(Italiano) La natura sociale dell’apicoltura

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Cassava in Roero

Tucupi, cassava flour and tarubá. On the background, the farmsted in Pocapaglia, Cuneo, Piemonte, Italy. October 2015 (c) Luca Fanelli
Tucupi, cassava flour and tarubá. On the background, the farmsted in Pocapaglia, Cuneo, Piemonte, Italy. October 2015 (c) Luca Fanelli

The cassava (Manihot esculenta) doesn’t grow up in the Roero region (Italy), but for one night was the star in Pocapaglia. Here, a group of student of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, hosted by Konstantin and Karen, could taste the true Amazonian cassava flour, the hot tucupi sauce and the tarubá.

All the three products are so important in the Amazon gastronomy, and so unknown outside this region – in particular, the tucupi and the tarubá.

The tasting. Pocapaglia, Cuneo, Piemonte, Italy. October 2015 (c) Luca Fanelli
The tasting. Pocapaglia, Cuneo, Piemonte, Italy. October 2015 (c) Luca Fanelli

New car, a good deal for the environment?

The current scandal involving Volkswagen, among other things, add a new chapter on the long lasting dispute between who say that it’s more environmentally friendly to buy a new low emission car, and the ones who say it’s better to keep the old one.

The points are:
– in the whole life of a car, which part of emissions come from the manufacture of the car (and its disposal);
– how many hour/ km will you drive your car during its whole life;
– how much the new car is more efficient than the previous one.

The first point it’s a matter of debate. One of the better articles on the issue (2006), by Leo Hickman, cited two studies, one saying that manufacturing represents the 10% of the whole-life emissions, the other the 45% (see http://bit.ly/1VulfJD). Another research, cited here, says it’s 12%. The point, here, it’s that the manufacturing process is too complex to be assessed, too many variable are involved, and so, for us, lacks the first pillar for a wise decision.

The second point is a matter of mathematics: as the manufacturing and disposal emissions are fixed, their percentage is lower as much as I use my car. If manufacturing emissions represents the 10% of the whole-life emissions if I drive for 140.000 km, they represents 19% if I drive 70.000 km (using the first research cited by Hickman).

The third point seemed to be rock-solid: emissions are steadily and significantly reducing from one generation of the car to another. But — and then we come back to the VW story, that uncovered a broader problem — the improvements are likely to happen only in the laboratory, as Greg Archer, of Transport and environment points out clearly in an interview on the BBC Business Daily: “over the last 3 years there hasn’t been any improvement in the efficiency of cars on the road”.

Even more important: which pace the improvements must have to justify buying a new car more often? I’ve tried, in a very simple way, to compare two people that, over 35 years, buy 4 or 7 cars, using the already mentioned researches data: the difference in emissions between the two is irrelevant!

See the spreadsheet.

A visit in Prainha to know the “state of the art” of the piracui production

Fisherman with acari. Prainha 2015. Picture by Tamara Saré
Fisherman with acari. Prainha 2015. Picture by Tamara Saré

Since 2008 I have struggled to find ways to support the piracui producers of Prainha, Pará, Brasil. I spent the past August in the Amazon region. So, I decided to visit them. I was absent from the region since 2010 and I wanted to update my information. Beside that, my idea was to record some interviews, in order to tell with the fishermen’s own words their harsh and delicate work.

To organise the visit I counted on my friend Ivonete, who, together with me, is responsible for the piracui in the Slow Food’s Ark of taste. We created a little team, with Revelino e Flodivaldo, da Colônia de Pescadores, Tamara, photographer and friend, Karen, who’s studying at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and, by the way, is my daughter.

We gathered many and high-quality information, and some great testimonies, I’ll try to put in this blog or elsewhere.

I already was, but I’m now more convinced that for the piracui producers is urgent to produce less with the same income. This means that who now produces an hight-quality piracui would continue to do that; who doesn’t, has to increase the quality. And the quality must be appreciated. Only organisation among the fishermen and the right incentives from the local buyers could do that.

