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The Economics of Farming and Producing in Tuscany

June 16th, 2016 by srfrie19

 

All over the world there is not a lot of money in farming, so one has to know what they are getting into when starting a farm. The business is risky, requires a lot of hard work, and may not always be rewarding. This brings up the problem of economics in production of a human necessity, food. Do you treat animals morally? Do you grow food organically? When producing do you focus on the quality of the product or just to get money?

Animals

The Podere Le Fornaci cheese producers run an organic farm in Greve in Chianti. They started out small with just 20 goats but have now increased to 100 goats. They always put their animals first and strongly believe that if the animals live well, they will be healthier. They make their own hay, but also let the goats roam freely for part of the day in order for them to eat the healthier, fresh grass. The producers milk the goats twice a day. Each female goat produces 3-4 liters of milk a day and it takes 24 hours for the cheese to be ready for sale.

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Kids at Podere Le Fornaci

This business requires much hard work and attention, but gives off very little reward. If a male kid is born, the producers automatically lose 500 euros. The male kids consume the milk that could be used for making cheese and are sold or killed when old enough because they don’t have any further use in producing milk. The producers had to come up with a way to create more profit; therefore they decided “rent” their animals for three months during the winter. A renter would pay 100 euros to financially support the farm and in return will get 110 euros worth of products from the farm. This allows the producer to be economically stable in the off season and to get more profits in the long run.

Dario Cecchini, a very famous butcher in Panzano, is currently constructing a project where he is raising chianina cows for their full life and then using their meat. A chianina’s life span is about 13 years, so Dario loses a lot of money feeding these animals for such a long time. Dario will only profit from their meat once they die. The purpose of this project is to raise the animals the right way and to treat them morally. Dario’s mission is to respect and to use every part of the animal.

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Chianina cows in Dario’s Project

Maremmana cows on the national park lands in Grosseto are not the best cows for meat, but are still raised for butchering. They are not used in many parts of Tuscany for many reasons. All maremmana cows have horns, which translates into money loss when selling the animals for meat. If the animal weighs 1000 kilos, only 500 kilos can be used for meat. This can be compared with other breeds of cows that can produce 700-800 kilos worth of meat. Also, maremmana cows have very large stomachs, which is not good for butchering. However, they create an economic advantage in the Grosseto region because they can survive off the land while roaming, which other breeds are not able to do. Therefore, no money has to be spent for feeding them.

In his article, “Animal Liberation,” Peter Singer mentions speciesism, which concerns the human animal relationship and occurs when humans put their lives above animals, and utilitarianism, which values bringing about less sufferance and more pleasure for both humans and animals. Both the producers at Podere Le Fornaci and Dario Cecchini want to eliminate speciesism and treat their animals with respect. By treating their animals morally right, they raise excellent products and still getting pleasure from eating. The butteri that take care of the maremmana cows are respecting the animals by keeping them alive even though they are not good for butchering. Also, they are keeping the tradition of the land alive.

Wines

It is extremely risky to open a winery. A new owner has to acknowledge that they will most likely lose money in their first years of opening a winery since it takes a while for the trees to grow into quality producers and wines can’t be made and sold right away. The wine making process varies in time depending on the type of wine being made, but it surely doesn’t happen overnight. In order to make some money, wine producers can harvest the grapes and sell them right away, but this yields little profit.

One method of raising a vineyard is organically, which is really pushed by the government in Tuscany. The government gives out subsidies of 500 to 800 euros for every hector of organically grown vineyards. The agronomist that spoke with me believes that this subsidy is no longer useful because it has been proven that producing organically is not more expensive. Producing organically is now a reality and everyone can do it. The vineyard must find an economic balance in producing organically.

Nittardi is an organic vineyard in Castellina in Chianti that I visited. They spray copper and sulfur in order to prevent parasites instead of spraying chemicals. Although this sprayin method is time consuming, it is less expensive than spraying chemicals. When it rains, the producers have to decide on spraying the plants. They usually spray 12 times during the summer and spend 500 euros per hector on protecting the vineyard for a year. Not using chemicals also protects the soil for years to come. The producers at Nittardi agree with Steigler’s argument in his article “Take Care” that if plants do well, consumers will benefit too.

