The importance of food localism

Food localism is a crucial topic in the increasingly globalized world in which we live. With each passing day consumers are increasingly attentive and aware of the origin and provenance of the ingredients used in cooking. This attention also extends to aromas and spices, fundamental components of nutrition that add flavour, depth and character to our dishes.

For Europrodotti supporting local producers of flavors and spices is an ethical choice, which brings with it many concrete benefits for both consumers and local communities.

Local agri-food excellence: a great Italian wealth

Italian agri-food specialties are a wealth that worthily complements the artistic and cultural riches that our country possesses and that the whole world admires and envies us.

In 2022 Coldiretti has calculated that there are as many as 5,450 local products that respect the rule of a traditional preparation continued over time for at least 25 years. In detail this circle of exquisite delicacies includes:

  • 1,616 types of bread, pasta and desserts;
  • 1,577 of fresh or processed fruit, vegetables and greens;
  • 822 of meat, cured meats, hams and sausages;
  • 524 of cheeses and dairy products;
  • 320 of gastronomic products;
  • 229 products of animal origin;
  • 188 preparations of fish, molluscs and crustaceans;
  • 174 non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.

Typical agri-food products represent an important part of the national economy. But above all they are essential for the economy of the villages and small communities scattered across the territory, in the countryside, on the islands and in the mountains. Food presidia such as the Valdesi Valleys Mustardela in Piedmont, the Casentino Ham in Tuscany or the Sicilian Palazzolo Sausage guarantee work both directly and by encouraging collateral activities such as tourism and catering, pass on historical and cultural values, contribute to the protection of the environment and keep alive those small municipalities that would otherwise become depopulated.

It is significant that every year the basket of typical products is enriched with new specialties. In 2022 5,450 products were counted compared to 5,047 in 2016, a growth that demonstrates the existence of a generational turnover. There are more and more young people who consider work on the farm, in the mountain pastures and in artisan workshops not as a sacrifice but as a rewarding commitment.

Local ingredients: simple resources rich in virtues

In the early 2000s farmers and breeders decided to cut the distance that separated them from consumers by offering the direct purchase of products within their farms. This initiative, launched sporadically, was welcomed by families who on weekends discovered farms where fruit and vegetables were grown with natural methods, organic farms where animals were free to graze and gastronomic products, from bread to cured meats and cheeses, produced with artisanal methods. It was the birth of zero kilometer foods, ingredients and products that we appreciate today for the richness and authenticity of their flavor and aroma but whose advantages go beyond the pleasures of good food. Let's see what are all the virtues that local ingredients offer not only to those who love to eat well.

Guarantee of food quality and freshness

The foods offered by local producers are synonymous with freshness. Fruit and vegetables are harvested on the spot. The eggs are daily. Meats are freshly slaughtered. All these products did not have to undergo long journeys to reach the industries for processing and from there to the supermarkets for sale. Therefore, not having been subjected to the inevitable conservation processes, they retain all their authenticity and nutritional properties.

Savings for the producer and the consumer

The price of an agricultural product can increase by up to 600% from the moment it is harvested to the moment it arrives on the shelves of a shop or supermarket. Often the farmer who has taken all the risks of production finds himself with a non-existent profit margin or bitterly discovers that he has worked at a loss. The short supply chain, however, eliminates all those phases of the logistics chain that raise costs, such as the various steps from wholesalers to final retailers, allowing farmers to increase their profit and consumers to save thanks to lower final prices.

Reduction of environmental impact

Zero kilometer products make it possible to reduce to a minimum carbon and fine particle emissions linked to transport along the entire logistics chain. Local producers adopt sustainable practices that raise the quality of food, protect the surrounding environment and preserve natural resources. For example, organic compost is used as a fertilizer as an alternative to artificial chemicals and useful insects, such as ladybugs, are used to fight parasites. We all know the high costs of collecting and disposing of packaging and their environmental impact when they are burned or end up in the sea. Direct purchase does not require packaging of the products, thus avoiding the use of trays, boxes and plastic films.

Protection of biodiversity

There are various initiatives by agri-food producers that contribute to the protection of biodiversity. Cultivation with organic methods that avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides protects bees, on whose pollination work 75% of food production depends. Spice and herb growers are at the forefront in this field. There are farms that have invested in the cultivation of ancient vegetables and cereals that were in danger of disappearing. Some examples are scorzonera, a plant similar to carrots but which is actually part of the artichoke family, which has precious detoxifying properties and is recommended for those suffering from diabetes. In Abruzzo black-haired pigs were saved from extinction by the producers of Abruzzo liver sausage, who came together in an association to protect and encourage the breeding of this breed of pigs.

Traceability and food transparency

Local producers offer conscious consumers much more than just a place of origin printed on the label of their products. In fact they guarantee the possibility of visiting their farms and having a transparent and direct vision of the cultivation and breeding methods and how both health regulations and the unwritten laws of ancient traditions are respected. Visiting the Tuscan nurseries where rosemary and sage are grown naturally and the Aosta Valley huts where Jambon de Bosses ham is hand-crafted can represent an exciting journey through time towards an era of tastes and aromas capable of moving us.

Support for local economies

There are small Italian communities that are known throughout the world thanks to their gastronomic specialties. Colonnata lard starts from this small Tuscan hamlet to enter the recipes of the most famous international star chefs. Polesine white garlic is a valuable production from the lower Veneto region. The success of the Pachino tomato grown in south-eastern Sicily has been such that it has accumulated numerous imitation attempts, such as the infamous Pechino tomato. The prestige of these and many other local products is the pillar on which the economy of towns and small municipalities is based. The advantages are not only for workers employed in direct production but also for all those who benefit from related industries, thus creating a virtuous circle of prosperity.

Protection of local culinary culture

Culinary traditions are a cultural asset that has the same dignity as architectural, pictorial and literary works of art. Just as museums and art galleries preserve paintings and sculptures, local farmers, breeders and restaurateurs preserve and pass down from generation to generation the ingredients and recipes that are part of Italian regional and national values. By choosing these products we contribute to keeping this important part of the national wealth alive.

Rising energy prices, climate change with long periods of drought alternating with violent storms and floods and the counterfeit food market are just some of the threats to the survival of quality local ingredients.
Europrodotti supports farmers and agricultural farms engaged in the organic and sustainable cultivation of aromas and spices in the awareness of contributing to the economy of local communities, the protection of the environment and the well-being of consumers.

Europrodotti: a story of flavours
The aromas and the senses