French Baguette Earns Spot on UNESCO's 'Intangible Cultural Heritage' List

Image copyright: Reuters [via BBC]

The Facts

  • On Wednesday, the Paris-based United Nations heritage body UNESCO voted to add the "artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread" to its list of "Intangible Cultural Heritage," which includes 600 traditions that span more than 130 countries.

  • French Pres. Macron described the baguette as "250 grams of magic and perfection." More than 6B are produced each year in french bakeries that have been in decline — especially in rural areas in recent years.

The Spin

Narrative A

Food culture is part of humanity. It's not just about the foods we eat but about why we eat food, how we prepare it, and who we share our cuisine with. Food connects us to history and allows people to connect across societies. It is important to protect these cultural foods to safeguard our traditions and continue to share in our shared history — the baguette is a great example.

Narrative B

There are significant flaws in the UNESCO application and selection process for the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. For example, the process has largely excluded Chinese cuisine from the recognition, which is focused on unique historical know-how and skills. To have a more effective selection process, UNESCO must stop treating the process as a Western-centric publicity stunt and focus on humanity's collective culinary legacy.

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