In southern Italy, around Naples to be more precise, they have a few time-honored traditions. One is the manufacture of one of the world's greatest cheeses (and my personal favorite), Mozzarella di bufala.
The other tradition is less refined: organized crime is omnipresent there, and works its way into the most mundane of businesses. For the past few years, that sad fact has manifested itself in the most unseemly way -- a trash crisis that has overwhelmed Naples.
Now, that well-reported urban nightmare is beginning to affect the rural regions outside the city. And, as the New York Times reports, cheese is threatened:
"In the last few months, sales of buffalo mozzarella have dropped 40 percent, the product’s trade association says. The problem makes for a near-perfect morality play about Italy: For years, the nation’s paralyzed political class has done little to halt huge-scale illegal dumping of trash, some of it toxic, around Naples. That area happens to produce some of the best mozzarella.
A new trash crisis peaked yet again, and last week fears that food might be contaminated seemed confirmed when health officials announced elevated levels of the carcinogen dioxin in samples of buffalo mozzarella. Last weekend, South Korea banned imports of the cheese, and Italy began scrambling to avoid deep damage to one of its most emblematic products."
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