By Elena Tarasova, BA
I must say before coming to live in Florence over a year ago, I had never heard of Eataly. To my housemates from the East Coast that sounded impossible but growing up and living in southern California, I never ran into a ‘Eataly’ store. Within my first few weeks of living here, it was already ascertained that this store was on my personal coyote trail of frequented shops.
I learned something truly eye opening about myself as well, I am a person who loves dark chocolate and oranges. Thanks to Eataly, I know will always an insatiable need for that food combination. If you have not tried such a combo, I would highly recommend it; it is to your right as you enter the main door.
Despite Eataly being vastly more commercialized than many of the shops and restaurants in Italy and being a global store, I do have to say that even though I am a usual ‘small business farmer’s market’ aficionado, Eataly does a good job – in my opinion – of putting forth into the world the classic Italian ideals of quality, flavors and general care into their products. I appreciate stores that offer fair trade and eco friendly products and it is nice to see a larger company like Eataly try to uphold values and ideals to what they are selling. All that to be said, I wanted to explore to see if this generally high opinion of Eataly I have would be validated if I researched into the company and how it began. Before embarking on the path to ultimate Eataly knowledge, I was basing my opinion off of their Fair Trade chocolate, their great Eco friendly laundry detergent, their friendly staff and delectable breads.
Eataly, founded by Oscar Farinetti in 2004, is currently the world’s largest Italian market store having establishments in the United States, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, UAE, South Korea and of course Italy. Farinetti, before starting the ‘play on words’ Italian market store, was an entrepreneur for electronic businesses and a long time collaborator and supporter of Slow Food. In order to maintain their quality Italian products, the global stores import from Italian farmers. The Eataly website has a nice feature showing various products and the Italian farmer who made it and the region it is made in. Eataly also uses cruelty free meat for their stores, meaning that the animal lived a better quality life than that of factory farms and also is without the hormones that needlessly get used. As I mentioned earlier, Eataly is interested in using Fair Trade products and intends to expand that part of their store as far as they can. Eataly is also now exploring products that do not use Palm Oil, which is an export that devastates the ecosystems and societies it comes from.
In the past year, Oscar Farinetti won an Italian Businessman Award for his dedication to quality and values in products, employee treatment and the Italian Heritage. Farinetti has stated on numerous accounts that he wants his stores to be a place where food and knowledge come together which is why all of his stores offer cooking classes, have a wide array of cook books and display information cards about the food throughout. He wants to offer people around the world the opportunity to have access to the quality and notable Italian food culture and he intends on continuously expanding not just the stores but expanding the notion of food as an art form to be shared, upheld and valued.
Photo by: http://www.tuscanypeople.com/eataly-enrico-panero/