After many relatively stable centuries, agriculture in our recent history has made very diverse choices, expressing an extraordinary growth in production, especially thanks to the new more productive varieties, mainly chemical fertilization, irrigation, the general use of crop protecting products and herbicides and growing mechanization. On the other hand, the consequences of increasingly ‘extractive’ production processes have been underestimated, especially their harmful effects on the environment, on workers and on the wholesomeness of production (‘externalities’), which are seriously compromising production sustainability over time. Only perhaps three fundamental parameters even demonstrate this phenomenon: the strong loss of organic matter in the soil (desertification is now a variable that must be considered), the pollution of groundwater and the impoverishment of biodiversity. One can also ascertain how the economic value at the origin of agricultural production demonstrates a universal structural and social weakness.
There’s no doubt a model that produces “commodities” subject to a price defined elsewhere, which results in the consumption of natural resources, a loss in fertility and the contamination of the environment and production has influenced the rise of global “organic food & wine” initiatives. It’s a spontaneous youth movement with a desire to respect primary resources and live with foresight for subsequent generations (“farming for the future”). Moreover, more and more authoritative research has shown how the current model of food production has no future and will soon no longer correspond to the strict logic of costs-revenues but to the criteria of overall sustainability. Recently, more and more research on human health is being undertaken and has shown that organic farming is also a preventive strategy against the frequency of certain diseases, including fertility loss in humans. The new style of ‘millennial’ consumption has become universal thanks to the instantaneous communication of social media and has promoted a conscious and ethical movement that could be defined as the biggest youth revolution since ’68. And let us not forget the cultural and historical heritage that is becoming, once more, a fundamental value to be pursued and defended.
Organic food is now so evident and widespread that even the most consolidated industry is doing its utmost to engage in the search for solutions that correspond to a new consumer awareness.
VITICULTURE AND WINE
There are many ways to produce that are different to other agricultural productions. Wine has brought culture, beauty, joy and income to many people and constitutes an economic package of extraordinary value in some historically dedicated European countries. In a few decades, viticulture has arrived in areas that are unsuitable and responsible for poorly differentiated products, often with remuneration lower than the productive convenience. Choices in viticulture that pay little attention to sustainability through the wide use of pesticides have a harmful effect on the environment and human communities. The drastic reduction in the duration of the plants demonstrates an overly invasive cultivating technique. Choices exclusively aimed at maximizing production costs-revenues have made technological interventions and additives in the cellar more and more necessary if one wants to produce an acceptable wine. For all these reasons, more or less spontaneous reactions have arisen, especially from young people, which have motivated producers to adopt more sustainable production choices, sharing these with consumers and defining themselves as the champions of courageous and ‘natural’ choices.
The term “natural” has become recognizable worldwide in a very short time, even in the absence of specific regulations. This wave seems unstoppable and I think we must be aware and grateful of these important stimuli even if they are sometimes disorderly expressed. The term ‘natural’ has transcended its true meaning and is interpreted in different ways by different people. In reality “natural” means competition, unstable equilibria and, for us, the imperfect production of food and wine.
Producing more sustainable means and techniques has become a necessary economic choice that should be better supported by legislation. It is therefore fundamental to commit ourselves to making our production processes transparent, including all environmental, social and ethical aspects, so that the consumer is really satisfied and protected in a more favorable environmental context.