MONTEBELLO’S ANCIENT GRAINS FOR THE ORGANIC ITALIAN PASTA

Throughout the ’900 the cereal research has above all aimed at getting grains producing more quantities per hectare.

From the economical point of view, it is a right and sharp aim: the more I produce, the more I earn.
Alce Nero cooperative society bucks the trend this time as well, by putting productions,
which can be also “useful”, before economic utility, and looking in grains for those primordial forces that have got them to become the most important food for mankind: wheat in Europe, in the Mediterranean area and in the Middle East; rice in Asia; maize in America; millet in Africa.
For these reasons, having to choose the suitable varieties for farming, Alce Nero refuses to grow varieties modified by X rays, Gamma rays, treatments on the basis of electromagnetic fields or by inserting in plants’ DNA chemical substances (for the mutagenesis of the most spread-out grains chemical industry has used all kinds of substances, the most “efficient” ones are the ethyl-metan-sulphonate, the ethyilamines, the dietilsulphate, the etil-nitrousous-urea…).
In recent years Alce Nero cooperative society has devoted many resources to develop the Montebello-Ancient Grains project, on the basis of which results it has thus selected and chosen to grow and mill Farro Triticum Dicoccum, for two main reasons: the first regards its particular hardness that makes it just right for pasta making, the second one is that, being “discovered” just recently, it has gotten off safely from the so-called technological “improvement”.
Alce Nero uses two other high quality varieties of Italian hard wheat; the first one is called Senatore Cappelli: selected by Nazareno Strampelli in the thirties, it was so called after the senator who, at the beginning of ’900, was the promoter of the great Italian agricultural reform.
It is included in his project and is used in Montebello’s penne, spaghetti and fusilli. Another variety of wheat is
coming from faraway: Graziella Ra®, the first farmer of which was Paride Allegri, in those days gardener in the
municipality of Reggio Emilia. Seeds came from an archaeological excavation in Egypt; when the Tuscan archaeologist
who had found the bunch of seeds gave them to Paride, he didn’t ask for the name, not even for the place those precious grains came from, but he received a precise brief: “ If you manage to multiply them, name it after my daughter tragically dead when she was young: Graziella”.

ALCE NERO COOPERATIVE BY NUMBERS
1977: formation year (name is dedicated to the native American who, in the first decades of the last century, narrated the history of his people to John Neihardt, whose book “Black Elk speaks” was translated throughout the world)
1979: opening of the Urbino shop
1980: building of the mill
1985: purchase of 50 estate hectares
1989: building of the pasta factory
“ : opening of the Fossombrone shop
“ : opening of the holiday farm
1999: widening of the pasta factory
2005: building of the wooden goods warehouse
2006: purchase of 40 estate hectares
Number of members: 30
UAA grown by the cooperative and
members: 2,520 hectares
Employees and salesmen: 35
2006 sales: Euro 5,1 million
Export: 85% to Germany, Austria, France, Japan, Usa, Switzerland, Iceland.