Will Italian Food Ever Be the Same?

by Taylor Day, Agricultural Communications major

Which foods come to mind when thinking of Italian cuisine? Pasta? Cheese? Basil? Grapes? Olives? Fish? Artichokes?

I’m not sure about you, but being Italian and growing up in the traditional household, just typing the words make my mouth water, but unfortunately, I may have to be prepared to remove olives and olive oil from my diet. If spread of the bacterial outbreak-thought to have been transferred from plants from Costa Rica-continues north up the eastern peninsula of Italy, trees that are hundreds of years old will be infected and die.

This outbreak has been deemed as devastating to the Olive region. Particularly in the Southern part of Salento. Which is where a quarantine will be focused on.

There has been a plan implemented for many regions under quarantine however there is no guarantee that will be sufficient. As long as further steps are taken to sterilize and remove infected trees, the chances will be greater for stopping the disease.

At most, 35,000 trees could potentially be removed but it doesn’t seem likely anytime in the near future. Although, one farmer stated that the problem is getting noticeably worse and he fears it won’t stop anytime soon.

As long as the farmers take their part in disease prevention, it should be easier to contain it.

The stress from the disease would explain why olive production has either decreased or stopped, but what could be the cause of this rapid and all-consuming outbreak? Spittle bugs. During their nymph stage, they have a jell type casing that protects their body.

They can be found in the grass around infected areas of infected trees. So, these Spittlebugs dine on the leaves that are infected, and as they move from tree to tree, they spread the disease. Therefore, making it even harder to contain the spread.

So again, maintenance and vigilance is key to preventing the spread of this disease but also other diseases. Do you research and stay alert to changing or common symptoms for unhealthy plants.

So being that the research has linked this disease to its origin of Costa Rica, as well as identified how it spreads and how to best contain it, the prevention should be successful.

About me

My name is Taylor Day, I am majoring in Agricultural Communications, and completed my minor in Agribusiness. I love to own and show quarter horses, particularly in reining. Unfortunately, to go to school I had to sell my horses and just pursue my rugby and professional career. I also grew up showing my Doberman Pinscher in 4-H. I wouldn’t mind getting another dog again soon, but currently my two cats aka my lion and tiger, Wheaty and Winston, will do.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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