Immigrant labour and Italian food culture

 One of the many interesting things I learned in my recent work in southern Italy is that increasingly the menial jobs of agriculture, like shepherding and dairying, is being done by immigrants.  In part this is because of a shared knowledge base around animals and agriculture, but it also reminds me of immigrant realities here in Canada: immigrants take these jobs because natives (Italians in this case) do not want them.  These jobs are undervalued because prices are very low for items like sheep’s milk, so shepherds aren’t exactly making a huge salary.  It is also demanding work, with early mornings and few days off.  I was interested to read about these issues in the Po Valley, in central Italy, the homeland of parmesan.  This BBC article does a great job of summarizing this fascinating mash up of tradition and modernity.

Sheep are herded across the Murgia Plateau in southern Italy by Mario, a shepherd from Romania, and his sheepdog Natasha