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Orange Fiber. In Sicily, oranges are fashionable

Innovation / -

Orange Fiber startup intervista

They use byproducts from the Italian citrus fruit industry to create sustainable fabrics, which are changing the face of fashion. Adriana and Enrica aim to contribute to the creation of a sustainable market. And their ability has garnered multiple recognitions.

From their victory in the Trentino Sviluppo and the Smart&Start competitions, and on to Expo Milano 2015, Adriana Santanocito, specialist in Fashion & Textile design, and Enrica Arena, expert in communications and international cooperation, have come a long way on their path to innovating the world of fashion. They have worked to combine aesthetic panache with care for environmental sustainability. And meanwhile, Sicily has become their working base for recovering waste from the citrus processing industry.
 
What are the innovative elements in your technology?
The idea of Orange Fiber was generated by the desire to innovate the Italian textile tradition and to do something of positive value for our territory: the answer was to use byproducts from the citrus processing industry – where waste products represent a problem for the supply chain – in order to create sustainable and ‘vitaminic’ fabrics to use in fashion. The result is the first fabric made from waste byproducts from citrus processes, an innovation in product and process, in that we recover an exhausted material, not viable for food or drink consumption, and we transform it – using sustainable semi-industrial processes – into a new material for clothing manufacturing.
 
How did you develop your start-up?
We carried out a feasibility study through the Milan Polytechnic, and from there developed our patent. Then we took part in Changemakers for Expo and won, and also gained a special mention from Tim #WCAP. This made it possible for us to return to our home and set up active collaborative arrangements with various Sicilian companies specialized in citrus processing. Thanks to various collaboration with our company and the incubation offered by Trentino Sviluppo, we got to the prototype phase, presented in preview last September in Milan in Expo Gate. Orange Fiber srl was officially launched on February 5th 2014. Currently we have our legal office in Catania, our home town, and our operative base in Rovereto, in the “Progetto Manifattura” structure of Trentino Sviluppo.
 
What official recognitions have you obtained?
A few months after launching our project, everything suddenly took off: from Working Capital to Alimenta2Talent, plus the Gaetano Marzotto Prize and the New York Stock Exchange Prize. We also won an award at Changemakers for Expo, from the Milan incubator Make a Cube, and from the Parco Tecnologico Padano, plus financing from Trentino Sviluppo. We’ve ridden a continuous growth curve, culminating in our victory in the United Nations Ideas4Change project last April.
 
Who are your competitors? What are your strong points from a competitive perspective?
The market for sustainable fabrics is currently in rapid expansion. Many companies are producing sustainable yarns, but we have the advantage of producing a fabric very similar to silk, and therefore strongly competitive in terms of usage options. The cosmetic properties of our fabrics – achieved thanks to the use of cutting-edge nanotechnologies – bring a further added value to our products. We believe that the combination of innovation and sustainability is the winning formula in the new fashion materials market, and that our fabrics fully satisfy the need for green renewal in the fashion industry.
 
 
 
 
 

Angola. A country rich in natural resources and food variety

Culture / -

© Anthony Asael_Art in All of Us_Corbis

The culinary tradition of Angola draws upon its own rich regional and ethnic roots, which over the centuries have evolved by absorbing other gastronomic cultures, especially those of Portugal, Brazil and Italy.

Let’s start with a curious statistic: in June 2015, the financial analysis company Mercer listed Luanda as the most expensive city in the world. But note well: this classification referred only to costs affecting non-Angolans visiting the city: the vast majority of Luanda’s five million inhabitants are light-years away from being able to afford this kind of consumption. Nevertheless, the statistic, picked up and amplified by the press all over the world, does highlight the difference between this Central African State and most nearby nations: its natural resources make Angola one of the richest countries in Africa, being its second oil producer after Nigeria and its fourth diamond exporter.
 
Unfortunately, only recently has the country been able to implement a policy of economic development: until 2002 it was caught in a long civil war, thanks to which to this day only 3 percent of its potentially arable land is actually under cultivation. Apart from widespread subsistence farming, various flourishing coffee plantations exist, recently returned to production after many years of abandon. Worth mention also are the country’s fishing resources: its 1,600 km Atlantic coastline yields roughly 250,000 tons of fish per year.
 
