For more than 25 years, Fianagricola – a small 24-farm cooperative in the fertile Piana del Sale of Campania – has been dedicated to carefully cultivating local produce varieties. The cooperative was founded with one mission: to guarantee a pure, traceable Italian product, from seed to label.
Upon this fertile land in the south of Italy, Così Com’è is born. Meaning “as they are”, Così Com’è tomatoes are carefully sowed, pollinated by bees, hand-harvested at their peak, and jarred within only a few hours, resulting in pure tomato preserves that taste off-the-vine fresh. In fact, our chefs in Italy spent months testing out more than 40 different types of tomato products from our shelves in order to create the perfect spaghetto al pomodoro recipe – and Così Com’è was the chosen one. “It requires care, patience, respect, competence and love to achieve a premium product,” Elisa Vecchi of Così Com’è tells Eataly. “Working with food offers a unique possibility to connect with the land, with the tradition of a territory, and with its identity.”
As part of Eataly’s spring campaign honouring our producers and their craft, we spoke with Così Com’è about its origins, the land on which its products are born, and the future of working in the food industry.
Eataly: Can you briefly introduce the origins of Così Com’è, its history, and the deep passion that has gone into building the brand?
Elisa Vecchi, Così Com’è: Finagricola has been a leader in the fresh vegetable market since the 1990s – first in Italy and then in the European retail market. We are, first of all, farmers and the know-how in the cultivation of all kind of tomatoes is what makes us different. In 2011, we had already seen how small and sweet tomatoes were performing in the fresh market and decided to add new products to the preserved tomato business, which had always been the same: just regular tomato passata, chopped tomatoes and peeled ones. We decided to use our best varieties of fresh tomatoes and put them in glass jars, launching a new concept: as tasty as fresh tomatoes, but long lasting. We concentrated our efforts on bringing consumers a new kind of preserves from premium varieties of tomatoes, including Red Datterino, Yellow Datterino and Pizzutello, with a sweet and natural flavour.
Tell us about your enthusiasm and passion for your work. What do you find most fulfilling? What keeps you curious?
Working with food offers a unique possibility to connect with the land, with the tradition of a territory, and with its identity. We are very proud to have rediscovered an heirloom like the Yellow Datterino, which is now our iconic product. But we did it using modern agriculture, which is more respectful of the environment, and top-of-the-line technologies for processing because when you have a fresh product whose taste is so delicious you need to work with it without ruining it.
Where are Così Com’è products born? What aspects of this land are most unique?
Finagricola is located in Battipaglia in the South of Italy, in the region Campania. The area is called Piana del Sele and it is where the Mediterranean Diet was born. It is a very fertile land close to the sea and protected by the hills, where agriculture has been the main occupation for generations. We care for our small tomatoes, from sowing and harvesting to processing, in order to have direct control of every step. The traceability is complete so we can guarantee an authentic 100% Italian product.
What skills and qualities are important for those involved in your production process? What does the training process entail?
We have professionals covering every aspect, because ours may seem like a simple product but it is the end result of several very carefully planned steps. It requires care, patience, respect, competence and love to achieve a premium product, first of all in agriculture.
What are the stages of production? How does care and passion for each of these stages contribute to making Così Com’è products so special?
To answer this question, I would like to invite you to see it for yourself in a brief video here. (watch below)
What excites you about the future of working in the food industry? Would you encourage younger generations to become involved in the food-making process and pursue this passion?
I know it sounds cheesy, but food-making is really an act of love, so my answer is: “Absolutely!”. In the future, there will be a lot of challenges related to climate change and we all need to be prepared and passionate in order to continue to offer amazing products but, at the same time, do things differently. Younger generations are the key to finding the right approach. As Italians, we care through food and nothing can be more exciting.