Agriculture: since the first prehistoric cereals farming to the last agritech solutions of our days and times, it evolved in parallel with humankind.
Particularly, during the nineteenth century, agriculture gradually started to become part of capitalism as some pleasantries switched from mere subsistence agriculture to selling the surplus products, then investing the profit in buying machinery and equipment, renting extra land and hire workers to increase the productivity and have more income and so on.
Step by step we arrived at the agricultural business of our times, ultra-modern farms which grow and process niche products with cutting-edge technology then sell them through e-commerce platforms and collect customer feedback on Facebook. Let’s discover some of these state-of-the-art agribusinesses located in Italy.
FROM ANDES TO BRIANZA
One former colleague from Peru loved to repeat me that in his country, at kids birthdays, they do not drink Coke or other sodas but rather the Chicha Morada: “Tony, the funniest things is that because of this drink all the kids then have a small moustache” In fact the chicha morada, which might be roughly translated as “Blue corn drink” due to its starch content and the dark color, is undoubtedly very good but it might cause also flashy stains, considering the people in Mesozoic era used its extract even as colorant.
Now, the Blue Corn, after been consumed in South-America since Incas times, is ready to conquer Italy and the world thanks to the passion of Azienda Agricola Frettoli of Cornate D’Adda, close to Milan, whose motto is: Tradition and Innovation.
The farm, born in ‘800 on the shore of Adda River for cereals farming, can without doubt be ranked as one the most innovative Italian agribusinesses; in close collaboration with Università di Milano, the Frettoli Bros crossed the Incas blue maize with local ancient varieties of corn developing a variety of blue corn able to grow in the cold of Pianura Padana maintaining its high level of anthocyanin, useful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Once harvested, the grains are exclusively stone-ground to avoid depletion of their precious nutritional values, and with the so obtained flour, the Frettoli guys, in synergy with excellent pastry chefs, have developed a wide range of biscuits and other products such as blue-corn meal flour, all gluten-free, and some even vegan. All good, all healthy. In Italian, Buono e Sano.
I had the honor to attend the opening of the new gluten free laboratory and chat with the Commercial Director, Mr. Vito Rana; this 2018 for Frettoli looks really exciting because of some challenging projects such as the gluten free certification within February which will allow to penetrate the niche market for celiac disease holders and the presentation on the next spring of the first biscuit certified vegan gluten free, to conquer the world.
FROM JAPAN TO INSUBRIA
*company name omitted
Different products but same passion for one more innovative Azienda Agricola located in Vergiate, Varese area, focused on Shiitake mushrooms.
“Feel your nature” is the motto, while “Environment, Wellness and Freedom” is the philosophy which inspired and motivated the company founders, to start their mission in 2013. After remediating the area from heavy metals and pollution and starting to grow the famous Japan-originated mushroom, the guys got ahead becoming the first agribusiness to put mushrooms at the disposal of man and the environment. Not just the growth and sale of Shiitake but also the development of mushrooms derived smart food product and strains as the creation of their own Green Community involved many challenging projects focused on mycology study, environment preservation, sensibilization about the mushrooms importance for life and health and urban mushrooms gardening.
To accomplish its mission the company created three different botanical gardens in Piedmont and Liguria, obviously focused on mushrooms, in an organic way.
Its Shiitake mushrooms, selected among 100 different strains, thanks to the innovative patented growing technique, contains a higher level of Potassium, Vitamins D and B5 than common Shiitake and other mushrooms, more than being a considerable source of Lentinan and Eritaderin, two molecules of wellness.
The future of food pass also through the mushrooms.
FROM AUSTRALIA TO SICILY
From the Swiss border let’s move to the extreme South of Italy, precisely at Etna’s volcano slopes, location of Azienda Agricola CRM, proudly founded and managed by Massimino Bros. The two Sicilian brothers can be undoubtedly considered the Italian pioneers of what they fiercely called and branded as “Caviale dell’Etna” (Etna’s caviar), the Microcitrus Australasica or Finger-Lime. This gastronomic deliciousness, widely used by the most renowned top chefs in crafting creative, tasty and catchy fish dishes and so beloved by foodies and gourmets all over the world, thanks to Massimino's passion is now available even in Italy, farm to table, thus avoiding the huge journeys from Australia through infinite intermediaries which, besides inflating the price, might even prejudice the quality of this deliciousness.
The CRM products range includes 9 species of this amazing fruit which includes the Faustime, the biggest and available the whole year, the Pink Ice with notes of almonds, clementine and peppery, the Jali Red with plenty of taste red-pink shiny pearls, the Byron Sunrise, one of the most beloved because of its high red pearls with scents of juniper and geranium and, last but not least, the Ricks Red, with bloody red pearls similar to salmon caviar. Different colors, different tastes but same exceptional features for the 5 species: antiseptic, aphrodisiac, anti-aging, corroborating, diuretic, digestive, rich in folic acid, potassium, vitamins C and B6.
Besides Microcitrus Australasica fruits and plants sale, the infinite Massimino’s bros passion and creativity drove CRM to craft even, “Caviarcream” the first jam of the fruit cinnamon scented and, brace yourselves, Mr. Corrado Massimino announced the plan to launch in these days “Caviamar” their amazing Fingerlime liquor.
I’m sure this isn’t over.
FROM ITALY ALL OVER THE WORLD
What if I told you you might choose a tree, adopt and let it grow easily by your smartphone, then enjoy its fruits for real? This is exactly what it does the last awesome project I want to write about, the last frontier of digital agriculture, BIOFARM, an innovative and disruptive “shared agribusiness startup,” founded by Osvaldo de Falco and Giuseppe Cannavale. The two young founders, back to Italy after having studied abroad, quickly realized the biggest actual issue of agriculture, as discussed in this article: the long supply chains which, more than prejudice the quality of fruits and veggies, inflate the prices for end-users meanwhile dropping the pay to the peasantry.
To pass over this problem, they developed this cutting-edge technology which short the farm-to-table supply chain, allowing you to pick your favorite tree, to be chosen among Apricot, Orange, Lemon, Clementine, 3 Apple species, Olive, and Pear, watch how it grows and then choose whether to harvest the fruits yourself or receive them at home. The non plus ultra of sustainability, the social farming at its best, 100% organic, at your full disposal. The business offers also the interesting opportunity to donate the tree as gift to a newborn, a relative or a friend and can rely actually on 1600 adopted trees and 1200 “digital peasantries,” while the projects for the future will include the availability of more fruit species and the veggies, more interactions between farmer and user, improvement of the logistics and the packaging. Undoubtedly these two fellas don’t want to stop.
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