Americans who visit small villages in Italy are struck by the radical difference between those lifestyles and the hectic, fast-food and fast paced lives we return to. Italian Americans who make pilgrimages to visit their ancestral home towns remark about family gravestones where life spans of ancestors who lived to 100 years or more are found. The Una Vita Foundation was developed to understand, protect and preserve these "small village" lifestyles which support excellent health.
At the Una Vita Foundation, we like to think of lifestyle not in terms of a marketing concept but in a larger, sociological context. People in Italy's small towns have developed, over many years, a "social capital" that sustains healthy lifestyles and longevity, one that includes women, men, children and extended family units in its net.
The local culture includes foods, and locally grown and locally created artisanal products that have been made according to age-old techniques, shared and developed locally. Unlike in the US, there is no need for labels likes "Organic," "Cage Free" or "Local," because these practices are the norm. Each village has a specialty, from cheeses and wines to fruit and vegetable dishes that are specific not just to a region but also to specific towns, which have yearly festivals for mushrooms, cabbages, berries or breads. Through a symbiotic relationship, the culture sustains the products and the products sustain the people. Regional foods are one expression of the local community's culture, to be savored and cherished, with family, friends and neighbors. Life is slowed down and this pace is conducive to "healthy living."