Slow Food, and the quality food chain

The UNESCO Dolomites Foundation has decided to re-launch the Slow Food “Ripartiamo dalla Terra” (Let’s Start from the Earth) appeal. The petition aims to alert the institutions to the need to support local producers during the Coronavirus crisis, helping those who work with respect for the earth and provide safe, high quality food for the catering sector.

Slow Food: restarting with agriculture that protects the land

The appeal originated from the Slow Food Alliance and brings together the chefs from 540 restaurants, taverns, food trucks and mountain huts. The aim is to draw the attention of the government and all the institutions to the need to support the worthiest farming businesses during the period of recovery. Specifically, the request refers to the tax credit system, already in place for certain expenses related to the Covid-19 emergency, and asks that it be extended to purchases of agricultural produce and small-scale food products linked to local supply chains (“local” meaning within the region). The suggestion is that it should be set at a minimum of 20%, increasing to 30% for those companies that practice organic or biodynamic agriculture, or are located in marginal and disadvantaged areas that are of particular environmental value to our country.

Promoting the short supply chain

One of the objectives of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation is to encourage links between high quality local producers and the world of catering, and to this end it has established a network of dialogue and collaboration. The mountain huts themselves can become places where the beauty of the Dolomites landscape combines with local flavours and high quality products, creating an experience of the area that is increasingly popular with visitors, especially those from abroad. The decision to share the appeal by the Slow Food chefs is totally consistent with the action that the Foundation has been carrying out in the territory. However, it also coincides with the view from many quarters that after the Covid-19 emergency we really need to adopt a new way of understanding our relationship with the environment, with biodiversity, and with the economy.

The supporters of the appeal stressed an important aspect: “Through our cuisine, we have been able to spread awareness, beauty and pleasure. We have described our local areas and cultures. All this would not have been possible without the daily efforts of the farmers, breeders, cheese-makers, winegrowers and artisans who put their heart into their work and show respect for the land and for their animals.”

The mountains, different by definition

As the Slow Food chefs went on to explain: “These producers derive a large part of their income from their relationship with restaurateurs like us, who know how to respect the rhythms of the seasons, and recognise the need to pay a fair price for their products, thus encouraging development and economic opportunities in often difficult areas.” The appeal has become a sort of manifesto in defence of quality, and is particularly relevant for a territory such as the Dolomites, whose unique geology and landscape led to its inclusion on the World Heritage List. For this is a territory where “quantity” of production is limited by insurmountable geomorphological barriers, and where quality is the only option for small producers if they are to survive, and to bring the fruits of their labours to the tables of restaurants and mountain huts.