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  • Writer's pictureGiordano

A normal day

As I set off to meet the administrators of my municipality, many questions come to mind. The first is: "Who makes me do this? At this time I should be among my olive trees, in the still quiet of January, to clean up brambles and anything else ... ". But the answer is clear and impressive. The risk for me, and for so many small farmers, is that of not being able to stand among our olive trees anymore. Money is known, sooner or later finishes and if we fail to pay these old friends of ours will be left alone, we will soon be forced to leave them in a choice of the kind we or them. I think and think ... How is it possible that at a meeting in a municipal council hall, in an event organized with the patronage of the municipality itself, there is no one of the municipal administration? I was disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised. I can no longer be so after years of complete silence. It's everywhere like this. In Italy between xylella and fluctuating production due mainly to the aging of our groves, we are still chasing the quantity and the cost reduction. A 100% Italian oil on offer for € 2.99 per liter has just been released on the shelf. I wonder, "How is it possible?" But even in this case, the answer is clear, lucid. The slow suicide of the olive oil world continues inexorably until the last bottler has died out. Numbers, trends, forecasts, investments, and collapses; oil is no longer food, oil is a commodity listed on the stock exchange. I go back to thinking about my olive trees, I see them wave their silver, clinging to the dry stone walls built by my grandparents and the grandparents of my grandparents. It is unthinkable that there is no solution; Is it possible that only I can see this beauty? Soon I will meet the mayor, deputy mayor, councilor for agricultural policies. I will have to ask him why they were not there, I will have to understand what their project is for our agriculture. All things I already know. Nobody cares about two crazy people who insist on picking olives on the terraces. Today, business is done by buying olives elsewhere at bargain prices, taking them to our Reggellese mills and then processing and packing them with labels that represent our dry stone walls, the same ones that no one builds anymore. "Is it possible that it's just me thinking about those who will come after us?" Our grandparents left us fruit trees that still feed us, walls that still support our territory, they left us proverbs that teach us the really important things and a future that today is the present. What do we leave for our children, grandchildren? Today in a society that travels at the speed of light, the present has already passed and the future does not exist. As I ride my bike in this ancient Roman road, once a garden of olive trees, fruits, and life, I realize that I have become accustomed to this patchwork of olive groves, poorly kept and abandoned olive trees. "Fortunately, there are hobbyists and retired men!", I once said to myself. Then I decided to make the crazy choice to be a farmer as a profession. Ten years ago I was 30 and I had all the energy needed to challenge the world. Today I am no longer so sure that these diehards of part-time agriculture are a blessing for our territory. Of course, without them, there would probably be even more neglect and abandonment ... or maybe not. I mean, in years like this, where the harvest was exceptionally abundant, everyone started harvesting olives. Passing, on Sundays, you could see whole families who during the lunch break set on the tractor cart or between the rows of olive trees. It seemed to be back in time. But the dream did not last long, just enough time to shake the most heavily loaded olive trees. Then everyone returned to their place, in offices, shops, at home, with a nice load of strictly unfiltered oil. And this is where, as we say, the “donkey falls”. We "professional" peasants have been overwhelmed by a real low-cost tsunami of oil: 9, 8, but also € 7 per liter. For these people, oil is not a source of income and the most important thing is to be able to get rid of it as soon as possible for not having the thought of having to "change" it (removal of the sludge) in the spring. I stop at a bar to have breakfast. In the evening they make pizza and while I sip my cappuccino, too hot, my eyes fall on the greasy bottle of oil on one of the many tables in the room. With the cappuccino in hand, I approach, take it in my hand and the label tells me it is a mixture of oils. At this point, I tell myself, the fact that it does not have anti-topping is no longer the biggest problem. "But here we are in Reggello!", I feel like shouting "How is it possible?" But even here the answer is more than obvious. Enough, I don't want to answer all these stupid questions anymore. I decided: I'll go to my administrators and I will talk to them with my heart in my hand, as I like to do, as my olive trees taught me to do. I will tell them about the morning when the fresh air enters the nostrils and we need to stamp our feet to warm up a little; at least until you have started to raise the stones to put them back in place. I will tell them of infinite satisfaction when, once the wall is finished, we turn around and everything is harmony, order. An order not only necessary but nourishing. I will tell them that the day after tomorrow I will go with my car to bring 100 liters of oil to Switzerland, to a group of people who support rural realities. I will tell them how these 160 families (who have already bought me 150lt before Christmas) have bought an entire farm and after having put four people to work, they can no longer go to the supermarket. I'll tell them about the boys from Estonia, the Americans, how some people finally start to understand. To understand that we are not made to live in a distracted way, we are not made to run, we are not made to gulp down the first thing presented to us in a dish. Eating is a political act, today more than ever. Then I will tell them about my colleagues, friends and almost brothers. I will tell them about their resilience, how passion guides them and the extraordinary results they have achieved since they decided to question themselves. I'll tell them about the Pratomagno olive growers and I'll ask them: "And you, which side are you on?"

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