HomeFood & BeverageSlow Wine Fair begins, Federico Varazzi: «Why do we talk so much...

Slow Wine Fair begins, Federico Varazzi: «Why do we talk so much about Made in Italy and not protect the quality of our wines?»

He’s right Federico Varazzi, Vice President of Slow Food Italyto focus attention on the next Slow Wine Fair 2024on soil. We think we have enough for everything, we keep consuming it with a new row of buildings, with a new warehouse, a new hotel, while all the trees and nature we lose weigh more every day on our health, on the quality of the air we breathe, on summers so hot we can’t stand them anymore.

But it’s not just that, it’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality: our soil, so rich, famously fertile, It’s dying slowlymaking the necessary “injections” of fertilizers that violently and chemically try to restore to it the strength it no longer has and which it loses from season to season thanks to the indiscriminate use of chemistry. But why does the wine fair care about the soil? For the simple reason that even the wine, or rather the bunch of grapes, like any other fruit or vegetable that comes from dry soil and is approved by chemistry, is devoid of identity, of typicality, of those unique characteristics that make it unique and great Italian wine is special: «Thanks to the life in the soil – explains Federico Varasi – each wine best represents the meaning of the word terroir. In fact, in this first 30 cm of land, 30% of all terrestrial biodiversity is preserved, a universe of symbiosis and interrelation between microorganisms, fungi and roots, which allows the vines to express exceptional specific aromas. Today, the fertility of the soil is in danger.”

And again he is right when he says that soil is the most forgotten and abused of all sustainability issues and that healthy soil is a right: «Soil, like food, must be seen as a right that must be guaranteed to all, not as a commodity that is increasingly turning agricultural and natural land into artificial areas. The edition of Slow Wine Fair 2024, the international fair of good, pure and fair wine, in Bolognafiere, from February 25 to 27, 2024. carries with it a clear message: the right of everyone to a healthy soil to “cultivate”, “dwell” and “live”. Healthy soil for healthy wine». Here’s what he told us.

How is the world’s soil health?
“Worldwide, 90% of soils are in a degraded state, 70% of all European soils are in poor health due to current management practices, pollution, urbanization and the effects of climate change. And agriculture also has its responsibilities: reckless agricultural practices and intensive monocultures have accelerated the phenomenon of degradation and erosion, when instead the natural role of agriculture should be to restore the biological richness and fertility of the soil. It is important to have an ecosystem view of the world. Less healthy products arise from degraded soil. Everything is connected, and this realization is a mantra for us at Slow Food.”

When we talk about land degradation, what do we mean?
«Degraded soil has organic matter below 1%, below which the soil is defined as being in a “state of desertification”, therefore it is a dry soil where it cannot be cultivated essentially without external results, that is, without using fertilizers, which however enrich it only with some minerals such as sodium, phosphorus and nitrogen, which, however, make it sterile in terms of all the nuances that characterize a typical soil that can, for example, produce wine from terroir. The theme is this: the need to move from conventional agriculture to regenerative agriculture that nourishes the soil with organic matter that sets it apart from all others and makes it typical again.”

Years ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations announced that there were only 60 crops left before desertification. Is progressive soil infertility a given for farmers and winemakers?
“In recent years, also by virtue of a new wine culture, farmers who are in the vineyards and monitor the situation are aware of it, from the compactness and softness of the soil, to the dryness and how it reacts to water. There is a group of producers who are paying more attention to environmental sustainability, not just theoretically, but who have in their DNA the idea of ​​farming that can be regenerative.”

What can we do to change?
“Regenerative agriculture consists of many measures, such as avoiding mechanization that breaks up the soil, removes voids, compacts it, and simply banishes earthworms, which make the soil soft and more reactive to moisture than to dryness. There is weeding, letting the soil run its course, or nitrifying with plant species like field beans by using green manures, then turning the sod over and enriching the soil naturally without fertilizers, which then enter our bodies through the aquifers and the products we eat or drink.”

Why doesn’t politics take stronger positions on such important issues?
“We live in a moment of great political schizophrenia, which on the one hand voted in favor of glyphosate for another 10 years, voted against the nature restoration law, but on the other hand praised the Italian product. Foreign countries are accused of exporting products that may be uncontrolled, but nothing is being done to move in the direction of the environmental sustainability of our production.”

Voting to keep glyphosate is blind and dangerous
“Today’s policy claims that high production can be achieved through the use of herbicides and fertilizers. But if we want to have a long horizon in production, we need to preserve the soil instead of polluting it. The big ag industry dictates the law with huge vested interests around it.”

How should we act in our role as consumers?
“The hardest thing is to change people’s habits. We at Slow Food work hard to raise awareness and knowledge of agricultural production, which helps raise collective awareness and act as a community. You can learn to read labels, buy produce at farmers markets, form buying groups, visit companies. Support virtuous producers. The data shows that there is still a part, between 7 and 8%, who do not trust organic farming, which instead is the asset that can drive the whole agriculture”.

People claim that eating organic is expensive
“There are certainly additional costs when buying organic, but there is no comparison. Fruit and vegetables from supermarkets are fragile, have no nutritional value and spoil immediately. The extra cost is offset by the quality and is an investment in health.”

What wines will we find in Slow Wine?
“We choose the wines that are identified by the manifesto of good, pure and honest wine, therefore respectful of the environment, but also those that work in the selected companies, which must have social value. These are wines, far from using herbicides that respect natural resources, that come from companies that use renewable energy. Wines without excessive oenological contrivances and wines that are also good value for money.”

Slow Wine Fair 2024 the international fair for good, pure and honest wine will be in bolognafiere from 25 to 27 february 2024.

Source: VanityFair



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