This change is not only important for the fishermen livelihood, but also for the environment, since the over-production of piracui is threatening the very base of it, the fish called acari1.

The proble isn’t demand: piracui has a strong, and maybe growing, regional market (Santarém, Manaus, Belém, maybe Fortaleza): nearly 10 tons of piracui leave Prainha every year; as everyone who already prepared some dish with piracui, this is a huge amount!

But in this market there aren’t incentives to promote quality. The producer who makes a good piracui generally receives some extra money from the local buyer, but his piracui is sold to the consumer mixed with low-quality piracui. And the local consumer couldn’t choose between a “good” or “bad” piracui, or even doesn’t know at all there is a “good” and “bad” piracui.

Beside that, though there are some very clear point about “what process makes a good piracui” , many uncertainties remain, above all regarding preservation. And it’s very important that the issue of food safety comes “from below” and not “top-down”. Today, no sanitary control exists; but, sooner or later, something would come. And if that it is put in place in a way that doesn’t take in account the local specificities, many producers will be hit — and maybe some of the best producers. There is in Brazil a very interesting debate about adapting the sanitary rules to small-producers (see a news about that, in Portuguese), but we still have a long way 2.

You’ll find a more detailed account of the outcome of the visit here (text in Portuguese).

I really hope that some actors could become interested in the matter and engage themselves in supporting local people in the way for a more sustainable production of piracui, that could also help to rise the living standards in the region.

The whole team. From left to right: Revelino, Ivonete, Flodivaldo, Luca, Karen e Tamara. Rio Vira Sebo. Prainha, PA, Brasil. 2015 (c) Luca Fanelli
The whole team. From left to right: Revelino, Ivonete, Flodivaldo, Luca, Karen e Tamara. Rio Vira Sebo. Prainha, PA, Brasil. 2015 (c) Luca Fanelli


  1. There are other causes for the decline, but the over-catch is one of the more this is probably very relevant.
  2. Also the 2006 FAO/ WHO document Guidance to governments on the application of HACCP in smalland/or less-developed food businesses points in this direction.

(Italiano) Sistema di produzione agricolo e patrimonio culturale immateriale

” width=”300″ height=”225″ /> [/caption]La trasformazione in patrimonio culturale immateriale del sistema di produzione agricolo dei quilombo è stato l’argomento di una delle tavole rotonde (cfr. http://bit.ly/1Kjf7fU); questo processo è molto importante ed interessante, nell’ottica della valorizzazione di un sistema di produzione che rischia di perdersi, sia per pressioni esterne (principalmente gli impedimenti legali all’uso del fuoco), sia interne.

E’ significativo che, dei 180 beni immateriali individuati nell’Inventário Cultural de Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira, il primo ad essere stato scelto per avanzare nel processo di riconoscimento, sia il sistema di produzione agricolo tradizionale.

Le implicazioni e le sfide della costruzione dell’inventario della cultura immateriale dei quilombo della Vale do Ribeira sono state oggetto del mio intervento al XXXVII Convegno internazionale di americanistica (Perugia, maggio 2015), di cui riporto qui sotto le slide.
” width=”300″ height=”225″ /> [/caption]A patrimonialização do sistema de produção agricola dos quilombos foi assunto de uma das mesas redondas (cfr. http://bit.ly/1Kjf7fU); este processo é muito importante e interessante, visando a valorização de um sistema de produção que está em risco de extinção, quer por pressões externas (principalmente os impedimentos legais ao uso do fogo), quer internas.

É relevante que, dos 180 bens imateriais levantados no Inventário Cultural de Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira, o escolhido para avançar no processo de patrimonialização, seja o sistema de produção agrícola tradicional.

O sentido e os desafios da construção do inventário da cultura imaterial dos quilombos do Vale do Ribeira foram o assunto da minha apresentação no XXXVII Congresso Internacional de Americanística (Perugia, maio de 2015). Em baixo os eslaides.