilevante per acquistare prodotti di qualità e biologici.

Tuttavia, l’acquisto di prodotti biologici non sembra connettersi al consumo di prodotti tipici, dato che circa solo un intervistato su tre li consuma regolarmente. Nemmeno la partecipazione ad iniziative pubbliche riguardanti i prodotti alimentari di qualità, come fiere, degustazioni, mostre o convegni, sembra discriminare i bio-consumatori dagli acquirenti di prodotti convenzionali, dato che poco più di un intervistato su tre dichiara di prenderne parte spesso o saltuariamente. Da ciò si deduce che il consumo di prodotti tipici, quali DOP, DOC, DOCG, IGT non è più radicato tra chi sceglie cibi provenienti da agricoltura biologica rispetto a chi invece si rivolge agli alimenti del settore convenzionale.

La scelta di consumare alimenti biologici sembra invece legarsi all’utilizzo di rimedi curativi non convenzionali: sette consumatori di alimenti convenzionali su dieci utilizzano esclusivamente medicine allopatiche, mentre tra chi ha una dieta mista è forte la propensione ad utilizzare sia prassi di cura convenzionali sia non convenzionali, nonostante esista una quota tutt’altro che trascurabile (43,4%) che dichiara di affidarsi soltanto all’orientamento biomedico ufficiale. È interessante notare come la propensione ad utilizzare medicine non convenzionali sia strettamente legata alla quota di prodotti biologici consumati: più gli acquisti alimentari sono biologici, infatti, più i consumatori sono inclini a scegliere prassi di cura definite “alternative”. Infatti, più di un acquirente esclusivo di bio su quattro dichiara di rivolgersi esclusivamente alla medicina non convenzionale e all’incirca il 50% ammette di usare farmaci tradizionali e non convenzionali.

I bio-consumatori dunque sono in possesso di uno stile di consumo alimentare e di modelli comportamentali che rispecchiano non solo l’orientamento alla qualità dei prodotti portati in tavola, ma anche una visione di benessere fondata sulla gestione autonoma e consapevole delle decisioni riguardanti la propria salute e il proprio corpo che li conduce ad effettuare talvolta scelte diverse da quelle socialmente più diffuse e condivise. In questo senso operano selettivamente le proprie scelte di acquisto, verificando puntualmente le garanzie di qualità offerte dalle varie innovazioni tecno-scientifiche, alle quali scelgono di volta in volta di aderire o meno, dimostrando così un grado di riflessività e consapevolezza che si riverbera e, al contempo, manifesta gli orientamenti legati anche ad altre sfere di vita.

Questo contributo riprende in forma sintetica i risultati di un’indagine nazionale condotta nell’ambito del progetto RISBIO finanziato dal MIPAAF (Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali) e diretto dall’Università di Bologna. Per una versione più completa dei risultati raggiunti con l’indagine si veda l’articolo: FARINELLO F., PELLEGRINI G. (2009) “Organic consumers and new lifestyles: An Italian country survey on consumption patterns”, in British Food Journal, Emerald, Vol. 111, n. 9, pp. 948-074.

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