With more and more research being conducted to increase the awareness of the general public in regards to food ecology, many consumers may not actually be fully aware of what makes a producer reliable and/or efficient at maintaining such standards and values in accordance with their produce. Upon presumption, it is not that straightforward to be fully aware of what makes a product, and therefore a producer sustainable, in lines with the artisanal concept that is so deeply engrained with food.
The term ‘artisanal’ is generally utilized to describe the production methods associated with food items, and highlights the relevance of it being made by hand and typically in small batches.
Additionally, the term also puts particular emphasis on the preservation of traditional technique, which is where the concept of freshness and locality come into play. Any food produced with industrialized automation, can therefore be disregarded to be artisanal by such standardization. With particular and prevalent concern for the effects of food production on the environment, artisanal producers must intertwine their beliefs with their practice. Artisanal skills can be related to traditional skills, and when related to food seasonality, typically involves efficient manners of producing a smaller quantity of a product, yet with much higher quality, pertaining to the health of the ecology and the consumer.
Within the Maltese Islands, many producers are responding to this demand for higher quality artisanal foods, which can be attributed to the growing discrepancy between consumers and producers. As a producer, transparency is critical to maintain success with consumers, especially with today’s possibility of being increasingly informed about the issue. Many consumers are prioritizing their health and nutrition by educating themselves on such values. Artisanal, and therefore sustainable producers, are more focused on maintaining a firm set of values rather than a tangible standard that is more typical of mass production. Their values, and therefore their standards, are inevitably represented in the outcome of their products, without the need for automaticity or artificiality.
Three local producers that I believe to be highly transparent and efficient in valuing and maintaining the success and health of their produce that deserve to be flaunted are the following:
- Vincent’s Eco Estate: Located in the heart of Mgarr, located just by the Skorba Temples, the fully certified and organic farm is focused on ecologically producing a wide range of organic fruit, vegetables and additional goods such as oils and conserves, all respecting the same values. They are known for advocating against activity which negatively impacts local ecology, by a couple of well-known issues in Malta, with a few mentionable examples being soil erosion and water-table contamination and salinity.
- Friends of the Earth: Advocating for biodiversity, safeguarding rural land and supporting small-scale farmers are all major priorities. They believe that sovereignty towards food begins with policy making, therefore education. The organization firmly believes in campaigning their beliefs towards food sustainability, by delving deeper into socioeconomic issues that pertain towards the concept of promotion of alternative behaviours to maintain ecological health.
- Tal-Karmnu Farm: Located in Zebbug, the farm has a profound philosophy for re-integrating tradition into the Maltese food scene. Dating back to the 17th century, the family-run farm firmly believe in the increasing demand for artisan food stuffs in recent years, and have successfully responded to this demand by sticking to their roots and beliefs, especially when taking into account their farm-to-fork approach, which is typical of a successful artisan.
- Ta’ Mena, Gozo: The agritourism estate focuses heavily on preserving Gozitan heritage and folklore, by efficiently utilizing both land terroir and marine sources in their products. At Ta’ Mena, particular attention is given to our climate and how its differentiating weather conditions throughout the year, and how this inevitably changing factor may impact the outcome of their products, depending on instances such as rainfall, temperature, and soil fertility.
Make sure to visit these places because your taste buds will definitely love it!