Slow Food Presidia: a political act of love for Italy

19 September 2021

Presentata l’ultima pubblicazione di Slow Food Editore: L’Atlante gastronomico dei Presìdi Slow Food.

There are 349 Slow Food Presidia in Italy. This book highlights how this flagship project to ensure the future of local animal breeds, fruit and vegetable varieties, breads, cheeses, cured meats and traditional sweets is in continuous evolution.

L’Atlante gastronomico dei Presìdi Slow Food (The Gastronomic Atlas of Slow Food Presidia) is a snapshot of this evolution, sharing the stories of all 349 Presidia present in Italy.

The new generation of producers

«Quella dei Presìdi Slow Food è un’avventura importante e ben riuscita» ha spiegato il presidente di Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, nel corso della presentazione organizzata a Cheese 2021. «Negli ultimi cinquant’anni, l’elemento distintivo per quanto riguarda i prodotti alimentari è stato il prezzo: minore il costo, maggiore il successo sul mercato. Con i Presìdi, invece, invitiamo a fare un ragionamento sul valore: la qualità organolettica, le proprietà sulla salute, la tutela del territorio, il rispetto, il lavoro e il sapere di cui sono espressione, e la valorizzazione di tutti i soggetti coinvolti lungo la filiera. Corrispondere il giusto compenso a un lavoro così importante è essenziale, perché senza una prospettiva economica a chi lavora la terra, non vi può essere futuro».

More than 20 years have passed since the establishment of first Presidium, the Morozzo Capon, a length of time equivalent to a generation, and indeed the youngest producers today are that old: for this reason, we invited three such young producers to speak at the presentation. Claudia Roggero, 23, of the Alpine High Mountain Honeys; Matteo Bosonetto, 28, of Carema, and Simone Azaghi-Boreanaz, 30, of the Cabannina Cattle.

Born in honey

Claudia: “I was practically born in honey. My father has kept bees for over 30 years. I remember in 2003 when he built a workshop: me and my brother were small, but we were always there.” Starting with three, the numer of beehives has grown to reach 300. In the summer the Roggero family bring the bees from Rivoli, near Turin, where the business is based, to 1400 meters up in the Sangone and Pellice valleys to produce mountain flower honeys. “Some people are afraid of bees, and I understand that. But the work they do is extraordinary and really important for humans: that’s why we ask everyone to sign the European Citizens’ Initiative Save Bees and Farmers to demand that European institutions do more to implement a sustainable agriculture which is pollinator-, farmer- and environmentally-friendly.”

Extreme viticulture

Matteo Bosonetto’s story began in the family too: “My grandfather and father have always been dedicated to viticulture, without ever making it their main job. It was a passion, more than anything.” For Matteo, however, viticulture is more than a hobby. “I’m a cultivator, I deliver my grapes to the social cellar of Carema, a cooperative I’ve been part of since I was 18, and of which I’m not Vice-President.” One of the peculiarities of Carema is the location of the vines, which grow on terraces in a natural amphitheater which stretches up from 300 to 600 meters above sea level. As Matteo says: “Don’t imagine your classic vines here; these are pergolas made of stone and wood which are only worked manually. It’s an extreme viticulture, really hard work, and until recently it wasn’t sufficiently profitable to be worth it. Many producers don’t live exclusively from working these vines, in fact, but I hope the situation will change in the coming years.”

Carema

Saving the Cabannina

Simone Azaghi-Boreanaz runs an agritourism in Carro together with his family, where they raise Cabannina cattle, grow vegetables and serve the food they grow themselves in their restaurant. “Apart from the oil, wine and flour all the rest is produced in house.” The Cabannina, though, is the strong point. “They’re small cows, with a red mantle. They live freely all day here, feeding on whatever plants they find, which we supplement with hay and alfalfa only.” The Cabannina was almost extinct, but has been saved partly through Simone’s work. “We started with two cows which we always let roam, together with as many bulls. Now we have more than 30.”

The Presidia in numbers

“Putting together the Gastronomic Atlas required extraordinary teamwork across Italy,” says Serena Milano, the General Secretary of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. “Our project has a political value, because our choices, as consumers, are political acts; above all it’s a fun journey through the most beautiful Italy there is.”

There are 349 active Presidia in Italy, involving 2465 producers. Sicily has the highest number (51), followed by Campania (41), Piedmont (36), Tuscany (22) and Abruzzo (18). Vegetables are the most common food type (66) followed by cheeses (58), legumes and fruits (46) and cured meats (39).