With less intermediaries, quality products would be cheaper, says the Garraf Slow-food President

Valentí Mongay, President of Garraf’s ‘Slow-food’ and coordinator of the 'Km 0' initiative, has said that by reducing the number of intermediaries, there would be more affordable quality products available, that would be respect seasonal products. He also explain the ‘Flavour Ark’ initiative to preserve local species.

Gastroteca.cat / CNA / Ignacio Portela

April 13, 2011 04:16 PM

Barcelona (Gastroteca.cat). - The Slow-food movement and the 'KM 0' initiative have both prioritised the close link between producers and consumers. They have called for a reduction in the number of intermediaries, in order to get the best quality out of seasonal products. Valentí Mongay, combines his work as chef of 'La Salseta' Restaurant with his job as President of 'Slow-food' in the Garraf county (Southern Barcelona) and as coordinator of the 'Km 0' initiative. Mongay is a staunch defender of quality food products and believes that they do not have to be expensive. "Sometimes they call us 'eco-snobs'. They could not be further from the truth" stated the chef. Mongay has explained that by supporting local products, intermediaries are taken out of the production process, therefore reducing consumer prices. Products "are not necessarily more expensive than the others".

This is the basis of the ‘Km 0 initiative’. It is a proposal to defend the use of local products in restaurants, and asks them to work only with Slow-food producers. According to Mongay, this guarantees that products keep their optimal properties "because it has not travelled many miles, and it has not stayed in a cold storage room for days" stressed Mongay, who defends that restaurants dealing with Slow-Foods have the guarantee that the product was "picked at its best moment when the product was in its best shape".

Distance between producers and consumers, growing larger every year

The ‘Km 0 initiative’ and the Slow-food movement are both in clear contrast to the regular flux of products in our actual chain of production. Restaurants from the 'Km 0 initiative' can only buy from local producers. According to Mongay, this improves both the quality of the food and the health of consumers, as this proximity shortens the distance between producers and consumers. It has grown year on year as new intermediaries are added to the production chain, which "causes people to ignore the schedule of the seasons. So now we are consuming aubergines in winter and cherries and grapes all year long".

A ‘Flavour Ark’ to save endangered species in Catalonia

This change in the season's schedule is a possible reason behind the loss of numerous species in many places, including Catalonia. Mongay has pointed out that the “paparina” cabbage and the “wiggy” endive  are examples of these endangered species, as well as the Malvasía grape from Sitges and the Rooster from Penedès. So "in order to make people aware of their plight" Mongay claims that the members of the Slow-food movement are fighting against this process by vaulting these kinds of products in what is called the ‘Flavour Ark’.

"Fish 'Dutch Auctions' are not enough to pay the boat's oil"

Not only is the agricultural sector finding it difficult to sell products,  the fisheries sector is doing its best to weather the storm. According to Mongay, "80% of all the fish consumed in Catalonia comes from fish markets from outside".  Local fishermen sometimes have problems selling their fish, especially because the fish ‘Dutch auction’ (a selling process that drops the price) lowers prices and sometimes “they don’t have enough to pay the boat’s oil”. They are therefore "forced to return these fish back to the sea, dead and useless", because they loose money selling them. And that is why Slow-Food is trying to promote the use of these kinds of fish, and "convey to the public and to the consumer, what to do with it".