Campagna Amica Market
On November 8, 2019, M.A Food Studies students visited the Campagna Amica Market on Via Tiburtina. Stretching about 500 square meters, the market has 25 stands where farmers from the Lazio region can sell their products to local consumers every Friday and Saturday. During the visit, students had the chance to speak with Renato, the director of the market.
Renato explained that the market adheres to a zero-kilometer rule, which ensures that the products sold at the markets are produced no more than 200 kilometers away. To confirm this is followed, representatives from Campagna Amica go to the farms to see what is produced, and checks that the farmer sells only the items that they saw in the market. This ensures that no items outside of the Lazio region are sold at the market.
In addition to the zero-kilometer rule, there is also an importance placed on clear labeling for products sold at the market. In products that involve more than one ingredient, the label must state the origins of each ingredient. For example, students saw that a label for cheese sold in the market clearly stated that the milk used in its' production was of Italian origin. This allows for transparency for the consumer, and ensures that the products are undoubtedly regional and Italian.
Students not only learned about the inner-workings of the market but also saw the consumer-producer relationships that took place. Consumers could ask the producers questions, get recipes for the ingredients being sold, and interact with other consumers. Unlike the supermarket, consumers at the farmer's market spend an average of two and a half hours exploring and enjoying the experience while establishing community.
This sense of community is another benefit that students saw at the Tiburtina market. Renato revealed that food that is not sold by the end of the weekend is often donated through churches, which not only helps those in need but also combats food waste. The market also has a space that will become a center for children's education and special workshops so people can learn more about the regional products. Additionally, they are eliminating all plastics through the use of biodegradable bags and a vending machine that sells coffee in paper cups and water in cans.
Overall, M.A. Food Studies students were enthusiastic about the Campagna Amica's efforts to preserve local and regional products through the farmer’s markets. Not only do they allow consumers to access regional, seasonal products, but they also allow producers and consumers to connect is ways that are beneficial for all involved.
Campagna Amica Headquarters
On November 18, 2019, M.A. Food Studies students visited the Campagna Amica office in Rome. The Campagna Amica Foundation was founded in 2008 and supports Italian producers and consumers through direct sales, ecotourism, and eco-sustainability. Currently, there are nearly eight million people involved in the different initiatives that the Campagna Amica sponsors.
One focus of the foundation is to educate consumers on the origins of their food through learning about what products are regional and seasonal. For example, students were told that some people come to the Campagna Amica markets expecting dirty eggs because they believe that dirty is a sign of freshness. However, in the case of the eggs, whether or not they have been washed does not determine their quality. These situations are what the Foundation aim to resolve by educating consumers about the production processes of the food, the regional choices, and how to use those choices in recipes.
Additionally, Campagna Amica acts as a political force that fights for the preservation and certification of Italian food and the integrity of Italian biodiversity. The Foundation believes in transparent labeling of all products, where the origins of each ingredient is listed. Currently in Europe, the origins of ingredients that are less than 10% of the total product can be omitted. In working to have origins on all labels, the foundation hopes to increase the transparency of production practices for consumers.
Another question that Campagna Amica asks is what is the true value of food? Is it the price, taste, the production practices, or how the producers and those involved are treated? For the Foundation, the value of food is all of the above, and all aspects of production should be considered by the consumer when making decisions about what to purchase. Through their initiatives, Campagna Amica hopes to ensure consumers are informed enough to make choices that not only benefit themselves but also all who are involved.
One way that consumers can make these informed choices are at the Campagna Amica farmer's markets. These markets give producers the opportunity to sell their products directly without being taxed. This allows the farmers to put the money back into their production processes and to invest in their farms. Not only are the markets beneficial to consumers because they can purchase and taste seasonal and regional products, but they allow producers to directly make money that will enable them to better their production practices.
In agreement with the themes from the Food Studies courses, the Campagna Amica Foundation's slogan "Il Cibo Giusto (The Right Food)," highlights the need to be sustainable in social and environmental terms and encourages both producers and consumers to make decisions that ensure the well-being of all.
Author: Amanda Wakefield