Food production as resistance and necessity: regaining control over price

sardinia photovoice

Facilitated by Giulia Simula

For some pastoralists, rather than selling milk, making and selling cheese is a necessity; a response to uncertainty and a way to make higher income in the face of unpaid milk and rising costs. Such pastoralists  combine pastoralism with other activities and diversify their portfolios in order to be always ready to face uncertain futures. Cheese sale and exchange is combined with the sale of milk, and it is at the heart of family and social networks.

It creates culture, territory and economies and it is both a source of pride and something to hide, as it often happens at the intersection between formality and informality.

*All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of each research participant

“Last year [milk] was paid 60 cents per litre. This year it will be 70. On a 50-litre output, 35 to 37 euros does not change my life. If you produce a thousand litres maybe it does and you can pay a worker. […] If I make cheese myself […] I can make around 130 euros in one day. It's like selling for three euros a litre more or less. If I don’t do it I have to close the farm.”

Enrico, northwest Sardinia, 43 years old.

“We are making cheese rather than selling milk at that price. But the problem is that it needs to be sold. Let’s see how it goes. Before people came looking for cheese, we would finish it very quickly. Now it is different, but this guy comes and looks for cheese in small towns and then sells it in Northern Italy where they go crazy for our cheese.”

Giorgio, inner Sardinia - mountain, 50 years old.

“We have become accustomed to living as time goes. Following how the weather is, the place and the territory, the location and we have to adapt. We try to adapt  in the best way. And always with great sacrifice. Nature teaches you a lot of things that many people do not know.”

Gavino, inner Sardinia – mountain, 38 years old.

“This is my mother, she makes bread, sweets; we make cheese, we make so many things. It’s not only from sheep as we use everything that this territory gives us.”

Gavino, inner Sardinia – mountain, 38 years old.