What does innovation mean to Slow Food? Does the Lucanian agriculture and agri-food sector have elements of social innovation?
FRANCESCO LINZALONE, a trustee of Slow Food of Matera, enjoys his evenings sitting in the centre of one of the most vibrant squares of Matera, Piazza Sedile. "Our region is making great progress towards offering food which is typical of the area. A typical dish preserves not only the taste, but also the memory of what it was and contains plant varieties, and breeds made using the indigenous techniques of cultivation and farming. Traditions are kept alive along with the wisdom of the old methods. Linzalone complains that Lucanian tradition sometimes loses its originality and tends towards standardisation -- fortunately not too often. All these elements represent, without doubt, the true ‘innovation.’ Many agri-food farms are looking to the past by recovering the uniqueness of their region and its local knowledge and reinterpreting in a contemporary way. They can become examples to encourage, involve and follow.
What was Slow Food Management of Matera’s experiences of social and cultural innovation?
Slow Food Management was established in Matera in the 1990s and has a new life thanks to the efforts of its trustees, who love the region and its peculiarities. The main purpose and mission of Slow Food is to popularise the need for good food which is clean and fair. To celebrate the first Slow Food Day in Matera, it equipped taste laboratories. These regional facilities were built to rediscover the typical products of the area, and all the traditional foods of our region – even those that had been lost. Slow Food Management is meeting farms and agri-food farms which follow the logic of spreading local and healthy food as an expression of the collective culture of the region. It is important to create synergies and networks within the area. Participation in the Land of Stories project follows this logic of sharing and growing based on an idea of common territorial development.
What are the next steps for Slow Food Management of Matera?
Slow Food Management works in the traditional way of Matera and it is focusing on young farmers. By connecting them with the regional cuisine sector and signing them up to "The Cooks of the Alliance" initiative, it helps the transmission of culture and knowledge. This reveals the lesser known agricultural and agri-food heritage; the Lucanian way, which has simplicity and essentiality as its main characteristic. The many foods available prove that a Lucanian peasant and rural culture is one that can be developed and that we need to make others discover our region. Under the initiative, "More market less Super"we surveyed the dynamics of local markets in the manufacturer-dealer-to-consumer chain to solicit and encourage local producers and to create consumers who were more aware.