Portuguese, Brazilian and Italian influences on local cuisine: even polenta!
Given its natural abundance, it’s no wonder that Angola’s cooking makes lavish use of fresh ingredients and contrasting flavors which blend harmoniously. Its culinary tradition draws upon its own rich regional and ethnic roots, which over the centuries have evolved by absorbing other gastronomic cultures, especially those of Portugal, Brazil and Italy.
 
Portugal (from whom Angola achieved independence in 1975) introduced various Mediterranean elements such as rice and tomatoes, and cooking techniques such as frying and pre-frying. Other typical Portuguese elements which have become fixtures in Angolan food are cornflour bread, dried salt cod, cheese, yogurt, onion, garlic and eggs. Also certain recipes, such as soups (green soup, chicken broth), fish or goat stew, dried cod with cream, pork, duck with rice or cabidela rice. Many ingredients were introduced from Brazil, including cassava, sweet potato, chilli pepper, tomatoes and black beans. Italy too has left its mark on Angolan cuisine, through pasta and even polenta… made from cornflour, just like authentic north-eastern Italian polenta.
 
The baobab influences the Pavilion’s shape and the tastes of its cooking
Angolan cooking is well represented in Angola’s Pavilion in Expo Milano 2015, in the second floor show cooking sector where various chefs demonstrate the way traditional dishes are prepared in domestic contexts.
 
The Angolan Pavilion has wooden exterior facades modulated to reflect the bold kinds of pattern used on typical local fabrics, while the building unfolds around the central focus of a stylized baobab tree, which for Angolans represents the tree of life and a metaphor for the female body.
 
The interior walls are covered with panels illustrating the country’s food production: fishing, stock rearing, agriculture and apiculture. On the ground floor, the baobab’s branches are hung with video screens showing interviews with some of the country’s most celebrated representatives. If you seriously wish to try Angolan cooking, you should go up to the roof terrace, surrounded by botanical gardens. Here you will find a panoramic restaurant in a partly open-air space, where Elsa the cook offers fish specialty dishes with Afro-European flavors, including swordfish baked in foil and lobster bisque. And a trio of tropical mousses to finish.
 
On the ground floor stands a more informal restaurant, offering baobab fruit products in various forms: as fruit, fruit juice or in desserts. Another must is the Chicken Muamba, cooked with peanut cream.
 
 

Ferdinando Scianna: Sharing the food of the people that I photograph

Culture / -

Ferdinando Scianna
© Barbara Francoli

In the photographs of Ferdinando Scianna, the Mediterranean tells a story of families, gestures, rituals and traditions. Scianna, a photographer-member of the international Magnum cooperative, is curating the exhibition within the Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster at Expo Milano 2015 and, here, talks to us about food through photographs as well as memories, flavors, and the places where these have been experienced.

In your book Visti&Scritti, published by Contrasto, you say that the photograph of your daughter Francesca when she was five, evokes memories of the fragrance of jasmine. What do the memories of those scents and tastes mean to you and to your family?
Flavors are one of the strongest associations of identity and our memories. Even more so, if you move to another country, whether by choice or necessity. Being so far away from home, the fragrances and flavors become extremely powerful. When I come across the scent of Arabian jasmine for example, just as with Proust and his madeleines, I’m immediately transported back to my childhood.

What are your other ‘madeleines’?
Sea urchins, pane panelle (bread fritters), the scent of the verdelli lemons that we used to eat like there was no tomorrow when we were little.
 
You are curating the photo exhibition within the Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster. Can you tell us something about the photographs that you’ve selected? Which aspects have you focused mostly on?
It has been a gradual task. Deciding on an exhibition for that particular space was difficult, given the number of images that will be everywhere, not only inside and outside the Clusters, but also those inside and outside the national pavilions. We defined three areas within the Cluster: land, sea, and family rituals. These are the places where the food, the flavors, and the landscapes of our lives express themselves and convey that special quality to the Mediterranean as I know it.Then, via four themes and forty photographs, I have tried to convey my idea of the Mediterranean.
 
Would you say that this exhibition forms your ideal "return" to Sicily?
To return to a place you need to feel that you have left it. I may have physically left Sicily, even though I go back often, but I have never left it culturally, emotionally or intellectually. So it’s impossible for me to “go back” to Sicily, because it’s with me wherever I go.
 
