* Camilla Archi, co-founder of Bella Dentro, the first project created to combat unjustified and unsustainable waste in the Italian fruit and vegetable sector
For each harvest, an Italian farmer is forced to discard part of his production (fruit or vegetables) as it does not comply with the aesthetic and dimensional standards required by the large-scale distribution market. Although quality and taste are exactly identical to those of ‘perfect’ products.
But how much does this ‘part’ weigh?
In a normal season, without particular atmospheric difficulties (drought, hail, wind, cold, heavy rain etc) this is on average 20% of the total production of the field. Physiologically, in fact, each plant produces some vegetables or fruits that are more or less small than the average, with an uneven color or with some shape or skin defect.
On the other hand, in an unstable season at an atmospheric level (which is now almost the norm) the part of the crop that is aesthetically not compliant and therefore to be discarded can reach up to 70-80%.
All this leads to two substantial problems, both heavy and unjustifiable.
The first is the unjustified waste of millions of tons of good and healthy fruit and vegetables every year (you can easily reach 7 million tons wasted compared to an average annual consumption of fruit and vegetables in Italy of 8 million tons: with what we waste we would feed another Italy).
The second is the unsustainable economic damage to farms that do not receive any compensation from the processing industry for this part of production or receive a very low and insufficient compensation to cover production costs.
It is starting from the awareness of this problem and the senselessness of its causes that in 2017, my partner Luca and I decided to quit our respective jobs and to create Bella Dentro - il gusto del buon senso. In fact, we have invented an alternative supply chain, parallel to the existing one, dedicated only to those aesthetically imperfect products (which we call ‘beautiful inside’) and which has the dual purpose of giving them the right value to these products, remunerating the same time the work of the farmer.
The supply chain starts with our direct purchase of the products that are beautiful but only inside at a fair price from agricultural producers throughout Italy. Once we arrive in our warehouse in Milan, a part of the fruit and vegetables are sold fresh in our first shop in via Pergolesi 21 in Milan (designed by Tour De Fork studio and inaugurated on October 20). The other part, on the other hand, is destined for our food processing laboratory in Codogno, managed and run by L’Officina, a social cooperative dedicated to the training and employment of people with autism and cognitive delays. Here fresh fruits and vegetables are dried to be eaten as natural and sustainable snacks / cheaps or transformed into traditional jams and juices also sold in our shop, and also on the e-commerce channel of our new site which will go online shortly.
Fighting waste means reducing it at its root, not just redistributing it. This is why we firmly believe that sustainability is undisputed, as long as it also includes economic sustainability for all the players in the supply chain involved. First of all the producer, that is the one who, because of this waste, most of all suffers a heavy and unjustifiable economic damage.
Virtuous behavior – ecologically, ethically and socially – will never become practice if it fails to ensure economic sustainability for all those affected by it.
Cover photo and above, Scarpetta, the collection for the table inspired, in name and decoration, by the homonymous popular gesture. Designed by Astrid Luglio e Ester Bianchi, the dishes are distinguished by the familiar and vaguely retro aesthetic that refers to the Italian tradition. The new line, in continuous evolution, was previewed at Funky Table on the occasion of 5 Vie D’N’A during Milano Design City.