The year 2022 looks to be a good one for Smarties.bio, the young company based in
Chioggia and overseas relations. It is reaping the rewards of what it has sown in the territory
and outside, following in the footsteps of its predecessors: the T&T PRODUCE company owned by the family
Tiozzo Caenazzo Silvano, which contributed to the recovery of many local varieties, including chicory
and arugula, constituting numerous vegetable patents.
The deep belief in their own ideas and values and the daily work to realize them have
have been rewarded. There has been no shortage of articles published in the local and international press,
meetings, conferences and even a Veneto-style showcooking with the vegetable products
of excellence from the area prepared in traditional recipes of the local cuisine - queens the
chicories. If today we cannot help but think of an Italian cuisine without tomatoes, it comes
natural to wonder: could radicchio also one day become an ingredient
fundamental - in quality and flavor - to other culinary cultures?
History teaches that the flavor and wholesomeness of foods are linked to differences in the
food traditions of different areas of the world. The trend toward globalization threatens to
erase them, with the serious consequence of the loss of both cultural diversity and
biological diversity in agriculture. In the past, the introduction of certain plants into cultures
foreign foods encountered difficulties in slowly becoming an integral part of them.
Some regional dishes could never have existed without the discovery of various products of
pre-Columbian origins. When Europeans colonized the New World in the 15th century, they
they discovered plant species that were then unknown, but which are now part of our cuisine
traditional: the potato, tomato, chili pepper and many others. It was the beginning of an early
form of food globalization and a slow culinary hybridization.
Pre-Columbian plants were integrated into foreign European culture to the extent that they
they proved compatible with Western tastes and pre-existing culinary techniques. It was born
thus an early form of culinary hybridization between America and Europe, but, without imitating
exotic cuisine, European cuisine retained its basic grammar, demonstrating that
unfamiliar foods can enter foreign cultures without disrupting them through the
the invention of an appropriate cuisine, with new smells, colors and culinary flavors.
Today, it is not the search for gold that drives Americans on this journey; Chioggia and the
Veneto are not the new Eldorado. But there may be something special and unique about our
territory that attracts a delegation of faculty from Washington State University,
women farmers and journalists, all of whom are women and passionate about radicchios? In the first days of May
2022, Smarties.bio hosted in Chioggia the lecturers, who came to Veneto for a tour
academic "cu-cultural" at some typical territorial areas of this region and the
Venetian lagoon, to discover the roots of local vegetables of excellence (radicchio di
Chioggia, Sant'Erasmo artichokes, Treviso radicchio, Moretta savoy cabbage, broccoli
Fiolaro, the Musuna Chioggiotta onion).
Why go on a journey to discover the roots and traditions of these
Venetian vegetables? Between Portland and Seattle has its roots the Culinary Breeding Network,
an organization founded a decade ago by Lane Selman, a professor at Oregon
University, which has spawned a community of plant breeders, growers of
seeds, farmers, produce buyers, chefs and extensionists. Today this community
has expanded and is the promoter of what has been called the "Radicchio Revolution."
The connection with the Veneto region, and therefore also with Chioggia, was spontaneous, and there was born
a collaboration between Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network, Smarties.bio and Myrtha
Zierock from Agricola Foradori. By studying, growing and cooking radicchios,
Americans can be educated about the taste of bitterness.
Networking, network, connection are typical words of the globalization era; here
we are faced with a positive example. To make possible the building of this
community, culinary explorations, conversations, celebrations and
fairs, which are meant to inspire connection and collaboration throughout the food system
food system. Globalization often brings with it the flaw of unifying differences,
diversities, traditions and typicalities; yet, even in this historical era, some
exception seems possible when the goal is to create initiatives to make
emerge the fruitful interchange of cultures, cultures and experiences. A happy reason
to live for!
Smarties.bio embraces this philosophy. "Those who want to live well and meaningfully
must contribute to enriching the lives of others" is the phrase that describes the mission
of the Veneto-based company, in line with the thinking of its predecessors, and oriented - today
as then - toward overcoming a radical form of protectionism. The protection of
trademarks and consortia, which in itself already stands for quality and transparent rules
can turn into a barrier. Smarties.bio believes in continuous work to develop
an increasingly adequate professionalism to enhance local selections and in the activity
of integrated promotion.
2022, it was said, a good year! The young company is, in fact, reaping the results
of its professionalism in the field. The first came in spring 2021 with the
recognition obtained by the New York Times in an article on radicchios and the revenge of the
bitter taste; in September of the same year Smarties.bio emerged among the seven startups
finalists for the "Preparing for the Future 2021" award, sponsored by the National Festival
of Civil Economy, in Florence; on April 25, 2022, at the Doge's Palace in Venice, it picked up the
Festa di San Marco Award, the fourth edition of the prize dedicated to "Venetian and
metropolitan"; on May 12, he inaugurates the urban garden of the Urban Center of Rovigo, the result of
a collaboration between public administration and private sector for an innovative project that
connects agricultural tradition to the community. The garden is created by Smarties.bio, NaturaSì,
Rovigo municipality and Urban Digital Center Innovation Lab. The vertical vegetable garden project
urban represents an interesting solution for eating healthy, local and rediscovering the values
of the Earth.
Romina Tiozzo Caenazzo