Food Selling In Modern Times: Two Different Models


A permanent food expo or a high-quality delivery service?

We are what we eat. Also, what we eat reflects what we are, I would say. In recent times indeed, people became more conscious about the risks of an unhealthy diet and more aware of the threats posed by intensive industrial food production. Issues like that have arisen even in Italy, the cradle of the Mediterranean diet, traditionally devoted to high-quality products and nostalgic for the good old grandma’s cooking. This return to quality however is especially linked to the modern obsession for comfort, sought in all aspects of daily life.

FICO Eataly World: a possible model

In the field of food, a possible model combining both quality and comfort is FICO Eataly World, the world’s largest agri-food park, situated in the suburbs of Bologna. With its two hectares of open-air fields and stables, forty farming factories and as many restaurants, this sort of permanent expo tries to gather in the same place the entire Italian gastronomic tradition. FICO “aims at telling the world about the excellence of Italian food and wines”, as it is written in the official website (available in Italian, English and – quite a relevant detail – Chinese).

Very little “Italian”

Albeit its good intentions and its probably efficient model, easy to get to and capable of providing a large variety of food, FICO is totally estranged from a real context. Its quest for authenticity is indeed in contrast with its very basic concept: FICO is a park built in the middle of nowhere and far from the city center, a real Non-Place – as Marc Augé would define it – trying to provide tourists a real Italian experience. A model like that makes even less sense in a city like Bologna, whose old town is animated by historical shops, restaurants and wineries, thanks to its deeply-rooted culinary tradition, unique in Italy. Therefore, the comfort of having everything in the same place is likely to penalize the tradition and authenticity of our food tradition.

Home delivery, a valid alternative

The alternative to this model, always animated by the same criteria of quality and comfort, is the one chosen by services like Cortilia, an Italian e-commerce platform for food. With a selection of the best Italian farmers and its strong attention to the quality of raw materials, this website is different from a classic online store. Furthermore, the available delivery time options are very flexible, ensuring the maximum convenience to costumers. With an overcharge, it is thus possible to pick the exact time slot the products will be delivered, bypassing the most limiting aspect of this kind of services.

A cultural update

Contrary to FICO, Cortilia does not represent a specular and theoretically more comfortable alternative to the shops downtown. Instead, it sets itself up as something totally different, unable and unwilling to replace the standard shopping. First of all, a service like this is addressed to locals rather than tourists, making the latter keep living first hand the authenticity of the places they are visiting. Furthermore, it recovers the old and deep-rooted tradition of door-to-door selling by local farmers, still widespread across the country. From this prospective, Cortilia represents a sort of cultural update capable of renewing a secular tradition, not a model diametrically opposed to our culture.

Stay human

Maybe the success of this kind of services is precisely due to their very human peculiarity of exploring and changing, without forgetting the smell of the familiar things. And for their always coming back home.