One of the many things I love about Lecce is the constant new discoveries and natural local produce. Just when you think you know the area that you live you come across a wonderful new find. Today for me that was “Formaggi da Rosa” the “cheese by Rosa”. The sign pointed off the little roundabout, where goats often cross the road, down a little winding road near our house.
We decided to check it out. After a little longer than anticipated and stopping off at several wild fig trees along the way for some free organic figs we arrived at a traditional masseria. This was not the sort of high class Masseria that is now so popular with tourists but a rustic, working, family run masseria. There were children roaming around, tractors parked up and linen hanging on the washing line. You really had the feeling that you were wandering into someones home.
To the left there was a little orange building with the “Formaggi da Rosa” sign and just inside Rosa was waiting. We found a wonderful selection of hard and soft cheeses. On Rosa's direction we tried a selection. For me the hard Ricotta was the star of the show. It was salty and delicious. For sure it was going to go perfectly with our figs!
Just as we were about to pay we noticed some fresh eggs on the counter and asked if there were anymore. Rosa said “certo!” and left through the front door. It didn’t take us long to realise that she had gone to take the eggs fresh from the chickens. She returned with basket full of fresh eggs.
There is something so satisfying about buying fresh organic produce from local people. The cheese and eggs that we bought were so fresh, organic and had travelled 0 km. This is something that is prominent in Lecce. There is an awareness of the environment and the health benefits of buying local organic produce. Health and the environment is taken so seriously and the good food is protected by the people.
Zero km food (0 km food) is a concept which first appeared in Italy a few years ago. It indicates the food produced, sold and eaten locally, food which has travelled zero kilometres. It mainly refers to non-industrial fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat and honey which does not go through global trade chains, therefore it does not have the big price margins and quality lost during long storage in international supermarkets.
0 Km food is serious business in Lecce and also has an important ecological aspect which can not be overseen. Since there is no transport involved the environment does not suffer from direct and indirect pollution.
It is wonderful to see the hard work and dedication of the Italian people for preserving and protecting their food sources. Visiting these wonderful places is like stepping back in time, living a simpler life and a welcome reminder that our health and family are the most important things that we have.