Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Italian food producers and shops offer new way to fight Mafia

ROME, Italy -- Of all the ways to fight the Mafia, having pasta for dinner isn't usually one of them. But now, that's exactly what Italians can do to help beat organized crime.

A shop in central Rome is offering an array of ''anti-Mafia'' food -- including pasta, wine, olive oil, chick peas, and tomato sauce -- all produced on land recently seized from the Sicilian Mafia and handed over to farmers.

''We have transformed the fight against the Mafia,'' said Antonio Dell'Olio, an anti-Mafia activist who helps promote the shop's goods. ''I can eat anti-Mafia. Anti-Mafia is in my own life.''

Italian law allows authorities to assign property confiscated from organized crime groups to cooperatives, social workers, and volunteers.

In the Sicilian capital of Palermo, a consortium called Libera Terra, or ''Free Land,'' turned agricultural fields formerly devoted to illegal activities into a profitable and legal business.

The label on the food produced there even advertises ''the lawful taste of Sicily.''

The Libera Terra consortium produces the food on the same land once controlled by Toto Riina, a top Mafia boss jailed for a string of murders in the 1990s. That land is in Corleone, the Sicilian town whose name became famous in the Godfather movies.

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