Giovanni Bernabei is kind of becoming an Italian farmer/celebrity.
He is the RSFP’s closest ally, an eccentric farmer with a simple and bold manifesto. In addition to farming, he is making a name for himself on Italy’s Rai Television News network as a special daily guest, discussing farming and growing Italy’s staple food items. I’ll get back to this. His manifesto, which he sometimes hangs at his table at farmers markets and which hangs in the American Academy’s bar, is as follows:
Dear Consumer, All the produce displayed at my stall is made by the person who sells it. The produce is ALL cultivated in the open, under the sun and frost, without any chemical products according tot he method of Organic agriculture, certified since 1995 by the Bioagricoop.
My name is Giovanni Bernabei. Ever since 1983, I made a pact with myself to touch no longer with my hands any fodder, fertilizer or any chemical products whatsoever. So long as I have the strength to raise a HOE, I will labor for those who believe in me and appreciate my produce. Hippocrates “Let FOOD be your first medicine.”
An assortment of OFFICINAL greens among which: sorrel, yarrow, yellowrocket, borage, sow thistle, chicory, crepide, berberry, dandelion, hedge-mustard, wild fennel, hawkbit, mallow, sweet clover, josierola, plantain, dock, corn poppy seed, mustard. Everything in season. PS Drink the water used for cooking.
The DECALOGUE of the good ORGANIC
- Organic food will never be beautiful like non-organic food.
- It might even be beautiful, but with hidden defects.
- It must never make one feel nauseous, have strange tastes, etc.
- It must have a “flavorless” flavor, be WHAT IT IS.
- It must not stink during cooking, but smell good.
- It must never fill you up or be difficult ot digest.
- If you have reflux, it is not good organic.
- It must have few nitrites, which are responsible for illnesses.
- It must have little water and be endowed with many vitamins.
- Good organic prodcuts never look exactly one like the other.
- PS Procure if you can, an organic agricultural diet from a producer, insuring that the producer is at least a “HOMO Sapiens.”
From Personal experience, Giovanni Bernabei
Giovanni’s farm is wild. There are plants and weeds growing together randomly everywhere. He practices a form of permaculture which I have never seen before, not that I have been to many farms or know very much about farming. But, it’s not what you would expect. Giovanni lets his plants grow to full maturity, lets the seed and then lets them die or chops them down and tills them right back into the soil. This explains why there are volunteer plants growing among all his other plants. It also explains why there are often little random bits of other veggies mixed in with the stuff he delivers to us.
He showed us his cardoons, about 25 plants (4 grueling cases the following week), 6 or 7 types of broccoli, cavolo nero (kale), fennel, garlic fields and other fields that he had just tilled. He also would stop every so often and pick a small plant from the ground and say, “this plant is very healthy, it has the most iron of any plant found in Italy.” He repeated that statement maybe 5 times, each time about a different plant.
Giovanni also has chickens and pigs. He feeds them food that he grows.
Later, after lunch, Giovanni took us up into his apartment near the farm above a pizza restaurant. He eagerly sat us down in front of his new giant flat screen TV, served us some digestives including homemade grapa and Yaegermeister. His wife fumbled with the VCR and put on a recording of him on RAI. It was awesome to see him on such a modern, flashy television show. He was so lively and entertaining. He joked with the host and at one point, even told him to shut his mouth so he could finish.