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Hunting and game, in search of a “healthy” sector. The history (and flavors) of Sant’Uberto

Hunting, game and wild game sector

Slowly, but something is moving. We talk about hunting, game, the wild sector (and we had already talked about it in the monthly Gambero Rosso). It is always from Emilia-Romagna that the most advanced news arrives, that is, those that are slowly putting small stones in the construction of a supply chain that, for the moment, does not hypocritically does not exist in Italy. This is Sant’Uberto, a historical wildlife hunting company from Monterenzio (BO), which has built – the only one in Italy – a slaughterhouse dedicated exclusively to “cooked” wild meat and which has even started to to export to Austria. “Which would look a bit like the classic export of Samo vases or Polo ice cubes! », Comments the publisher Michele Milani, passionate about hunting and « supporter » of the company in the communication.

Game? A very Italian hypocrisy

The game, in Italy, practically does not exist. It is the hypocrisy of a country where in reality much of the gastronomic tradition and the history of its material culture is based precisely on hunting, perhaps associated with the gathering of wild herbs and mushrooms. The game, however, is either imported (and you also have to be careful, because some animals in Italy can be eaten but not traded!) or, in restaurants, they use it “black”. Unfortunately it works like that. Why? Bah… There’s really no reason – no impediment – to building a controlled and regulated supply chain. In fact, before Sant’Uberto, the only regular game slaughterhouse was the Butcher Zivieri di Zola Predosa (always on the outskirts of Bologna and also in Emilia-Romagna), which also had a space dedicated to hunting in addition to the standard meat processing. for raised animals. The peculiarity of Sant’Uberto is to have dedicated itself exclusively to the game and to have built an important supply chain with numbers that are also beginning to be interesting and not only for a few close lovers. “Since 2007, in Emilia-Romagna, hunters have had the possibility of selling their game through an authorized center – explains Michele – and up to 5,000 euros per year, no invoice is even necessary”. In the center of Sant’Uberto, routine analyzes are then carried out to guarantee the wholesomeness of the meats which are processed, portioned and prepared for storage, which can be vacuum-packed or more often by freezing and subsequent distribution in the cycle of the cold. . The greatest distribution concerns wild boar meat, also sold on Metro shelves for the Horeca sector; the meat of other ungulates, on the other hand, is now exclusively made directly via the site of the Emilian company.

Game traced and linked to the territory

The owners of Sant’Uberto – Roberto Aleotti and his wife Lucia Santini who directly follows the work of the slaughterhouse and the processing of the meat – only receive traced meat and from hunters in good standing with all the authorizations and in particular privilege meat from the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza Parks. The realization of all this is closely linked to the territory: close collaboration with craftsmen and small local processing industries in an area where agrifood has been one of the economic engines of the territory for decades.

Gianluca Renzi, chef and patron of the famous I Portici di Bologna, also participated in the presentation of the new era of Sant’Uberto, which has begun to push the distribution a lot also in the horeca world having already developed sufficient experience in the sector The deer tartare fascinated all the palates of the guests. As well as the novelty of the cooked boar shoulder has attracted the attention of many: in reality at a more than affordable price, it allows to have a very healthy meat, from the sector and controlled, and with a very high nutritional and organoleptic value. The wild boar skewers and venison burgers are particularly well chosen: they are also very interesting both in terms of flavor and excellent value for money.

Ethical controversies and divisions

On hunting, we know, there are many divisions in Italy and beyond. There are animal rights activists who would like to ban it, there are hunters who instead defend it. However, in fact – and without looking now at the reasons and the controversies linked to the responsibilities of the past – the management of fauna poses serious problems both for agricultural activity, but also for the protection of the environment and of the landscape and the possibility of on the part of man, not to mention the risks both of car accidents and of close encounters in the same cities. Of course, wildlife sterilization actions are a possible long-term solution, but we probably also need a management model that goes beyond the logic of emergency (which unfortunately still becomes the norm in Italy) and that allows a true ecological balance. continued. We, in the monthly Gambero Rosso and on the website, have often dealt with the subject from the angle of gastronomic culture rather than green ethics, without however neglecting political and moral considerations. In the end, killing a cow or a calf or a lamb raised in a barn or a pasture in what is different from killing an animal in a hunt that lives in freedom and has had an existence without particular constraints? The debate can be about the ethics of breeding and slaughtering, whether or not to eat other living things, whether to choose vegetarianism or not (veganism is even more particular and contains even other elements of discussion and controversy). In the meantime, however, favoring the consumption of meat from free animals that have lived a dignified life, we believe that this can still be a first step towards overcoming truly bad practices such as those – in the opinion of the writer – intensive breeding or super intensive agriculture. . On this front, the ideas and positions are really numerous and different.

Chief’s testimony

The testimony of a chef like Gianluca Gorini who lives in San Pietro in Bagno (FC) in an area immersed in the woods and closely linked to the culture of the “savage”, is interesting: “When it happens to work meat from animals killed in selection, I can guarantee you that the quality is superior, because it is a fresh raw material, which has undergone correct treatments and which is also a local resource, from our territory. It would be important to fill this gap and to facilitate and better control the supply of game meat. It is also a way of cultivating relations with the territory, so as not to lose the flavors and recipes of our identity”. So much so that even the municipality of Bagno di Romagna – a few kilometers from the restaurant – is working on the construction of a slaughterhouse dedicated to game in an area very rich in fauna and hunters.

The name of Legambiente

On the other hand, Nino Morabito, head of wildlife and animal welfare at Legambiente, is on the contrary. “The exponential consumption of natural resources, which leads to define the current period as “Anthropocene”, is the primary cause of the loss of biodiversity and imbalances, in particular climatic and health, which are increasingly catastrophic. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report (2019) highlights that one million species are at risk of permanent extinction and – according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – 41% amphibians, 25% mammals, 13% birds, 31% sharks and rays, 33% coral reefs and 27% crustaceans. In this context, drastically reducing the consumption of meat from domestic and wild species is the only ethical and sustainable choice at the planetary level. It is not a solution today to encourage or promote the slaughter of wild animal species to improve the quality of life of approximately 8 billion people. In addition, proposing bushmeat supply chains would require maintaining, on private and public lands, high levels of some animal species (edible) with increasing damage (agriculture, road accidents, etc.) at the expense of all and benefits for very few”.

However, the fact is that entire territories are devastated by wildlife: natural oases and parks are besieged by ungulates that destroy everything, even other animal species. Maybe ethics is good, but the concrete should also have its place. especially in the immediate

The biologist: renewable resources

Biologist Paolo Molinari, during a workshop on wildlife heritage held in Tarvisio three years ago, said that game is a renewable resource – like energies from the sun, water and wind – which, if it is well managed, allows us to be used and reused; selective hunting makes it possible to take animals by choosing according to the season, and this is an advantage both from a naturalist and culinary point of view because the meats have different flavors depending on sex, age but also on the time of year you hunt. And also in Friuli Venezia Giulia, both qualification courses for more sustainable and animal welfare-friendly hunting, and small slaughterhouses with the intention of building small game-related supply chains have started to see the day.

curated by Stefano Polacchi

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