During your travels worldwide, you’ve come across food and culinary traditions, abundance, and no doubt also hunger. Can you tell us about two occasions that affected you most?
Hunger is something that I encountered as a child. Nowadays we say "I'm hungry", but we really just mean that we feel like eating. Real hunger is something else entirely. Hunger is having dark circles under your eyes, it’s having stomach cramps. When I was a child, and people said that a particular family had nothing to eat, they really meant that there really was nothing to eat. Now, thank heavens, at least in Italy, that level of extreme hardship has gone, although some poverty still remains.
 
Extreme hardship is something that I’ve encountered in many places, as a photographer, in Bangladesh, in Africa. In Eritrea, for example, there were camps in which fifty people a day were dying due to drought. That is hunger. Hunger is when a handful of rice placed into open hands makes the difference between life and death. Naturally the experience of traveling is also an experience of different flavors, of other traditions, and is probably the best way to get in touch with another culture. On the Columbian shores of the Amazon River, the taste of crocodile steak makes you understand many things.
 
In your wonderful book published by Contrasto: Ti mangio con gli occhi (You eat with your eyes), which is “not a book on cooking, and much less a cookery book” you wrote: “wherever I go in the world, I’m a big fan of the wonderful foods that you can buy and eat in the street.” Why is that?
When I go to take photographs in a place that I’ve not been to before, I always do two things: the first is to eat some local street food, because I grew up eating street food. When I was a little boy I’d eat mafalda pasta with panelle (bread fritters), bread with ricotta, and stigliole (barbecued lamb intestines). Bread and fritters were a way of life.
 
In many of the places I’ve visited, sometimes without even knowing what some of those foods were, I would try them anyway. By eating them, I felt that I had experienced the same tastes as the people I was photographing – and this helped me to understand them better. One of my other rituals is to go and look in the shop windows of the local photographers because, through the way they photograph people and the way people want to be photographed, I can understand their aspirations, their hopes and dreams, the culture of a place.
 
Food waste. Again, in the book Ti mangio con gli occhi, there is a photograph titled "Lava of oranges, the flow of death". They also tried to prevent you from photographing this “massacre”, which is actually an iconic image of a horrible crime. What does it depict?
It depicts a paradox, a scandal, because it happens that Italy produces more citrus fruits than we can sell. I also once managed to photograph the same thing happening with pears in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.
 
As there is too much of it, after its production has been subsidized, part of it is then destroyed to protect the price. This is completely scandalous, to the point that the people behind it have pretty much forbidden me to photograph it. This is not only to defend certain questionable interests, but probably because they are ashamed. I followed the trucks that were dumping the oranges that had been sprayed with poison, preventing them from going on the market, to landfill sites. A huge quantity of oranges slid down that slope and, having once photographed the eruption of Mount Etna, I saw once again a lava flow of sorts. Instead this time it was a flow of waste and shame.
 
The theme of Expo Milano 2015 is food. Which visual aspects do you emphasize when photographing? Rituals? Sensuality? Textures, patterns, shapes?
I am a photographer with the spirit of a reporter, so I'm interested in how food is made and how it is eaten. That’s why my photographs show families eating at the table. This has to do with family, but also with the identity of people who share a certain food.
 
The photograph of a wooden kitchen table on which tomatoes are being dried to make a  preserve to be eaten during the winter months, almost takes on the appearance of an abstract painting. I cannot construct the photos. I am the one who sees the images, they hit me and I photograph them. Everything in my photos tends to tell a story. Of course the storytelling is done through shape, through surfaces, through colors, when they are present – and they are often present even when the photos are in black and white. I photograph sensuality and pleasure, but also rituals, as well as structures that can be seen in the landscape, like houses.

In the book Visti&Scritti there is a portrait of Gianni Berengo Gardin. Can you tell us what his friends gave him for his birthday?
I am surprised we have entrusted the Rice Cluster to Gianni Berengo Gardin. We should have created an Ice cream Cluster just for him, since he loves ice cream so much. Once, in Arles in France, as a joke at the end of a lunch, we got the waiter to bring him a tray with forty ice creams, which he ate, I might add, without even batting an eyelid. When he turned eighty, someone had the rather amusing idea of presenting him with a sculpted portrait of himself, made out of ice cream, and so, cannibalistically, he ate an ice cream version of himself.
 

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