Eat Local – Gabrielle Gambina #cucinagambina

LOCAVORE /ˈləʊk(ə)vɔː(r)/: noun: a person who prefers to eat foods which are grown or farmed relatively close to the places of sale and preparation.  

Local food represents an alternative to the global food model, a model which often sees food traveling long distances, to the detriment of its nutrients, before it reaches the consumer.

Until recently, Ibiza’s food chain consisted of exchange of fresh produce between farmers and fishermen. And the majority of artisanal food products were created for private consumption. Today, the island boasts a number of wineries, cheese dairies and bakeries (using the native Xeixa grain in their bread) that supply restaurants and food markets.

The food community, however, is still relatively small and requires a boost to help sustain the small-scale producers of low impact primary ingredients. Challenges include lack of water, high input costs, limited financial assistance, strong price competition from imported produce, high distribution costs, lack of commitment from restaurants and lack of a clear label for local Ibiza products.

Farmers seek to overcome distribution challenges by working together either officially under a structured umbrella like Eco Feixes (the cooperative that represents 11 organic farms) or as a loose collective. Can Moreno, for example, has a weekly vegetable delivery scheme called Es Senallo (which is the name of the typical Ibiza straw shopping basket). Rosalina and her husband Toni have been working on the organic farm for the past 6 years. “In our shop and weekly distribution list we feature our produce alongside produce from other organically-certified farms on the island, that way we are not only offering customers a wider range of produce but also helping other farmers to increase their supply,” Rosalina explains. To further help increase production at the farm it would be ideal to have the forward commitment of one or more restaurants which would guarantee an income for the farm, help the farmers plant the necessary quantities of seeds while also allowing the chefs to have an influence on the quality and quantity of crops they require.

With over 2000 restaurants in Ibiza, it is hard to believe that only 2% of the food consumed on the island grows on the island. The majority of produce used in Ibiza’s restaurants is imported from mainland Spain (and mass produced at a fraction of the cost in Ibiza) with negative implications on the environment. Given the strong signs of increased gastronomic tourism in Ibiza, it is imperative that chefs engage in an open and honest dialogue with local farmers.

As consumers, we need to appreciate that if we want to eat healthy, fresh meals, we need to opt for seasonal produce which is grown with love by local farmers. Given the small scale production and the manual effort involved, we need to be prepared to pay a premium and fair price for this produce. We have a choice…health over wealth. The best way for us to learn about our food is by asking the retailer, the waiter in the restaurant or the market vendor, where the produce originates from.

In spite of the significant growing interest in local products, there are relatively few places where you can buy them directly from the farmer or producer. And when you look for them in shops, the labelling can be confusing, sometimes deceptive, and unclear.

Enter Farmers & Co. Made up of 14 farmers’ cooperatives from Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, Farmers & Co is a franchise model for products from the Balearic lands. It has already opened ten stores both inside and outside the archipelago with plans to roll out an additional 15 Farmers & Co retail corners over the next year.

“Farmers & Co is a concept born out of the necessity to give visibility to the local product in a coherent, commercial and, above all, attractive way. Farmers & Co is a commitment to authenticity because it is born of the producer. Without credibility Farmers & Co would not exist.” Bartolome Mercadal, Commercial Director at Farmers & Co.

Amorevore’s ambition is to create awareness about issues surrounding Ibiza’s local products and to create connections between the various stakeholders for the long-term sustainability of the island.

To connect with a local farm and/ or a producer, please get in touch with us. You will also have the opportunity to meet farmers and producers at the Amorevore Producers Market.

Photo credit @kellycunningham