Chianti Classico wines must be produced with at least 80% san giovese grapes and must come from the Chianti region of Tuscany. This geographic indicator is worth a lot when selling wines and is similar to a copyright. Many consumers look for the rooster on the label knowing the quality of the wine will be superb. The geographical indicator exemplifies that the land these grapes are grown in produce a high quality of grapes just based on the region they are grown in. Another wine from a different region that is produced with the same variety of grapes with the same methods of production could not be called Chianti Classico and will not taste like the one made in the Chianti region. By buying a Chianti Classico wine, it is known that one will get a high quality wine that is worth the money, since these wines are usually expensive. Also, Chianti Classico wines have to go through testing and be approved before being bottled, which is why these wines are sought after.

Advertising is essential in the sale of wines. In order to gain the highest income with the label, the producer has to have a market. Some farmers only take care of the grapes and find it difficult to do sales. It could be profitable to get to know consumers in order for them to know the high quality of the product they are interested in buying. They will know what they are consuming.

Small Businesses Artisanship vs. Big Business Beautification

Le Cinciole is a small winery in Panzano that takes pride in its artisanship and the role their owners play in creating the wine. The owners of the winery have contact with the grapes and makes sure to pick the highest quality grapes to put in their wines. However, a more bigger and flashy winery, Petra, in Maremma, focuses more on appearance. They have the latest, most advanced technologies and a more modern look. They try to look clean and polished to the furthest extent. It took 100 million euros to build Petra, but it loses money each year because there are a lot of expenditures. Le Cinciole makes 200,000 to 300,000 euros per year, but they are not looking to expand much bigger. The artisanship in Le Cinciole’s wine making may go unnoticed because it is so small.

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Petra architecture

Global Food System

Food is a human necessity and the best way to feed the human population is through a global food system, which Sandler explains in his article “Food Ethics”. The global food system allows places to always have food, since some places can’t grow food all year round and allows for a higher variety of available foods through importing produce. There is an economic advantage for some producers because they can focus on specializing on one good and can know they will still profit. However, there is an economic disadvantage because producers and countries can no longer decide the prices of their own goods. People on the other side of the world decide the prices of products based on their demand. In the end, it is essential to remember that quality of product and life is most important.

Every Part Counts

June 12th, 2016 by srfrie19

One of my favorite meals that I have had so far in Italy was on our second day in Panzano when our group went to Dario Cecchini’s restaurant for dinner. We got to experience eating many parts of the cow that most of us have probably never ate before. We ate muzzle, braised meats, rosemary up the ass, roast beef, ragu on toast, boiled beef along with Tuscan style bread, beans, vegetables, and olive oil cake. Our placemats showed which part of the cow where each dish came from, which can be related to Berry’s text, “Pleasure of Eating.” In this reading, Berry should form a relationship with our food and to not be blind consumers. We learned that Dario gets his cows from Spain, uses only the freshest, locally grown produce, and makes sure to use all parts of the cow.

Dario’s goal as a butcher is to maintain a sense of morality towards the animals. He believes that every part of the animal should be used. If he were to waste the animal, he would be taking advantage of the animal and it would be considered selfish. This relates to Singer’s concept of speciesism, in which humans value their life over animals lives. Dario doesn’t want this to be the case which can be proven by his project with the long life chianina cows. He is experimenting with chianina cows to care for them until they die and then use their meat. Although, these cows have not been eaten yet, he makes sense to butcher the animals that were taken care of properly. His goal is not about health, but about getting the most out of the animals he butchers.

Besides the fact that anyone can walk into the butcher shop and get free bread and wine at pretty much anytime of the day, I have always felt a family atmosphere being at Dario’s. All of the tables are family style, so they are long and many different groups would be sat at the same table. Although I never got to experience this, I think it is an awesome concept and is one aspect that makes Dario’s restaurant so special.

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The place mat showing every part counts

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Roast Beef at Dario’s restaurant

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Chianina cows at Dario’s Project