Three young professionals in Italy are reviving the forgotten flavors of ancient and endangered fruits and vegetables.
TuttiFrutti, led by Francesco Bagni, Giovanni Giacomelli, and Chiara Valli, strives to promote biodiversity by connecting producers of uncommon fruits and vegetables with agrocuochi or agri-chefs who can turn them into jams and other products to be sold online or at local farmers markets and other small-scale vendors.
“Reintroducing variety enriches the agricultural territory and diversifies local production,” TuttiFrutti’s introductory video states. “Ancient varieties also enrich our culinary experiences with forgotten flavors.”
According to TuttiFrutti, out of the estimated 10,000 to 80,000 ingestible plant varieties in the world, only 150 are grown on a large scale, and 29 of these account for 90 percent of what people eat each day. Standardization and excessive production, the founders argue, have led to an industrialization of flavors and the disappearance of ancient, flavorful varieties.
TuttiFrutti works to find funding for the farmers and agri-chefs; they also provide training and certification for the chefs. The initiative operates in the central regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche and was named a winner of the Sodalitas Challenge, which funds young entrepreneur’s sustainable ideas. TuttiFrutti was also picked up by H-Farm, an Italian venture incubator that invests in small business ideas.
TuttiFrutti explains, “To [preserve ancient varieties of fruits and vegetables,] we want to extend the market for products created from varieties of produce that are endangered, and, as much as possible, safeguard and conserve these varieties in a system that is economically sustainable for all workers playing a part in our objective.”